If you work a 40-hour workweek (which is laughably short for most of us) you’re spending a little under a fourth of your life at work.
Since we only have so much time on this planet, it only stands to reason that you should spend your time doing something you love. Statistically, at least, the vast majority of us don’t. In fact, something like 70 percent of Americans don’t feel engaged in the workplace.
To help save you from such a depressing fate, we caught up with Dana Córdova from the Startup Institute and asked her for some advice on how to find the right job. The Startup Institute runs 8-week programs designed to help job seekers gain the skills, mindset and network they need to find a job they love. It’s kind of like that incredibly useful class we all wish we had in college that taught us how to take the skills we learned, and turn them into a job we actually wanted.
Here’s what Dana had to say:
I’ve read that something like 70 percent of U.S. workers are unsatisfied in their work. Is there anything job seekers can do to avoid that fate? Or are we all just doomed? A mere 31.5% of workers say they feel truly engaged in their work — I think this is extremely sad, but I don’t believe we are doomed.
This discontent reveals a conflict between the rapidly changing demands of the workforce and the traditional ways in which we were trained. Most of us got a liberal arts degree, maybe did an internship to figure out our general direction, and then just went for an entry-level job as step one in our upward climb.
But the workplace has changed dramatically in the last 10 years; many are feeling irrelevant, longing to make a bigger impact. Others may simply feel trapped by the time investment they’ve made in a particular field and don’t know how to hit pause to gain the new skills they need to change their course.
It’s no surprise that the education landscape is shifting in response. New offerings like our eight-week program, online courses, and MOOC’s are popping up across the country to train and launch career changers into the tech industry. Employers desperately need talent, and people desperately want fulfilling careers—we can, and are, successfully avoiding doom.
Are there any industries or workplace characteristics that tend to lead to someone being engaged at work? Absolutely. In fact, we conducted a study to try to map key characteristics to successful employees in rapidly growing companies. The results quite clearly point to six characteristics: desire to learn, ability to thrive amidst ambiguity, excellence at collaboration, passion, willingness to the company before oneself, and scrappiness.
You can, therefore, deduce that those companies that offer employees the opportunity to challenge themselves, learn on the job, and work in a dynamic environment are going to have happy, engaged, and highly successful employees.
I know you have an event coming up in NYC/Chicago that’s aimed at helping people design the career path that’s right for them. Obviously we can’t get too deep into it here, but are there any suggestions you’d give people? Yes, our upcoming events in New York and Chicago are part of a workshop series we started called GET UNSTUCK. It’s a one-day program to help you design a career path rooted in personal clarity and strategic planning. Through a series of exercises you’ll gain a clear picture of what you’re great at, what you’re passionate about, and how to earn a living doing both.
My suggestion to your readers is to sit down with a piece of paper and think about three key things: what can you be the best in the world at, where can you make money, and what are you passionate about. This exercise is based on the The Hedgehog Concept, made famous by business consultant and leadership writer Jim Collins. The intersection of these key factors is where you’ll find a fulfilling career.
So, there you have it. There is hope. If you’re interested in attending the next Get Unstuck workshop in New York, you can find more about that here.
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