Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jump-Start Your Job Satisfaction

Ever have those periods at work when you find yourself singing the famous refrain from the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"? When you feel like there's something missing in your work, answer these questions to spur you to take action against job funk.

What's Right About Your Job?
Figuring out what's good about your work situation can make it easier to identify the one or two things you're really missing in your job. Perhaps you work with colleagues and clients who stimulate you or you're comfortable with. Maybe your job gives you the chance to exercise the skills that you enjoy using the most. Whatever it is that gives you satisfaction and is important to you, write it down.

What's Missing?
Consider what's lacking in your job. Just because you are good at doing something, doesn't necessarily mean you want to do it anymore. Maybe your work-life balance is out of whack. Or you might be stuck in the same old rut. Create a second list of things you don't like about your job.

Can You Get What You Want Where You Are?
Before you start looking for another job, figure out if you can get the things that are missing in your current job. Let's say you haven't learned anything new in several years. Is there an aspect of your company or industry that is growing that you'd like to learn more about? Are there specific skills that other people in your organization have that you can use or plan to learn? What about improving a weak skill, like public speaking, training, financial management, or marketing?

How Can You Make a Difference at Work?
If you really like what you do but feel like you need a change, get involved in a special project that focuses on improving your employer's business. Identify an area within your company that needs help, think through the details of how you can improve it, and put together a brief proposal to present to your boss.

You could also get involved in your industry's key association as a way to meet new people in your industry who might give you a new perspective on potential opportunities in your work.

Can You Get What You Need Elsewhere?
If you've taken a hard look at your current job and company and realize that you just can't create a situation or do the work that satisfies you, then it makes sense to start looking for opportunities in other companies or industries.

Who Can Help You To Find a New Job?
Now is the time to start networking with as many people as possible. You may not find a new opportunity as quickly as you'd like, but you are planting seeds. Seek out acquaintances who have experience in your desired field or who can introduce you to decision-makers who will value your skills and experience.

Finally, you'll want to build on the lists you created in response to the first two questions. The information you recorded will help you prepare key questions and answers for the next stage in your pursuit of satisfaction -- the job interview.