How to Find Meaningful Work and Find Your Value in the Workplace
“Hiring immediately! The ideal candidate must be willing to fit this very long list of qualifications and be Ms. Perfect in 100 ways.” Sound familiar? We’ve all seen it. Why is searching for a job sometimes one of the most demoralizing processes we go through, only to find a job that’s often demoralizing in and of itself?
There is no arguing that the modern workplace is taking its toll on our physical and mental well-being as individuals and on society as a whole. Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer argues in his new book, Dying for a Paycheck, that long hours, dwindling health insurance and immense workplace stress have created “social pollution” in society that is inhumane. Profits have superseded in importance to the well-being of the employees themselves.
At Unsettled, we take the workplace very seriously. Well, not serious in the way that a Fortune 500 company might mean by taking work seriously. We recognize that our team dedicates a significant amount of their time at work. We are deeply moved by their commitments and contributions. And we want to repay their efforts back by creating one of the healthiest, most rewarding workplaces possible.
So this week, as we are hiring for the first time in several months, we wanted to share a few ways in which we think the job search can be a profoundly rewarding process!
Step 1: Start with what matters most to you.
Any first step starts by articulating exactly what matters most to you. For some of us, that may be a fat paycheck. For others, that may mean making a positive impact on people. And yet others may want a work experience that emphasizes professional growth and learning more than anything else. Whatever it is, start with you.
Step 2: Apply for jobs that match your values.
It’s no fun feeling your soul slowly suffocate while clocking in and out of a job that you don’t really believe in because the values of the workplace don’t align with yours. For at the end of the day, our core values and what we stand for are all that we have. Maybe we should all start putting our personal mission statements on our CVs? What do you think? We will if you will! But seriously, employers want to see your values. They want to know if there’s a match as much as you do. No matter how important that salary figure is to you, we highly suggest that you spend 20 minutes answering a few questions, such as, what are my most closely held convictions? What do I hold to be my most unshakable truths about me? About the world? What are my values and in what ways might they connect with an employer? In the end, you’ll save yourself (and your employer) a lot of misery if you articulate your values and why they’re important to you.
Step 3: Apply for jobs that match your lifestyle.
Some people dream of work that requires travel while others despise it. Some want to find a community within the workplace and others want to work from home. Think through your lifestyle, and make a list of all that goes into it and how a job impacts it. What are you willing to be flexible on? What’s a dream come true? What’s a dealbreaker? If nothing else, become aware of your ideal lifestyle and be willing to give something up now as long as you are working for a future.
Step 4: Admit that all work has a shitty side.
It’s called work for a reason because it’s not meant to be always easy and fun. We all give something up when we go to work, and that’s the point. We grow the most when we choose the most difficult road. Therefore, identify the areas where you will need to be challenged in order to grow! What makes you uncomfortable? What do you avoid? Admitting that all work has a shitty side grounds you in a realistic perspective; it’s work after all.
Step 5: When you apply for a job, talk about contributions.
How will you contribute to the world? To the people in your life? In your workplace? By asking questions about how you can contribute, you are reframing “work” into contributions or ways that you bring value into the world. The most demanding jobs in the world may be the ones where you contribute the most, and, in return, receive the highest rewards from a job well done. Ask yourself about how you want to contribute, and ask your prospective employer the same questions. How will you contribute to the company’s goals? How does the company contribute to the world?
Next time you search for a job try not to overlook the values that the workplace stands for. Where you are and what you do is just as important as how it makes you feel while doing it. Don’t forget to remind yourself that you are also interviewing the prospective workplace too. Maybe they aren’t the type of organization that you were looking for. It’s not you, it’s them. Having a couple workplace ethos-based questions prepared for the interviewer beforehand is always a great trick, especially when the nerves kick in.
When you are applying for a job, remember that your values need to apply just as much too.