How To Discover Job Fulfillment In Your First Job

In 2016, a video circulated around Facebook and provided a (somewhat) new perspective on Millennials in the Workplace. This interview with Simon Sinek, a best-selling author and TED Speaker, discusses the challenges in managing Millennials as well as the factors that have contributed to challenges in managing a multi-generational workplace. Whether you agree with his perspective or not, he briefly touches on a troubling topic.

Millennials struggle to, and may never, find job satisfaction.

This fact is evident in the decreasing average work tenure and increasing number of job-hopping candidates considered for employment. Contentment is hard to achieve in the workplace during an era of instant gratification. Millennials generally are very much concerned with making a difference in the world ranging from taking social and environmental responsibility to innovation through entrepreneurship. So why is it so difficult to be satisfied with the work that you're doing?

In an era of instant gratification, working hard for a number of years before seeing any ground-breaking results or major impacts is frustrating. It's critical to have realistic expectations, a positive attitude, and patience when joining the workforce for the first time.

How To Discover Job Fulfillment In Your First Job | Off The Clock Resumes

Prepare For The Dissatisfiers

There is a theory created by Frederick Herzberg that identifies what influences job fulfillment. The two-factor theory states that we are driven by motivators and hygiene issues (or "dissatisfiers"). The most common dissatisfiers are company policies, supervision, salary, workplace relationships, and the overall environment. 

When starting your first job, you should accept that your employer may not meet each of your expectations right away or even within the next few years. Remember that company policies are in place to protect the company itself and keep general practices in alignment with the overall company goal, but policies can often change with time and valid reasoning. Managers and frustrating co-workers will come and go. Salary will increase with a proven record of high performance over time.


Define "Meaningful Work"

Making a difference in the world will require time, a fair amount of failure, and both professional and personal growth. A great way to enter the workplace is with a clear vision of what you consider "meaningful work." Often meaningful work will relate to solving problems, spreading positivity, or improving something.

Meaningful work will vary from person to person. A few questions you should ask yourself to determine what "meaningful work" means to you include:

  • How do you and your efforts contribute to the "big picture" at work?

  • What results would you like to see come directly from your efforts?

  • In which areas of your work do you feel most excited about?

  • In which areas at work do you feel most valuable?


Identify Your Purpose

To have fulfillment at work, you need to identify your purpose. Clarity in your role and primary goals will immediately help you in the workplace. Even the smallest role has a purpose. If you were hired on as an assistant, your purpose is to streamline the work or alleviate some of the stress of another with more responsibility than you.

Once you've identified your purpose, it's important to remember that even your smallest efforts contribute to the "big picture." Over time, your role will change and you will acquire more responsibility. By keeping your purpose in mind, you will find some fulfillment in every task.


Refresh Your Perspective

A negative attitude will prevent you from finding job fulfillment no matter what job you have. Starting a new job with a positive attitude will set the tone for your day-to-day. Sometimes work becomes challenging or monotonous, and we need a perspective reboot. Changing your perspective through expressed gratitude, personal reflection, or simply taking a break can be therapeutic.


Focus On Your Motivators

According to Herzberg's two-factor theory, the motivators that positively impact job fulfillment are typically the work itself, achievement, recognition, responsibility, and advancement. If you find fulfillment in the work itself, you're already well off. For the rest of us who struggle to enjoy menial tasks, focusing on other motivators can greatly impact how much fulfillment we have in the work we do.

Start your day with a list of only three things that you want to accomplish that day or week no matter how small they are, and celebrate all of the little wins. Acknowledge any recognition you receive, whether formal or informal, from a co-worker or supervisor. Ask for more responsibility when your routine gets stagnant. Whenever an opportunity for advancement arises, go for it. The motivators will keep you moving forward and enhance your overall job satisfaction.


Make Little Changes

Once you've been in the same job for a while, boredom can sneak up on you and dampen your job fulfillment. Making little changes in your routine or how you complete a task will keep you from getting discouraged from boredom.

Remember that job fulfillment is not dependent on the moment but the journey as a whole. For true job fulfillment, that journey will be much longer than a few months or even a few years. Those little changes should evolve into personal development and professional growth. That growth will prove to produce the results that you want to achieve in your career.


Find/Be A Mentor

A support system can help hold you accountable. Finding a mentor and learning from a superior at work or within your field will benefit you in more than a few ways. Often larger corporations have structured mentorship programs. If your employer does not offer up a mentor, seek one out by simply networking and asking questions.


Mentorship promotes job fulfillment in several ways. A mentor can be a great source of knowledge, a professional reference, and a motivator. Becoming a mentor can also add value to your career and personal development. As a mentor, you will be held to a higher standard and be relied on for motivation and expertise.


Reassess Your Goals

When all else fails, consider reassessing and updating your goals. If your primary goal was to get a job and you did, you should start setting new goals in order to keep moving forward. Dissatisfaction can easily stem from a lack of direction. Your goals should also permeate every area in your life. Now that you reached a career goal, set a few personal goals or financial goals to work toward.