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Are You in the Right Job? Here's How to Know and What to Do About It!
by Vaughan Evans


One-half of US employees are dissatisfied with their jobs, up from two-fifths 10 years ago. Are you one of them?

If you are seriously dissatisfied, it’s going to affect your attitude. And that may show up in your performance. It could also put you at risk of losing out to others who are more satisfied with what they do.

But are you really in the wrong job or business? Or is it just a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? Are you dissatisfied or unfulfilled for little or no reason? How can you tell?

Here are some steps to help you figure out if you’re in the right job.

Think of yourself as a business. Would you back yourself? Would you invest in You, Inc? If the answer is no, you’re in the wrong job. To invest in a business, or in this case, in yourself, you need to be comfortable on three main fronts: that market demand for your services is buoyant, that competition is not too tough, and that you are reasonably well placed to succeed.

Consider market demand for You, Inc. You need to be sure that demand for you is not about to fall off a cliff. If you worked as a travel agent before the dot-com era, long-term demand for your services would not have looked promising, given the looming threat from e-booking and e-ticketing. Is there something happening in your industry that could affect future demand for your services?

See who’s competing. You need reassurance that there are not too many people competing for jobs the same or similar to yours. For example, if you work in the printing industry, you may find that jobs like yours are being outsourced to Asia. Some manufacturing companies have moved their entire operations overseas. Who’s lined up to replace you?
Check how you measure up. How well placed are you in your marketplace? How well do you meet the capabilities needed to succeed in your job? Do you have the right skills, knowledge, and experience? Are you efficient enough? Is your attitude right? Is your heart in what you do? If not, you’re in danger of becoming unbackable.

Become more backable. If you find you are in the right job, how can you become more backable? You need a strategy. Which of your strengths can you build on? Which of your weaknesses can you improve in? What study, training, or related work experience can you undertake to reinforce that strength, or negate that weakness?

Consider moving on. If you find you’re unbackable in your current job, it may be time to move on, to a job where you would be backable—preferably in a field that brings out the hwyl in you, the Celtic concept of passion, fervor, and spirit that can lift you to extremes of success. But how to find such a job, and how would you know whether you would be backable there?

List and screen jobs that ignite your passion. Make a long list of all those jobs and businesses done by friends, family, colleagues, people in newspapers or on TV, fictional people in books, movies, etc. that you find exciting, and rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 by the amount of hwyl you would feel if you were doing them. Take the top dozen and screen them for gut-feel backability. How promising are the market conditions, and how well placed would you be in such a job? If none look promising, move on to the next dozen, always moving in descending order of hwyl.

Do a reality check. Take the two or three most promising jobs that emerge from your screen and subject them to the same rigor of analysis that you did on your current job earlier on (market demand, competition, your position). Of course, you won’t know as much about these target jobs as you do your current job, so you will have to do some research. Talk to practitioners, talk to their customers. How could you slot in? What entry strategy should you deploy?

Take Raquel, a Los Angeles bus driver. She was in a job where demand outstripped supply, with vacancies cropping up regularly. She was an excellent driver and had 18 years of experience. Raquel should have been highly backable—well placed in a buoyant job market. There was only one problem: Her heart wasn’t in the job. On the contrary, she was becoming ever more stressed by both the LA traffic and the rude drivers—and passengers. Raquel found she was becoming irritable and oversensitive.  She was in danger of becoming unbackable. So she went through the process as set out above. It revealed that gardening was her passion, even though she had never considered it as a possible source of income. Raquel went to evening classes for two years before quitting her driving job and setting up her own garden design and maintenance business. She hasn’t looked back since.

That could be you, too! One of the problems with feeling discontent in a job is we don’t know what to do or where to start. Raquel’s example shows that these basic steps will get you moving on the right track to finding the right job, or feeling good about your chances of success in your current job.


The Author

Vaughan Evans

Vaughan Evans is a renowned economist, business strategist, sought-after speaker, and the author of Backing U! A Business-Oriented Guide to Backing Your Passion and Achieving Career Success (Business and Careers Press, 2009, 

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2010 by Vaughan Evans. All rights reserved.

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