Learn how to decide if a job is right for you
BY ALISON DOYLE, Balance Careers
The average U.S. worker spends about a third of every weekday at work—that’s 7.6 hours a day, 38 hours a week, and about 1,900 hours a year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 Given that time commitment, it’s not surprising if you’d like your working hours to be, well, fun.
Does it sound like an impossible dream? It isn’t. The first step is figuring out what a fun job looks like to you. Then your goal is to evaluate potential opportunities to find the roles that best fit your definition. Here’s how to get started
What Is a Fun Job?
A Moneypenny survey reports that industries with the highest percentage of happy employees include the following:
- Information technology (IT)
- Accountancy, banking, and finance
- Public services and administration
- Teacher training and education
- Science and pharmaceuticals
- Health care
- Hospitality and events management
- Transportation and logistics
Those are just some of the sectors in which you can find work that’s enjoyable. Everyone has their own definition of a fun job. Some people may want a low-stress atmosphere and flexible hours, while others prefer their workdays to be action-packed and more tightly regimented. For some employees, what matters more than their job is the people they work with and being able to be part of a team.
How To Decide What Makes a Job Fun
There are a few factors you should consider when deciding what a fun job means for you:
Alignment With Your Interests and Skills
What makes a job fun? You don’t need to find your ultimate dream job to be happy at work. But to be fun, a job needs to fit your abilities and interests. That doesn’t mean that you need to be highly skilled in your chosen profession right out of the gate. But it does mean that you need the talent and passion to pursue further training. It also means that you’re happy doing the job, whatever it may be.
Not sure what you want to do? Consider taking a free career assessment test online. Remember that when you’re first starting the career planning process, your goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your list will narrow as you learn more about each career option.
CareerOneStop offers a free interests assessor that helps you identify careers that match your enthusiasms and aptitudes.
Company culture is the attitude, values, and behaviors of an organization and its employees. Think of tech start-ups that give their employees goofy nicknames and offer free snacks and video games versus traditional financial institutions that have strict dress codes and long working hours
As with all aspects of finding a fun job, it’s not that some company cultures are bad and others are good—although there are toxic company cultures out there in all industries and, obviously, you want to avoid those. The key is to find a culture that’s a good fit for you. For example, if you’re an introvert who prefers privacy and autonomy at work, a culture that prizes togetherness and teamwork won’t work
For some people, long hours are just fine. Maybe they’re young and eager to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible. Perhaps they love their work (or their stock options) and have plenty of extra time. For others, the shorter the workday, the better.
The length of the workday isn’t the only thing to consider. If you have other obligations outside of work—caring for children or other family members, absorbing hobbies, volunteering, or side gigs, etc.—you may need flexibility as well.
Sense of Mission
Not everyone wants a job that will help them save the world. But, if you have a strong sense of mission, it’s a good idea to look for a job at a company that shares your values. It will make your work feel more meaningful.
Room for Growth
Nothing lasts forever. Even if you love your job and have no designs on your boss’s position, you need to keep growing in order to stay happy. This might mean picking up new skills, taking on stretch assignments, or making new contacts.
And if you do want to climb the organization chart, it’s important to find jobs that will let you do that. Look for employers that speak specifically about promoting from within.
Some employers want you to enjoy work because companies can benefit from having a fun workplace. A Penn State study reports that having fun at work is related to informal learning and improved job performance. Many hiring managers will say their open jobs are fun if you ask them directly.
How Can You Tell if a Job or Workplace Will Be Fun?
But can you believe them? They may be trying to sell you on the job, or they may just have a different idea of what constitutes fun. So, if you want to find fun jobs that are worthy of that description, you may have to be a little sneaky.
Here’s how to learn more about a job or workplace to see if it’s a good fit for you.
Consider the Likability Factor
First impressions are valuable, and one of the first steps in deciding whether you’ll enjoy a job is to evaluate what you like (and dislike) about the role and the people you’ll be working with.
Likability is subjective, but if you like the people you meet during the hiring process and your first impression is positive, it’s a good start. If you don’t, it can be a sign that this isn’t going to be the job you are looking for.
Ask the Right Questions
Remember that a job interview goes both ways. When it’s your time to ask questions, ask the right ones. For example, if you’re trying to learn more about the company culture, ask questions such as
- How would you describe your corporate culture in five words?
- What’s the best part of working here that I wouldn’t be able to see on a tour?
- What kind of employee achievements does the company recognize?
Tour the Office (and Pay Attention)
If you get a chance to go on an office tour, take it. You’ll learn a lot about the company culture and get a sense of what it would be like to work there each day. Pay attention to the office layout, noise level, evidence of collaboration and/or private workspace, and so on.
If you’re interviewing for a remote position, you may be able to participate in a virtual tour of the office.
Meet Current Employees
Many organizations will give you the opportunity to meet with potential coworkers in addition to the hiring manager. Be sure to ask these folks about their favorite (and least favorite) aspects of the job. Note their demeanor and body language as well as what they say. Do they seem as if they’re eager to go to work each day—or just the opposite?
Talk to Your Connections
When you have LinkedIn connections at a company, ask them what they like best about working there. If you’re a college student or graduate, check with your career services office to see if they have a network you can utilize to reach out to alumni contacts at the company.
Do you have family or friends who work there or who know someone at the organization? Ask them for insight into what the company is like to work for. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to decide if a job is fun—or if it’s not.
Read Employee Reviews
Check Out the Company
Review the company’s website, LinkedIn page, and social media profiles. Read the latest news articles about the company and its employees.
- Are the “About Us” and “Careers” sections of the website interesting?
- Is the description of the organization enticing?
- Are the social media posts engaging?
Reading everything you can find about a prospective employer can provide insight into what it’s like to work there.
Listen to Your Gut
What if you’ve asked the right questions, met with the right people, done all your research, and come up with nothing negative, but still have a bad feeling about the job or the company?
Listen to your instincts. You may be noticing signs you can’t put into words just yet. In any case, a fun job isn’t fun if you’re uncomfortable at work. Trust your inner voice.
- Every worker will have their own definition of a fun job depending on their values, interests, aptitudes, and requirements.
- To find the right job for you, invest some time in understanding what you want in a job and a career.
- Pay attention to company culture, work schedule, flexibility, and opportunities for growth.