How do you find a job you love? Like finding a life partner, you need to take a series of actions—first understand yourself, then find out what’s available, and finally, have “dates” with prospects to identify your true career love.
Step 1: Do The Big 5 Personality Quiz
Finding a job you love starts with understanding yourself. Researchers have found that there is science behind your personality— there are 5 traits that make up every person’s character (and your character may surprise you!):
- Openness: How you approach new ideas and creativity.
- Conscientiousness: How you approach details and get things done.
- Extroversion: How you approach people and socialize.
- Agreeableness: How you approach cooperation and teamwork.
- Neuroticism: How much you worry and feel emotionally stable.
Your personality can affect what kinds of jobs will best suit you. Check out the ideas below:
- If you are high in openness (remember to take the free test below), you should look for jobs that are highly creative and can be different every day.
- If you are low in openness, you should look for jobs with many routines and traditions.
- If you are highly conscientious, you will likely enjoy jobs that require you to be very organized and self-disciplined.
- If you are low in conscientiousness, you may enjoy jobs that will give you a high degree of freedom.
- If you are high in extroversion, you can look for jobs with lots of human interaction.
- If you are low in extroversion, you can look for jobs that allow you to finish most of the work independently.
- If you are highly agreeable, you may enjoy jobs that require you to be empathetic and caring.
- If you are low in agreeableness, you may enjoy more analytical and detached jobs.
- If you are high in neuroticism, you might do better with jobs that are more stable and less stressful.
- If you are low in neuroticism, you may tolerate stressful and unstable jobs better than others.
However, it’s essential to keep an open mind at this stage. A job title (e.g., analyst) may not reveal exactly what the job will entail. You may not be sure until you’ve seen the job description and talked to people doing a similar position (Step 5 – 7).
- Take the Big 5 Personality Quiz for free here.
- Keep a Dream Jobs List—write down what’s important to you in terms of the Big 5 and a few potential jobs that may match your personality.
Step 2: Reflect On Your Previous Professional Experience
There is a lot of insight about what you like versus dislike from your previous experiences. You may also want to take time to understand what you’ve learned vs. what you’d like to develop next. Ask yourself the following questions as you reflect:
- Did you enjoy having detailed instructions for what you needed to do or having autonomy?
- Did you enjoy leading a team or being an individual contributor?
- Did you enjoy a quantitative analysis or creative process?
- Did you enjoy having flexibility around work location/schedule?
- Would you like to develop expertise because you were previously doing a “generalist” job?
- Would you like to develop more soft skills or leadership because you were an individual contributor doing quantitative analyses?
The answers to the above questions, combined with your findings from Steps 1 – 2, will help you figure out what you will likely enjoy doing and what goals you want to achieve for the next stage of your life.
Step 3: Observe What You Do On Sundays
Another way to understand what you may naturally enjoy doing is to observe and ask yourself: What have you been doing on Sunday afternoons?
- Reading books about investments?
- Creating videos about your cat and sharing them on social media?
- Playing pranks on your little brother? Shhh…
If a job can integrate elements of what you naturally enjoy doing, you will likely love that job. For example, if you have already been reading/writing stories in your free time, maybe you can work in PR, marketing, or even be a screenwriter in Hollywood!
Besides, if a job fits your current lifestyle, you will probably enjoy it more.
- Reflect on what you have naturally drawn to without realizing it.
- Add your newly-discovered favorite activities and a few potential jobs based on them to your Dream Job List.
Step 4: Talk To Your Close Friends, Colleagues, And Mentors About Your Strengths
One of the best ways to fast-track your self-discovery is by talking to people who know you well and have had deep interactions with you. Your ex-girlfriends/ex-boyfriends may also be a great source but speak to them at your own risk (joking).
But seriously, talk to your exes if you are on good terms because they know you well and have likely seen both your good and not-so-good sides.
Get a comprehensive view of yourself by talking to your colleagues and advisors, too!
Specifically, ask them:
- What are your strengths/talents?
- What activities do they think may light you up?
- What career paths might leverage both your strengths and passion?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What do they think you can improve for a more prosperous and fulfilling life?
Whatever you do in the future, you will have the best chance of success if it’s the overlap of your strengths and what you love. Many of us have imposter syndrome—we don’t know how good we are. Your close friends and mentors may see your strengths more clearly.
- Talk to at least 5 friends, colleagues, family members, and mentors who know you well or have had close interactions with you. Ask them the above questions and identify any common trends.
