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Joe Szynkowski: Discovering career happiness one step at a time

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I spend a lot of time talking to people who hate their jobs. So much time that I should probably consider getting a degree in counseling.

When you help people improve their careers, listening to their issues comes with the territory. It’s actually one of the most enjoyable parts of what I do, as weird as that may sound.

Within each complaint lives a tiny nugget of gold that can lead to major breakthroughs. And people are surprisingly willing to take a little tough love when it comes to analyzing their current effort in finding career happiness.

Here’s an example from a real-life job seeker I talked to this week: “I don’t make enough money. My friends are making three times as much as me and we have the same skillset.”

Here’s another from this week: “I’m bored. I’m making a ton of money but don’t get excited about work anymore. I want to believe in what I’m selling.”

These two juxtaposing stories prove that each professional is different. We have varying goals and personal ambitions driving our career choices. And this is true across industries, age groups, and leadership levels.

A 2022 Gallup poll found six key factors that employees consider most important when deciding whether or not to take a job with a different organization:

No. 1: A significant increase in income or benefits (64% said “very important”)

No. 2: Greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing (61%)

No. 3: The ability to do what they do best (58%)

No. 4: Greater stability and job security (53%)

No. 5: COVID-19 vaccination policies that align with my beliefs (43%)

No. 6: The organization is diverse and inclusive of all types of people (42%)

These are interesting factors driving today’s candidate pool. A good first step to finding career happiness is identifying your personal priorities.

Are you looking for more money and better benefits? Start by talking with your current company. There may be ways for you to take on additional responsibilities, a larger sales territory, or a bigger team in exchange for a higher salary or commissions.

Is a greater work-life balance more important to you? Look for companies that offer hybrid work environments and flexible time-off structures. I consult with a couple of companies that don’t even track time off. Their employees are trusted to get their work done without punching a time clock or filling out vacation request forms.

Does diversity matter most to you? Look for organizations that place a premium on bringing different groups of people together. I support a company in the technology space — predominately represented by men — that takes pride in hiring females at a pace that is two times better than the industry average.

Noticing a common theme? Finding these types of opportunities cannot be a passive activity. You cannot simply watch your friends make more money than you or show up bored to work every day and expect things to change.

Discovering things is hard. There isn’t always a map. It takes hard work, creativity, and most of all, commitment.

The good news? Career happiness is worth discovering.

Joe Szynkowski is the happy founder and owner of The UpWrite Group, a small local firm that has offered corporate communications, personal branding, public relations, and ghostwriting services since 2008. Email for more information.


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