Everyone wants a good job. “Humans used to desire love, money, food, shelter, safety, peace, and freedom more than anything else. The last 30 years have changed us. Now people want to have a good job, and they want their children to have a good job. This changes everything for world leaders. Everything they do — from waging war to building societies — will need to be carried out within the new context of the need for a good job." - Jim Clifton, The Coming Jobs War
Finding a good job is more relevant than ever. With over 10.9 million jobs available, people everywhere are evaluating their current job and prospective jobs. According to recent research from McKinsey & Company, “Forty percent of employees stated that they are at least somewhat likely to leave their current job in the next three to six months.” So, it is important to know what makes a job good.
Most people evaluate jobs this way:
1. What you like to do — passions
2. What you are good at — gifts
3. What you can be paid to do — compensation
There is one major problem with evaluating a good job this way. It’s all about you! When the focus of our job is only about our own needs, we quickly become dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction will lead to a feeling of meaninglessness. Victor Frankel said it this way, “As to the causation, of the feeling of meaningless, one may say, albeit in an oversimplifying way, that people have enough to live by but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.”
We Seek Significance
All of us desire to be known, valued, and confirmed by others because God created us to be known, valued, and confirmed by others. When we are not known, valued, or confirmed in the workplace, things go wrong. Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Truth About Employee Engagement, describes that job dissatisfaction comes from three areas.
1. Anonymity — not known
2. Irrelevance — not valued
3. Immeasurement — not confirmed
Working for selfish reasons leads to greater anonymity, irrelevance, and no one will bother to measure how much we satisfy ourselves.This is another reason our jobs cannot be primarily about ourselves.
Significance Meets Needs
To have true significance in our career we must look outside of ourselves. To be known, we must do something that matters to others. To be valued and confirmed we must serve others well. Whether you are interviewing for an entry level job, the current CEO of a multinational corporation, or an elite professional athlete, the areas for job fit are the same.
In any job, there are three basic areas where value is exchanged. The best job for each of us is at the intersection of what the world needs, the gifts we have, and the factors that enable (or sustain) our life.
Everyone has needs. An organization hires and continues to employ a person because they are meeting the needs of the organization and the organization’s stakeholders. Stakeholders are typically employees, investors, and customers.
- Most hiring managers look for candidates that already understand the needs of the company and their stakeholders. They ask the candidates questions about what they already know about a company and how they are equipped to meet those needs.
- Most boards evaluate their executives based on whether the company is meeting the needs of the organization and its stated mission. Organizations that meet the needs of employees and stakeholders do the best long term job of meeting the needs of their customers.
- Professional athletes don’t have it any easier when it comes to meeting needs. Most professional sports organizations rigorously evaluate their athletes ability to meet the needs of the team toward their stated goals. An athlete who helps the team’s needs in intangible ways, or is a local crowd favorite, can meet the needs of the team as much as the highest scorer.
Everyone has gifts. Gifts include talent, skills, passions, behavioral makeup and experiences. Made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), each of us has been given unique gifts by our Creator (1 Peter 4:10).
- Candidates should look at each job opportunity to use their gifts toward what the organization needs and be prepared to tell the prospective organization how they are made to serve their needs.
- Executives must always look at how to deploy their personal gifts and how to deploy and redeploy the organization’s gifts (chiefly people) toward the needs of their stakeholders.
- Professional athletes need to, like all of us, continue to refine their gifts and understand where to use them in new scenarios and how to grow them to meet an ever changing competitive landscape.
Most people think of compensation and benefits, but it also includes growth opportunities, employee development plans, work schedule, location of work, working from home, and, perhaps most importantly, the organization's culture. First time job candidates, executives, and pro athletes should all evaluate all enabling factors and alongside their short term and long term life purpose objectives.
The Way To Lifetime Job Fit
Of course, our life purpose is more important than any individual job purpose. Any job that does not fit your life purpose will not satisfy you for very long. Followers of The Way have a distinct advantage in knowing, understanding, and living out their purpose. Followers of Jesus are better equipped in the marketplace than those who are not, because they have the most meaningful and purpose filled job description.
When you know you are made in the image of God and Jesus is supplying your every need (Philippians 4:19), you understand that the highest and best use of your life and work is to love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus described our ultimate purpose for life and work in what is called the Great Commission — to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). (See Are You Ready?)
Dallas Willard wrote, “The drive to significance is a simple extension of the creative impulse of God…. It is outwardly directed to the good to be done. We were built to count, as water is made to run downhill. We are placed in a specific context to count in ways no one else does. That is our destiny.” When you know and understand the life purpose God has given you, you can’t help but work toward true significance in everything you do.