Resources for coaching, teambuilding
and managing corporate culture

Ccm.gif (3585 bytes)

About Us Coaching Mentoring Free Resources Interaactive Courses Leadershiip Main Tab
Personal Coaching Books & Instruments Free Resources Affilitates BlankMentTab.gif (1307 bytes)
Internet Survey Results:

What Contributes to a Satisfying Career?
Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D.

 

Imagine that you are a career counselor for people who are trying to define a career direction.  Putting aside the differences in financial gains between various careers, what would be your counsel to a person whose objective is to find a satisfying career?  What criteria should they take into consideration in making a choice?  Having been in that situation, my answers to these questions were not very deep or consistent.  Thus the motivation for conducting this survey.

During the second quarter of 2005, one hundred and twenty one people participated in our on-line survey to, define the most important contributors to a satisfying career. Seventeen percent have been employed in a full time job for more than six years and fifty seven percent have been employed longer than ten years. Also when asked overall how satisfied are you with your career only nine percent chose very unsatisfied while fifty three percent selected very satisfied and thirty eight percent selected the so-so option. This longevity in the workplace and high overall satisfaction scores lends credence to their opinions about what constitutes career satisfactionthey have the experience and know one when they see one.

The participants were asked to rate nineteen conditions (listed at the end of this report) three times:

1.      How important are theses conditions to a satisfying career?

e.g., My work/career makes a difference

__Does not Apply,__ Not Important, __Somewhat Important, __Very Important

2.
      What is the single most important condition for a satisfying career

3.      To what extents are these conditions present in their current career?

e.g., My work/career makes a difference

__Does Not Apply, __Not Present, __Sometimes yes sometimes no, __Always Present

They were also asked how likely they were to change job/careers with the next 12-15 month and why.

 What is important?

Only three of the nineteen conditions failed to be rated very important to a satisfying career at least 60% of the time: I can be my own boss, my co-workers are enjoyable, and I receive adequate performance feedback.   The remaining sixteen factors all were voted as very important at least 60% for the time.  Not much discrimination or distinction and maybe a little too idealistic to expect everything to be equally important.  The next question asked for the participants to select the single most important factor from the list of nineteen factors. The following were the top six single most important factors for a satisfying career:

Rank   Factor
1 I find my career personally satisfying

 

2 My work/career makes a difference

 

3 My career uses my full potential (strongest talents)

 

4 There is sufficient opportunity for development and growth

 

5 In my career there is room for advancement

 

6 My career allows for the proper work/life balance

The argument could be made that I find my career personally satisfying is an outcome or because of the existence of the other five factors. Doing what makes a difference while utilizing my strongest talents plus having the opportunity to develop, grow, and advance with sufficient free time to pursue other interests sounds pretty good.  Placed in these conditions it would be hard not to find it personally satisfying.

From the original career counselor scenario, based on these results alone, you might offer the following advice:  look at those careers that you find personally interesting, fit with your values on what makes a difference and utilize what you feel are your strongest talents. Also consider those careers that allow opportunities for development growth and advancement and are not so all consuming that you dont have a life outside of work.  Good advice if such an animal exists.

Are we getting what is important?

Knowing what is important for a satisfying career and having the opportunity to fulfill these needs may be two different things.  When asked to rate the extent these same nineteen factors are present in their current career the two sets of results indicate that in fact these needs are not being fully fulfilled by the current career. 

                                                                                                                       

Rank   Factor Percent "always present" in current career
1 I find my career personally satisfying

 

28%
2 My work/career makes a difference

 

38%
3 My career uses my full potential (strongest talents)

 

20%
4 There is sufficient opportunity for development and growth

 

33%
5 In my career there is room for advancement

 

35%
6 My career allows for the proper work/life balance 23%

 

Average 29.5%

 

Rank   Factor Percent "not present" in current career
1 I find my career personally satisfying

 

21%
2 My work/career makes a difference

 

8%
3 My career uses my full potential (strongest talents)

 

20%
4 There is sufficient opportunity for development and growth

 

16%
5 In my career there is room for advancement

 

18%
6 My career allows for the proper work/life balance 13%

 

Average 16%

Now as a recipient of your counsel would the person be dishearten to learn that on average those people surveyed felt that only 30% of the time did their current career always live up to providing what was important and in 16% of the time the career didnt even come close to meeting these needs?  Conversely would their chosen career be attractive to these respondents if they could count on it only fifty four percent sometimes meeting what is important to them?