- Fine-tune your Dream Job List with your new findings.
Step 5: Go To LinkedIn And Look For Dream Jobs
Now you’ve understood yourself reasonably well. You’ve done 50% of the work! Congrats!
Let’s see what’s available in the LinkedIn Wonderland that may fit you. Don’t go down any rabbit hole yet. Our goal is to see actual job postings and identify those you might enjoy doing based on their job descriptions. This is a great way to discover jobs you haven’t thought of!
Go to Linkedin.com, click the Jobs tab in the top bar menu, and input jobs from your Dream Job List. For example, analyst, consulting, or product manager.
LinkedIn will produce a large number of jobs based on your search terms. Some results may give you more specific information. For example, if you input “Product Manager,” you will see the job from TikTok looking for a Product Manager specifically for the TikTok Social team.
Click the job posts that look appealing to you. Read their job descriptions carefully. Visualize you working there. Ask yourself: will I enjoy doing this every day?
If the answer is yes, write down that job in a new list—The know More List.
- Input job titles from your Dream Job List in the LinkedIn search bar.
- Pick the job posts that pique your interest, and read their job descriptions carefully. If a job description seems to fit your preference based on Steps 1 – 4, note it down in Know More List. Find at least 10 jobs.
Step 6: Talk To Employees Working In Your Target Companies
Desk research can only go so far. It’s important to talk to employees working at the firms, or even better—the hiring manager or someone working at the team where the job is coming from (e.g., The Social team at TikTok).
If you have connections at that firm/team, reach out to them! If you don’t already have relationships, search for people working in that firm and request to connect.
Look at their profiles carefully, and ensure you write a personalized note when you send the request. A customized message increases the chance of them accepting your connect request significantly!
Here’s a template for personalizing your note:
Hi Jeff, I noticed you’ve worked at TikTok for 2 years as a Product Manager. May I chat with you for 10 minutes about your product management experience at TikTok? I’m trying to learn more about product management in the tech space, so I would greatly appreciate your insights!
Most people probably won’t reply. Therefore, it’s essential to reach out to enough people. It’s a numbers game.
- Reach out to people on LinkedIn working in your target companies.
- Find at least 2-3 people to chat with you.
Step 7: Do Informational Chats
The last step of finding a job you love is finally here (drum rolls…). Reading a job description is like watching a trailer—it may look like a good movie, but it’s hard to be sure until you’ve watched it.
Talking to people working in the firm is like watching that movie.
If they’re doing the job you want to do, ask them about the specific job. If they work in the same firm/team but a different function, ask them about the firm/the team.
As you ask them the following questions, picture you working there… And how it makes you feel.
Some questions for you to consider asking:
- What do you love most about the job (or the firm/team)?
- What’s your 9-5/work schedule like?
- What resources/training will you have access to?
- What would you change about the job (or the firm/team)?
If you’re not interested in that job after the chat, cross it off your Know More List and move on.
However, when you find yourself less interested in a job, it’s essential to ask yourself: are you genuinely not interested, or just being fearful—doubting your abilities to do it well because you failed at a similar job before, or afraid that you don’t have enough experience?
Answer the question with 100% honesty. Don’t cross it off if you’re simply afraid. Find more people doing that job and ask them how they got the job and overcame challenges similar to yours.
Bonus Tip: What To Do If You Have No Passion?
Grow a couple. The first few times Roger Federer picked up his tennis racket, he didn’t enjoy it—he could barely hit the balls, and picking up 50 balls every 10 minutes was tiring. However, he kept on practicing. Slowly, he found himself enjoying perfecting every swing.
Your genuine passion takes time to identify and develop. You may even hate it at your first encounter.
If you have no passion, pick three things you know you wouldn’t hate to do (based on Steps 1 – 4), and force yourself to spend at least 20 hours on it. According to TED speaker Josh Kaufman, you can get pretty good at almost anything if you spend 20 hours on it. If you still don’t enjoy it after, grow something else. Don’t give up too soon.
How to Find a Job You Love Takeaway
Finding a job you love requires you to take a series of actions to understand yourself, find out what’s available, and have chats with people already working in the firm/team. Specifically,
- Understand yourself through taking the Big 5 Quiz, observing your natural preferences on weekends, and talking to people who know you well.
- Find out available jobs that match your preferences on LinkedIn.
- Reach out to people already doing the jobs you desire and visualize if you can do that job every day.
- If you don’t have a passion, grow a couple. Passion takes time to identify and develop.