What if work weren’t just a means to an end? What if you could arrive on Monday morning knowing that whatever tasks you’re about to tackle will scratch some itch deep inside your soul and keep you engaged all the way through Friday afternoon?
According to talent manager and psychological-profiling expert Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, it can be done. In a terrific Fast Company post titled “How to Find a Job That Aligns With Your Values,” Chomorro-Premuzic outlines three tips for finding work that may put you on what he calls a “virtuous cycle.” “When people pick jobs that fulfill basic psychological needs, motives, and values,” he writes, “they immerse themselves more in their work, experience higher levels of job satisfaction, and their productivity rises.”
Chomorro-Premuzic’s first tip is fairly obvious but also very tricky: “know yourself.” As he writes, many of us have some idea what we’re looking for in our careers today, but what about tomorrow and five years down the line? Psychologist have determined that people tend to be driven by status values (the desire to compete and get ahead of others), affiliation values (an altruistic need to work with others), and learning values (a yearning to make sense of the world, perhaps through a scientific job). It helps to think about which of these describes you.
Second, Chomorro-Premuzic says you must “know your employer.” After all, being cognizant of your values is only useful if you can find a company that shares them. In a perfect world, you’d be able to glean this information by going on interviews and reading mission statements, but employers aren’t always great with communicating their values. As such, Chomorro-Premuzic suggests using sites like Glassdoor, as well as social media, to suss out company culture as perceived by current and former employees.
“A company’s culture is best measured not by the terms it uses to describe itself, but by its actual impact on employees — what psychologists call ‘climate,'” he writes.
Finally, Chomorro-Premuzic suggests gazing in the old rearview and “learning from past experiences.” Think about jobs you’ve had and left and try to pinpoint why you opted to move on. Did the places you landed afterward make your happier? If so, why? Sometimes, just knowing what doesn’t motivate you — high pay or opportunities for travel, say — is enough to get you headed in the right direction.