What to do about it?

The argument could be made that these respondents might not have fully evaluated their chosen careers in terms of what was really important to them.  Or, they might not have really made a conscious choice about a career, someone else or situations dictated the type of career/work they had to take.

Being placed in a situation where only 30% of the time your career always provided you what important and 16% of the time not at all might explain that 45% of these respondents indicated that they are likely to change jobs/career within the next 12-15 months.  Reading the reasons for the change reinforces these conclusions:  half of the written responses describing the major reason for the change point to some type of dissatisfaction with the current job/career.  Some examples:

            I need a job that involves me using my full potential

            Personal boredom and a lack of vision for the future from my boss

            Want increased challenges, increased skills in my field

            More rewarding work with more balance between work/life

            I would like more of an opportunity to make a difference and to develop and grow

Lest we focus only on the negative, keep in mind that 53% of the respondent chose very satisfied when ask to rate their overall satisfaction with their career.  This group has selected a career that both meets their needs and provides them opportunity for continued satisfaction.  Which begs the question, how can we help others find a satisfying career?

Whats your counsel?

For those who are formal career counselors or informally mentor/influence others, one conclusion from this survey is that the person needs to take more personal responsibility in making a career choice if they want to find career satisfaction.  Focusing on the top six most important factors, the following questions, although far from exhaustive, might help those searching for a meaningful and satisfying career:

1. I find my career personally satisfyingWhat motivates you?  What situations/activities do you find most satisfying?  What situations/activities do you find boring?  What is your priority list of what you want out of a career?  Have you done the homework to really understand what is involved in those careers under consideration?  Have you talked to people in these careers to find out what really happens and what to expect?  Take on the role of an informed consumerwould you buy this career for you? 
 
2. My work/career makes a differenceWhat are your values?  What does it mean to you to make a difference?  Can the people who are in these careers validate for you that this can happen?  Will the careers under consideration offer you the opportunity to make the kind of difference you seek?
 
3. My career uses my full potential (strongest talents).  What are your strongest talents?  How do you know this?  Who can validate that these are your strongest talents?  Have you exhibited these talents in your past endeavors?  Bottom line, do you know who you are and does this match what is required and valued in the careers under consideration?
 
4. There is sufficient opportunity for development and growth.  What does development and growth mean to you?  How much effort and commitment are you willing to give to your own personal development and growth?  Are the desired development and growth opportunities available in the careers under consideration?
 
5. In my career there is room for advancement. What does advancement mean for you?  What do you aspire to achieve?  Is this advancement available in the careers under consideration?
 
6. My career allows for the proper work/life balance.  What are your outside interests?  How important are these outside interests?  Which of these outside interests do you not want to give up?  How much time do you want to spend on rest, relaxation, and personal things?  Do the careers under consideration offer these opportunities?

~end~

Review other internet survey results


Nineteen Conditions Contributing to a Satisfying Career
 

1. My work/career makes a difference
 
2. I find the tasks of my current career challenging
 
3. I find my career professionally fulfilling
 
4. In my career, I can learn as much as I desire to learn
 
5. My career uses my full potential (strongest talents)
 
6. In my career there is room for advancement
 
7. I find my career personally satisfying
 
8. I am proud of my work/career
 
9. My career accurately reflects my values
 
10. I can be my own boss
 
11. I feel involved at work
 
12. My career contributes to my self-confidence
 
13. My career provides sufficient financial security
 
14. My career allows for the proper work/life balance
 
15. I have a supportive supervisor
 
16. My co-workers are enjoyable
 
17. I receive adequate performance feedback
 
18. There is sufficient opportunity for development and growth
 
19. I feel in charge of my career
 

Contact Matt Starcevich, matt@coachingandmentoring
Copyright 2009, Center for Coaching and Mentoring