8 Important Qualities Of The "Right" Job

Biological Engineer By Samantha Sutton, PhD
Biological Engineer
Samantha Sutton has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT as a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow. She has presented her life design philosophy to companies such as Google and the National Cancer Institute as well as universities like Duke, Stanford, and Yale.

If you absolutely love your job, then you are likely aware of that fact. If you are miserable at your job, then you're probably aware of that, too.

But what about if you're somewhere in the middle?

You enjoy your job but wonder whether you should start looking for something even better. This is a tough decision, and one that most of us will inevitably struggle with at some point during our careers. There is no magic formula to tell you the answer, because we each have different goals and values.

This list of some of the most important job qualities can serve as a rough starting point to evaluate how well your job matches up to your standards:

Eight Important Qualities of the "Right" Job

How does your job stack up against these eight criteria?

  1. You are appreciated and respected. You know that if you do a good job, you will be praised and rewarded. You are trusted, and your opinion matters.
  2. You appreciate and respect you co-workers. You might not always see eye-to-eye with them, but you consider them to be smart people with whom you enjoy spending the day solving problems.
  3. Your compensation matches (or exceeds) your needs. Your salary and benefits are such that you can meet your spending and savings targets.
  4. You can live the lifestyle you want. Many factors go into this one: Do you like the hours you work? The amount of vacation time you get? The location of the job? The flexibility of the workday? The ability to work from home?
  5. You feel as though your work matters and is making a difference. At the end of the day, do you feel as though your work affected someone or something in a meaningful way?
  6. You feel talented and competent at your job … or as though you could be with time. You feel as though you are truly great at what you do or have the talent to become great with some more time and practice.
  7. You are learning and growing. Instead of doing the same thing every day, you are able to branch out and learn new skills. This keeps your job fresh and interesting.
  8. You enjoy the daily work itself. Sure, every job will have some negative qualities. But on the whole, you enjoy the actual work that you do.

How to Use Them to Evaluate Your Current Job

These eight points are not black and white and can therefore be tricky to evaluate. To help figure out how many of them you're checking off with your current job, you can:

  1. Score each quality on a point scale of 1 (your job lacks this quality) to 10 (nailed it!).
  2. Add up all of the points.
  3. Examine your total. If it's above 55, your job is promising. If it's below 55, you might want to consider making some changes at work.

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Again, this is a rough metric, but it's a way for you to start understanding in what areas your job is lacking and brainstorm ways to bring that rating up.

I have found that my clients who take on this exercise eventually raise their total "job score" by five or more points with a combination of the following strategies:


How to Use Them to Improve Your Current Job

For each low-scoring quality, you can often bring up the rating by:

  • Having a conversation and making a request.
  • Focusing on your priorities.
  • Building a structure or habit.
  • Reaching out to connect with others.
  • Growing your own confidence
  • Limiting gossip, complaining, and criticizing.
  • Being grateful for the good aspects of your job.

For example, one of my clients who worked in accounting scored her job at 50 because she was unhappy with her lifestyle and didn’t enjoy her work. At first glance, this might seem like a deal breaker. But, after digging a bit deeper, she discovered that the real problem was poor prioritizing.

She had developed the reputation of being a "yes” person who would help with any project, and as a result she's been spread too thin. She actually did like accounting, but she found it difficult to enjoy her job because she was constantly stressed and overworked. After building some hard-and-fast rules about taking on projects and honoring the most important aspects of her job, she was able to craft a more manageable and rewarding schedule in a few months.

At the end of the day, do you feel as though your work affected someone or something in a meaningful way?

By approaching your job through this more quantitative lens, you'll be able to clearly recognize the areas that could use some improvement.

Looking for more information on how to love (or leave) your current job? Here are some related reads:

  • 5 Things You Should Do Before Quitting A Job You Hate
  • 10 Tips To Love The Job You Have Now

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