Should we embrace imperfect jobs?

“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”

During our lifetime, we’re often told to strive for perfection. It’s great to have high expectations when you start a new role, yet often employees are quickly disappointed when the reality doesn’t live up to lofty expectations.

So, what is the perfect job? Does it even exist? Or should we be considering exciting but imperfect roles instead, as suggested by Lindsey Pollak, the author of Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work?

Is any job actually perfect?

I’d have to argue probably not! Rarely does a flawless role exist which gives 100% fulfilment. I think most jobs have a small element that you don’t enjoy as much, but I do think you can find a job that you love doing. The important thing is knowing what matters to you and what doesn’t. Sometimes compromise is key.

Define your criteria and non-negotiables

Start with your criteria and be clear about what you are looking for and why. Think about the role, but also the company, the sector, the commute, if the job is full or part-time, the level of flexibility involved etc. What are the non-negotiables for you? Set your own criteria and resist the temptation to compare yourself to others who have a different set of priorities to you.

As an example, one of my client’s core requirements in a new job was working a four-day week. However, when she was offered a position, the company were willing to meet her request, stressed how flexible their culture was, and asked if she’d try full-time hours but working to her own schedule.

This approach turned out to be a brilliant option for my client. She realised that four-days-a-week wasn’t a deal-breaker but having flexibility for other life demands was what she needed most.

Know yourself well – your strengths and values

There are nearly always parts of a job that we don’t enjoy. I use a number of profiling tools including something called a Strengths Profile which helps you understand learned behaviours. These behaviours don’t always energise us or come naturally, but they are helpful in that we can use them when we need to.

Be clear about what you’re looking for and your own personal values. That way, you can make sure you align yourself to the right companies who are advertising vacancies.

This approach isn’t for everyone though. Some people are happy to work for a living and fulfil their purpose through volunteering or other activities, and that’s OK too.

Push yourself outside your comfort zone

I always advise my clients that any new job should have 20% stretch if they’re looking to progress. By that, I mean find a role that scares you a little and pushes you outside of your comfort zone to a point.

If a new job fits you like a glove, it’s possibly a sideways step. I’d argue that for progression, any new job should contain around a fifth of elements that you have little or no experience in and that takes you into the learning zone and provide that stretch and challenge that will help you grow and develop.

Be prepared to pivot

Many people I meet have simply ‘fallen into’ a profession or industry and then end up feeling stuck in that lane. Maybe taking an imperfect job will help you to transition from one lane to another. An example of this would be a client who left a permanent role they had worked in for several years to take a short-term six-month contract within a new sector in order to move towards the future role they wanted to get long-term. A leap of faith maybe, and the role wasn’t perfect, but it got them into the right place to make new connections, develop their network and reputation, and get their CV into a better place for a future, more ideal opportunity.

Whilst it’s great to strive for a brilliant match in your next role, take time to think through those imperfect opportunities that may be a great stepping-stone in your career. Don’t let a few small things on a job description deter you from applying when you meet the rest of the criteria, or you might be overlooking your best opportunity ever.

And for anyone who has the perfect job – fantastic! I am sure there are some lucky people who love what they do 100% of the time. I’d love to hear from you if that’s you and how you made it happen.

If you want support and coaching through the process to help you find the right job for you – give me a call to arrange a free chemistry session on 07765 894040.

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