Inside: Everyone’s idea of a perfect job will be different, but one way to find yours is to define it yourself! Use this career coaching exercise to take the next step in your career development.
What would your perfect job be?
Besides getting paid to sit on the beach with a Mai Tai.
Or actually, scratch that, there ARE people who get paid to sit on the beach with Mai Tais (influencers, reality TV stars) so let’s not put any boundaries around this yet.
I ask the question because most often when I’m working with a career coaching client 1:1 or in the group coaching program, they are trying to make a big change and find a job they love. But the first stumbling block beyond doing some self-reflection about strengths, passions, and value to others is figuring out what the in the world that job might be.
An exercise I recommend a lot is writing your own job description. Curious how this could help you find a job you love? Read on!
Let’s Say Your Job Sucks…
Let’s say that you are miserable in your job. It’s dragging you down, your energy is drained, and you are staring at the clock every day just waiting to break free.
If this is you then I bet you can list about 30 reasons why your job is the pits and you want out. That part is easy, and it’s actually even one of the recommendations I make for people who do hate their jobs. You need to know why you hate it before you start looking for something else and end up in the same situation.
But focusing too much on the negative leaves you digging a hole of sadness and can make you feel like there is no way out.
Another way to go about figuring out what you actually do want from your next job is to write your own job description. This way you are listing out all the things you actually want, even pie in the sky type stuff, and you can see what you’re shooting towards.
Here’s Why Writing Your Own Job Description Works
Here’s the great part – maybe that job you’re writing up exists and you can go after it.
Or maybe important pieces of that job exist within a different job and you could go for that.
Or maybe that job doesn’t exist at all but you can create it! Kids have creative ideas of what they are going to be when they grow up all the time, why can’t we make those creative things a reality?
Once upon a time, someone was the first chemical engineer, the first bus driver, and the first graphic designer. You could be the first something else. And you can also think about creating a portfolio career like mine that involves a bunch of different “gigs” so that you’re creating a job for yourself that meets your needs and personality.
Let’s get started.
Find a Job You Love (Or Create One!) With These 6 Questions
As you start writing your job description, pull up a blank Word Document and write the following headers: Who, What, Where, Why, How, and When.
Leave space beneath each of them to write notes related to each of the following questions:
Who do you want to work with?
Do you like doing solo work? Would you prefer to be part of a team? If you like the team stuff, what kind of team works best?
The who question is about work style which is closely related to organizational culture. Think about when you do your best work and what that looks like then zoom out to think about who the people in the room with you are, or if you’re hanging solo.
What type of work would you want to be doing?
You don’t need to get super specific with this yet but write down some initial thoughts like “writing,” “managing a team,” “financial modeling,” or “photography.” Or your what could be “spending half my day collaborating with others” or “helping people solve problems.”
Don’t get too caught up in what you are doing in your current job, really think about what you would love to do be spending your time doing. What type of activities get you into that wonderful feeling of flow and you lose track of time.
If you did the 100 jobs exercise, the themes you came up with here could help with identifying your “what.”
Where do you want to work?
Location is important for a lot of people. And since many of you reading are working parents, I KNOW it’s important to you. It might even be one of your nonnegotiables.
So, answer the question for yourself. What city, state, or country do you want to work in? Do you want to work from home or in an office? Do you want to travel? What your ideal commute?
Location has become an interesting factor this past year because of COVID and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. But think current and future tense for this question because the where could be more a factor when “the germs go away” as my kids like to say.
Why would you want to hop out of bed to go to this job?
The why question is twofold. One part of it is around what is motivating you to do this specific job and that could be a cause you believe in, creating a product you like, or offering a service that you think adds value to the world.
The other part is necessity-based. Why are you working at all? You need money, yes, but why?
Get the specifics down of what financial goals you are working towards and specifically why a paying job is necessary. Eventually, this will help you determine your salary needs and it’s important that you don’t just guesstimate this! You really want to know what kind of salary you can accept and what you can’t before you make a big change.
How do you want to accomplish your work?
