How to Find a Job You Love

What does it mean to love your job? If you spend every work day daydreaming about moving to the Bahamas and becoming a barista, you probably don’t love your job. When you love your job, you enjoy coming in to the office. Even when you aren’t actually working, you’re thinking about your own career development and how you can improve. You’re a positive influence on company culture. You enjoy the people you work with. You feel heard and that what you’re bringing to the table actually matters. You’re always trying to stretch yourself, to learn, to experience.

Does that sound like you? That’s awesome. If it doesn’t sound like you, you’re in the right place. At VanderHouwen, we’re experts at connecting talent to roles they find both challenging and fulfilling. So if you’re looking to find a job you love, here are our best tips.

1. Take inventory of what’s important to you

Finding a job you love starts with knowing who you are. Take inventory of what's important to you, what your values are, and what your goals are. What does it mean for you to be happy? Here are some things to consider when deciding what matters to you: work/life balance, salary, professional development opportunities, technical skills, industry expertise, work environment, company size, and company culture. Use this as a baseline, so when you start to compare job opportunities, you’ll be better able to assess whether certain positions actually meet your needs. If you don't know what makes you happy, it's going to be hard for you to determine if your next role is the right choice.

Remember, this is both on a personal level and professional level. On a professional level, your goals may be more oriented towards your expertise and education. But on a personal level, consider the work environment of the company and the responsibilities of the role itself. If you’re introverted and not a confident presenter, does the role you’re looking at involve a lot of public speaking or working with others? If that’s a skill you want to develop, then great! But if you’d prefer to avoid those kinds of roles, keep that in mind when you make decisions about your next job.

2. Be open-minded when reading job descriptions

Well-written job descriptions should include a mission statement, clearly distinguish between preferred qualifications and required qualifications, and embody the company’s brand voice in every word. But not all job descriptions do this, even though they should. So, be careful not to take job descriptions too literally. Sometimes, job descriptions can be boilerplate templates that just list every possible responsibility someone might have at their jobs. Other times, it’s a big list of “nice-to-haves” that epitomize the perfect candidate but aren’t actual expectations of what a hiring manager is looking for.

Occasionally, candidates will pass on applying for a job because there is a task listed that they have no experience with. Don’t assume you’re unqualified because of that. If the role feels like something you’re passionate about—with a few exceptions—be open and apply anyway. If during the interview process you learn it might not be the right fit, at least you were able to spend time practicing your interview skills and vetting different work environments. It’ll make you more proficient as a candidate—but you’ll never know unless you’re open to applying in the first place.

3. Be yourself during the interview

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward. But if you show up to an interview and only say things you think your hiring manager wants to hear, you’ll end up misrepresenting yourself. The hiring manager will think they hired a certain person, but in reality, they’ve hired someone different from who was pitched to them in the interview.

Even if you get the job by doing this, it’s going to cause trouble down the road. So, it’s very important to answer questions truthfully, even if it isn’t what the hiring manager wants to hear. If you find that you aren’t aligned with a hiring manager during your interview, trust your gut—you’ll save yourself from a job that you may end up hating. Be authentic and true to who you are.

4. Negotiate a salary that you’re going to be happy with

It’s never a good feeling to go into a job with buyer’s remorse—feeling like you should have asked for more money, feeling undervalued, etc. It just leads to more resentment over time. That’s why it’s important to know how to negotiate your salary. Maybe your hiring manager will say no. That’s not the worst thing that could happen!

The first step to negotiating a salary that will make you happy is to do research on what’s competitive for your industry, location, and company size. (Good news—if you live in the Portland Metro Area, we’ve got salary guides readily available for the Information Technology and Accounting/Finance sectors.) Afterward, do reflect on what you want out of your job. If you’re willing to take less than what you think you're worth because that job is a stepping stone, or helps you get your foot in the door of an important industry or work environment, then go for it! But always make sure you are negotiating a salary that you are willing to live with, and one that speaks to the value of what you are providing.


If you need help taking inventory of what makes you happy, or you just aren’t sure if your skillsets are a good match for what you’re interested in, consider working with a recruiter! We’re experts in the industry—and, we’re always advocates for our candidates. Recruiters can help take some of the burdens of job searching off of your shoulders and making finding a job you love a breeze.

Never worked with a recruiter before? Know what you’re getting into. Here are 4 qualities of a great recruiter.