How many of us have had our heart sink turning up for our first day at a new job as we realise we are in the wrong place. I envy those I have met on the way through for whom every day is a pleasure and work truly inspires them.

Whilst we are all under pressure to work, earn and develop our careers, all the research shows that the more we enjoy our work and the more engaged in it we are, the more productive we will be. As a consequence, time invested in working out and understanding what we really want from our working lives is critical.

For sure, many of us will never be truly inspired by our work and will spend much of their careers just enduring it. However, the more we want to do it and enjoy it, the more effective we will be. So, the best chance we have of finding the ideal job is putting our energy into identifying what that job might look like. At least in that way, even if you never find the perfect role, you have something to measure each opportunity with. Whilst you might work out how far from ideal the opportunity is, it might be closer to that ideal than the role you currently are doing.


One of the best pieces of career advice I ever got is to work out where you want to get to and then work back from there. In doing so, you will begin to plot a path of the different skills and experience you will need to get there. There are two main advantages in doing this. Firstly, you will have more direction as you move from role to role (be that internally or externally) to pick up the skills and experience you need to achieve the end goal. Secondly, you can give yourself permission for that next role to not be perfect. If it aligns with your end game, fantastic; you can give yourself permission to accept imperfection in the short term as it is part of what is needed to meet the overall end.


So how do you end up with the job you really want? Start by asking yourself, then ask others around you. There are all sorts of self-help books to support you in working this out. However for me, money aside, it’s always been a combination of four ingredients:

  1. What are the tasks you are doing on a day to day basis?
  2. How do these align with the skills you have and, in combination, are you able to do and enjoy your role?
  3. How much autonomy do you have relative to the experience you have and the autonomy you want
  4. Do you enjoy working with the people you are working with and have a similar set of values to them and the organisation as a whole?

Get the above worked out and then you can focus your energy on identifying and getting the job you really want. When you get to interview, you will be better equipped and energised; you will have a much stronger narrative and rational for the role. Similarly, when you are there you will have much more to say in the interview and be more likely to present the best version of yourself.

The corollary is also true. Be honest with yourself when you don’t want the job. Don’t apply for it, or pull out of the process as soon as you realise it’s wrong. If it’s not you then, at some point, no matter how much energy you spent trying to prove to yourself and others to the contrary, it will be time to move on again.

Want to learn more? Contact Oliver:


Call Oliver on +44 (0)7703 168082

Book a call