After earning your doctorate you have a distinct advantage in seeking your ideal job/career. You know how to find information and analyze and evaluate it. Throughout your doctoral studies you were developing improved critical thinking skills. You can now apply this new ability to locate your best employment situation.

Various research studies indicate that up to 80 percent of all working people are unhappy with many aspects of their job or career. When you include the “unemployed” individuals with the “under-employed” and the “mis-employed,” over 90 percent of the eligible total work-force in the country are dissatisfied with their work. This data makes a significant statement about the concept of work as a necessary evil, justified only by the need to make money. It illustrates the fact that many people have forgotten or never learned that work needs to be more than just a means of earning a livelihood. To be truly satisfying, work must give expression to the highest potential within the individual. This is what Abraham Maslow, Ph.D. in his book, A Theory of Human Motivation, called “self-actualization.” Work needs to be an opportunity for continued learning and growth, for without this there is a stagnation of life and a festering of boredom, frustration, hopelessness, and unhappiness.

Choose To Be Happy In Your Work

Kistler (2011) noted that “Adults are more responsive to internal motivators than external motivators. Most adults do respond to external motivators like better jobs, promotions and higher salaries; however, internal motivators like increased self-esteem, job satisfaction and quality of life are the most persuasive.” So why does the overwhelming majority of the population choose to be unhappy in their work?

The key word in this question is “choose.” Darren Hardy in his book, The Compound Effect: Multiplying Your Success One Step at a Time, delivers a profound concept that it is our choices, good or bad, conscious or unconscious, that bring us to this place or situation in our lives. Most people have a great degree of control when deciding on their job/career. Or do they?

Consider the circumstances behind the “choosing” of your work. Taylor (2008) makes the point that there is an instinctive drive among all humans to make meaning of their daily lives. He explains that because there are no enduring truths, and change is continuous, people cannot always be assured of what they know or believe. It therefore becomes imperative in adulthood that they develop a more critical worldview as they seek ways to better understand the world. This involves learning “how to negotiate and act upon their own purposes, values, feelings and meanings rather than those they have uncritically assimilated from others.”

In spite of apparent free will, many people seem to fall into a job quite by accident. You were looking and it was available; therefore it must be for you. Sometimes subtle pressures from parents or friends push you into “approved” work world positions. Or perhaps the values of society make some professions more acceptable than others. Often comments about your “limitations” keep you from the awareness of your many talents and capabilities. For others, the fantasized vision of a particular job draws you to it, but its reality makes you feel misplaced.

Unfortunately, the outer-directed influences are often stronger than our inner sense of our own needs and preferences. And it is often difficult to break these ties because they represent links to the past and to security. It may be difficult to let go of an idea of a particular job/career you thought was so important (especially when it required a significant investment of preparation).

Avoid Traditional Career Counselling

But sometimes when discomfort becomes greater than the feeling of security, people do let go. Often they seek professional help because their own previous efforts did not produce satisfying results. Traditional career counseling offers a barrage of tests which supposedly gather statistical information for funneling an individual’s skills and interests into the proper line of work. Once the right niche has been discovered, the individual is shown how to fit into the mold of that organization. Using role-playing techniques, the do’s and don’ts of interviewing are practiced and the individual is taught the right way to talk, act, and look. The concept of “saying what the employer wants to hear” becomes the key to success and the means to gainful employment. Sometimes these career consulting organizations even pave the way for their polished graduates by making contacts with potential employers who are seeking “the right kind” of employee.

How could such an objective approach ever fail?

And yet, too often these employees end up feeling they are right back where they started –dissatisfied, misplaced, unhappy, and unfulfilled. It would seem that traditional career consulting and coaching overlooks the key ingredient in the creation of the ideal job – that is, your uniqueness.

Brookfield (1994) believed that it is important for the adult to use critical thinking. He stated, “A critical thinker is someone who is in the habit of attempting to identify and examine the assumptions that underlie his or her habitual ways of thinking about something, and the assumptions underlying habitual ways of acting in situations -identifying and scrutinizing them as to whether or not they are well-grounded in reality.” It is the subjective elements of your behaviors, attitudes, and experiences which goes into making your life what it is today. Unless these are considered in an analysis of the job/career which is right for you, results will be less than satisfying.

It is more important to ask yourself what you want rather than what the organization wants. It is more important to encourage the expression of your uniqueness than to determine how you can be made to fit the structure of the position.

Recognize Your Uniqueness

The philosophy we emphasize here is your uniqueness and encourages an exploration of your total being in the search for your perfect job or career. We teach that this search is an on-going process subject to the influences of a constantly changing marketplace. It is crucial to be sensitive to these changes and to use them as opportunities for increased growth and learning. It is important to empower yourself with techniques that give a deeper sense of self and greater control over the future. It is essential to help enhance your self-perceptions and self-efficacy and become more open to the possibility of limitless potential as you approach the job market. It is essential to gain an overview of your past experiences which highlight your significant events and influences. Identifying both the positive and negative aspects of previous work experiences is important.

The concept of “burnout” and its consequences are important to become aware of as well as means of combating it. Reviewing your most personally significant successes and accomplishments, both work and non-work related is encouraged. You want to recognize the multitude of skills, abilities, and special knowledge which you have demonstrated throughout your life. This recognition is enhanced by asking others what they see as skills and abilities you may not notice as special because you took them for granted.

Identify Your Key Factors

As you review your past and expand your self-concept, you can develop a list of factors which provide a framework for a specific job/career seeking strategy. These factors include values and purposes which you feel gives your life meaning and measurable goals which serve as a guide in your job search. You will also want to identify your: transferrable skills, special knowledge(s), preferred salary range, level of responsibility, working conditions, employment location, and types of co-workers. This list of factors provides invaluable information once you have prioritized them. The pathway to effective job/career change then becomes more focused and the sense of direction more defined.

Find The Hidden Jobs

As your job/career search strategy takes shape, discovering the techniques of what Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, calls the “hidden job market” could be helpful. Since about 80 percent of all jobs are never advertised, individuals who know where and how to look for these hidden jobs have a definite advantage in getting their ideal job/career. His book will teach you to use information interviewing as one technique to develop a network of contacts, who can help you find openings before they are advertised. Once your targeted job/career has been identified, it will be easier to write an appropriate creative resume that assists you in securing the specific position you want.

One of the most continually helpful things you can do is to form a support group of one or two people who can offer you encouragement and compliments. These individuals may also be seeking employment, but that is not required. What counts is that they care about your efforts to find your ideal job and career.


Bolles, R. (2014). What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. Ten Speed Press: New York.

Interview with Stephen Brookfield. (1994). ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 51(1), 3-17.

Hardy, D. (2010). The Compound Effect. Vanguard Press. Philadelphia, PA

Kistler, M. J. (2011). Adult Learners: Considerations for Education and Training. Techniques: Connecting Education and Careers, 86(2), 28-30.

Maslow, A.H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.

Taylor, E. W. (2008). Transformative Learning Theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, (119), 5-15.


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