Best Job Ever? Maybe Not. 4 Ways to Tell
Posted at 3 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2013
Hill Navigator is coming up on six months of advice-giving. We’ve learned a handful of things along the way — mostly that job concerns aren’t confined to Capitol Hill and that even the most straightforward questions can have complicated answers.
But Hill Navigator has picked up on a broader theme in numerous job queries: How do you know if you are in the right job? Perhaps there is a better office, or a more appreciative boss or a bigger salary out there? But maybe this is an illusion, a classic case of the grass always being greener on the other side.
Work straddles our intimate and professional lives — we live off our paychecks, we share office space with co-workers, we spend most of our waking hours connected to our work lives. It’s understandable to evaluate whether our present job is the right fit.
But how to do so? For those who need something more tangible than a Myers-Briggs test, Hill Navigator may have a solution.
Hill Navigator has put together a set of four job satisfaction pillars to help you evaluate how well you and your job fit together. Each pillar can help determine how satisfied you are with your current position. After answering these questions, take a step back and see how important each of those criteria are to you as a person.
1. Autonomy: How much authority do you have over your day and your expertise? Do you create your own schedule or is your time managed by others? Do you have the ability to work more when you’d like and less when you’d prefer not to? Could you work from home in your pajamas if you so desired? Are you the master of your subject area, is your decree taken as is or is it challenged? How much control does your boss wield over your daily activities?
2. Compensation: Salary is the obvious one here, but compensation includes more than just the paycheck. What sort of benefits and perks does your office provide? This can be anything from days off to free espresso to parking passes. Does your office invest in its employees — yourself included? Is training for future positions and additional skills part of what your job includes, and how likely are you to be promoted from within?
3. Integral: Is your input valued? What is your place at the table? Are you a lifeguard who watches over your office or a lane-swimmer who doesn’t look up from your work? Are you sought after for your opinion, even on subjects that fall slightly outside your area of expertise? Or are major decrees handed down without your involvement? Do you feel your boss(es) value what you say and seek your input? If not, is this specific to you or to the company culture in general?
4. Value-add: This is the externality question: How do you feel about what you do outside the office? Are you saving the orcas and fulfilling a lifetime goal of making the world a better place? Do you feel your work makes a meaningful difference, and do you feel your contribution is part of that? Value-add satisfaction can be a key point for Capitol Hill staff in particular, where drafting legislation can be the impetus for national change, but in non-Hill jobs what you feel you are contributing can be just as meaningful.
So there are the Hill Navigator four pillars of job satisfaction: How does each one affect you, and how important is each one to you? The former question is a chance to reflect on your current job; the latter is a personal decision that might change over your own career and lifetime. For a young staffer with fewer financial needs, value-add might take precedence, but for parents who are eyeing a college fund, compensation may be most practical. For young families with long commutes, it might be autonomy that is paramount. For someone with a long history of success, how integral he or she is to the office might be what drives the conversation.
Again, this is just one of many frameworks designed to help evaluate your own job satisfaction. It’s a fickle world out there. The more you know about what is important to you in a job setting, the better prepared you can be.
Feel differently? Let Hill Navigator know. We’re still checking email.