For me, I’m perfectly happy at a computer for most of the day. For other people that would drive them totally bananas and they need to be up and moving.
Think about how you want to accomplish your daily responsibilities in an ideal situation. With technology, with as little technology as possible, sitting, standing, moving? The “how” here is a very simple question but one that can determine a lot.
When do you want to work and when do you not work?
Think about your ideal work schedule. What time would you start your day and what time would you end your day? Would you want to work in an 8 hour chunk or break it up? How much time do you want or need off for childcare, travel, or catching up on six seasons of Madame Secretary on Netflix?
Remember, think ideal situation here. If ideally you want to work only 4 hours a week, go ahead and write that down. If your financial goals are going to
How to Turn This Into a Job Description
Now that you have your questions answered, try to turn that into a job description including a company description, a job title, a location, and key responsibilities.
The company description may be a specific company you have your eye on, or it could be made up company within your target industry. Or it could be a little bit vague on the industry but it hits on size or company culture.
A family-owned small business located in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.
An online fashion retailer with an all remote workforce.
A multinational healthcare organization committed to developing vaccines that save lives.
Try to write the job title from your own imagination first. Remember, no one else is reading this job description except for you and anyone else you chose to show it to so it can be whatever you want.
Director of Fun
Vice President of Coming Up with Nail Polish Names
Here is where you are going to pull from your 7 questions to come up with some bullet points.
Who are you working with on a daily basis? What kind of work would you be doing each day? How would you be accomplishing that work?
Create and implement social media marketing strategy as member of a 6 person marketing team.
Analyze investment opportunities using market research and financial modeling to make recommendations to CEO.
Meet with clients via Zoom to determine their company’s major pain points and develop customized solutions.
Your Perfect Job Search
How’s that job description looking? Hopefully it’s looking incredibly appealing because if its not you did this wrong and I hate to do this to you, but you need to go try again. Remember, this is YOUR ideal job description. Make it something you actually really want to do!
Then you can take this in three different directions:
1. Search for the job
You know what kind of job you want now, so start plugging some of those keywords into job search sites to see what the actual titles of those roles might be called. Then you can either apply directly to those positions, or, and this is where I suggest you spend most of your time, talk to people who have had those roles.
You’re always going to get more out of talking with folks who have already walked on your desired career path then just shooting resumes out into the wild blue yonder. You’ll build connections, you’ll learn important information, and you may even be considered for a job that wasn’t posted yet! When you know what you want, telling people about it goes a long way!
2. Adjust your existing job
Look at the job description you created and see how much of it matches up with your current job. If you’re finding some matches and some misses, think about how you could fill the gap.
For me, in my last role before venturing out on my own, I realized that I wanted to spend more of my day writing. I didn’t up and quit right away, instead I let it be known in the office that I loved to write and wanted to take on any available writing projects I could manage in my schedule. This led to very packed days, but more fulfillment.
3. Create your job
If that dream job doesn’t exist and you can’t mold your current job to fit, then you can go out and create that job yourself.
That might mean starting your own business full-time, building a side hustle, or embracing the gig economy and freelancing. There’s so much freedom in creating something for yourself that perfectly matches your work style, interests, and personality. There are huge benefits of working full-time for an organization, like well, the benefits, but always go back to your “why” question. Why are you working and what do you need from this job?
This was a meaty post and if you have kiddos tugging at your pant legs right now then you might want the TL;DR version. Here we go!
- Writing your perfect job description is a self-assesment exercise and way to help you determine your goals.
- Ask yourself the Who, What, Where, Why, How When questions.
- Turn your answers to those questions into a Job Title, Company, and Key Responsibilities.
- To find your perfect job in real life, compare your job description against existing postings, make changes in your current job, or create your own job.
And this key takeaway wasn’t in this article, but go give yourself a pat on the back, a hot shower, or a nice beverage as a reward for investing time in thinking about your career fulfillment. That’s important stuff and I give you many kudos for taking a few minutes for you!
Interested in learning more about 1:1 or group career coaching? Visit my coaching website and sign up for a free consultation call.