The vast majority of people want careers that provide a sense of purpose. In fact, new research shows that 75% of millennials will actually take a pay cut to find deeper meaning in their work. Sadly, most people don’t find it. Data from Gallup shows that 65% are not engaged in their jobs, and it’s at crisis levels.
If you’re one of the many who is not feeling purpose in your work, how can you find an organization and role that needs your skills and values your ideals?
Figure Out Your Purpose and Validate Your Career Direction
There is a difference between purpose and cause. Working for a cause won’t necessarily fulfill your purpose. The nonprofit sector is bleeding talent because it confuses causes for individual purpose. Cause is more of the purpose on the cake.– Aaron Hurst, Founder and CEO of Imperative, author of The Purpose Economy
The truth is, most people could do some work on better understanding what will make them happy. This means that your “dream job” is probably not actually your dream job. In other words, if you follow your current trajectory, you’ll likely end up in the mass of dissatisfied workers working today.
At every stage of your career path, it’s important to find purpose, exercise your strengths, and work at a level of autonomy that is comfortable to you. Simply put, just because your organization creates social good, doesn’t mean that you’ll find purpose in your work there.
On a more personal level, to help figure out what moves you, it’s critical to map out your assumptions, and then validate those assumptions by researching, experimenting, and networking. The For-Good Career Validation Board below can help you get started:
Get More Experience to Build Your Skills
Any employer, especially those with programs that contribute to environmental and social good, aren’t just looking for a candidate with the right skills. They want to know you’ve spent time in the field working on social change issues – and proof that you’ve made an impact there.– Aaron Hurst
Indeed, research shows that employers are increasingly seeking people with relevant experience, not just education. Finding stretch experiences to grow at your current organization isn’t always possible. However, considering a lack of access to expertise is one of the leading barriers to progress globally, there is no shortage of projects to support resource-strapped organizations, if you know where to look.
First, figure out what moves you and what skills you need to develop to qualify for a job in the type of organization you want to work. Then, preferably with the help of your manager, a mentor, or a formal coach, identify the parts of your profile where you need to stretch yourself and grow. Use this information to help you find a skills-based volunteer experience in that role. The following table shows you skills you can develop by volunteering, and where you can go to find relevant projects.
I’m sure we all feel the same- this is a hard path, that takes time, and a lot of work, but the prize is a fulfilling career that makes us and the world better. There are no shortcuts here, but there are tools and resources to support you along the way.
About the Author: Mark Horoszowski works to empower social enterprises and high-impact individuals to make a positive impact, faster. He's one of the co-founders of MovingWorlds, and an adjunct faculty member at University of Washington Tacoma's Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility. In his free time, he contributes to Huffington Post Impact.