Love your work = success
Does financial and personal success go hand-in-hand with doing work that you love? Plenty of anecdotal evidence supports this idea: Market maven Warren Buffet, for example, claims he tap dances to work. You’re almost certain to move ahead in many ways if you marry your loves and interests to your paying job.
A colleague of mine recently suggested professional passion goes one step further. In addition to loving your work, he suggested, your ideal career includes loving the people you work with and the clients you serve.
Sadly, I know very few people who can claim that all three of these concepts are part of their work life. Many fell into careers via happenstance and the lure of a good paycheck. Fear of starting over again keeps these folks stuck.
If you don’t love your job, you have two basic choices: Change yourself and the environment at your current workplace or find a company that offers you a better fit.
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Let’s examine the second choice. You may want to look for a company with a culture of building careers rather than merely providing jobs. Here are a few characteristics to help identify such companies.
Evaluating. The best companies assess potential employees for both competency and personality. Competency evaluations are often specific to the skills needed to perform the job; some firms also include IQ and emotional intelligence evaluations, the latter to see how well you read yourself and others subjectively.
Many such evaluations can go a long way to help you as well as the companies determine if you’re right for a given career or position, including StrengthsFinder, DiSC (dominance, influence, conscientiousness, steadiness), Kolbe A Index, Emergenetics, Caliper, ProScan, the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory.
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All of these evaluations are unreliable if used alone. All can be wrong or misinterpreted. But when done properly, evaluations such as these can eliminate half the guesswork as to whether a candidate might be a good fit.
Interviewing. Many companies use a tool proven incredibly effective: the two-day interview. Besides job-specific sessions, this method may include social gatherings and one-on-one interviews with the candidate’s potentially closest co-workers.
Team decisions. Companies that underscore and protect a distinct culture don’t leave the hiring decision up to one person. Several times in my career, for example, my staff soundly rejected a candidate I saw as a perfect fit after many evaluations and interviews. It didn’t mean the applicants weren’t outstanding, just that they weren’t a fit for us.
Respecting the culture. For every job, scores of applicants can adequately execute the needed tasks. Few people, however, fit the culture of a given firm.
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Of course, assessing whether a candidate and a company are good fits must come from both sides. You probably can’t demand that your prospective employer take personality evaluations. You can pay close attention to the company’s culture as you interview.
Is the place competitive? Nurturing? Do career paths appear flexible or fixed?
Do the different departments of the company communicate? Do the managers seem to talk to each other? Do workers keep personal items around the desks? What do applicants and staffers (past and present) say about the company on social media?
Finding a company that fits your values, purpose and personality takes time. In the long run, it’s well worth the effort to build a career that means more to you than a paycheck.
AdviceIQ — @adviceiq on Twitter — is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.