THE BLOG
10/17/2013 12:10 pm ET Updated Dec 14, 2013

Why You Can't Find a Job You Love

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Do you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself: "Am I in the right job?" "At the right company?" "On the right career path?" "Doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life?" If so, you are not alone.

After almost a decade of research, Tempe, Arizona, based "purpose" firm Ignite reports that more than 95% of workers in the U.S. are in the wrong roles. In another study by the company, 1,916 randomly selected employees between the ages of 23 and 28 were asked if they were interested in changing jobs, and 1,571 said yes. A recent Gallup study concluded that 70% of American workers are not engaged at their jobs. And Deloitte's Shift Index survey indicates that 80% of workers don't like their jobs.

Considering that the average American works 8.8 hours every day, not many people are jumping out of bed these days.

So, why can't people find jobs they love?

Bad Marriages

When searching for a life partner, people often create fantasies around someone they are attracted to. This is all part of a human tendency to romanticize the world -- something that usually ends badly when each sees the other for who they really are. A consultant I worked with for many years would say, "When couples break up, arguing that their partner does not understand them, the exact opposite is true: They understand them -- they simply do not like them." And the same human tendency towards fantasy partners that helps explain the 50% divorce rate for first marriages in the U.S. also goes a long way toward telling us why American workers have an almost total lack of job happiness.

When people are looking for jobs, they scan the web for "attractive" companies that grab their immediate attention. They look at a company's career page for openings, read the job descriptions posted and then redraft their resume and pitch to fit the role they think they want. They recreate themselves to another's specifications. From the outside, we can easily see how this could end badly. The company is pitching its most attractive side -- whether real or perceived -- and the candidate is tailoring who he or she is to meet the needs of the company. Six months down the road, both sides are unhappy. Some of the relationships limp along for years producing minimal value; others end abruptly, causing disruption and financial strain for both parties.

The Right Match

In 2000, the online dating site eHarmony was launched with the tag line "Beat the odds, Bet on Love with eHarmony." It pioneered a new scientific approach to matching couples that relied on pre-assessments to gain a deep understanding of its clients and compatibilities before any pictures or profiles were shared. It was a concept that changed relationship matching forever and improved chances of successful dating, marriage and fulfilled long-term partnerships.

In such a process there is no gaming the system -- no imagined personas -- because neither side knows of the other until a personal match is made. This same concept will ultimately revolutionize job search and placement for the next generation workforce that is looking for purpose over "work."

Arizona-based Y Scouts is the only recruitment firm I am aware of that operates a model similar to eHarmony's, but they currently only handle executive searches. However, the dating site is contemplating offering a non-executive job search option soon. Until then, job seekers will need to be proactive and create their own process. To do this, you should have the answers to the following questions prior to starting your search and stay true to them when you are looking to apply to jobs. If you are working with a recruitment agency, share your questions and answers with them before they introduce roles to you. Ask them to only connect you to organizations and jobs that are a clear fit.

  • What job would I be excited to share with others?
  • What would an organization do that would make me excited to share with others?
  • What gets me out of bed in the morning?
  • If money weren't an issue, what would I do?
  • What do I do best?
  • What am I most passionate about?
  • What am I most curious about?
  • What have I most enjoyed doing throughout my life and why?

If you are having problems answering any of these questions, below are a few resources to help.

Dr. Paula Caligiuri's book Get a Life, Not a Job: Do What You Love and Let Your Talents Work For You has excellent personal discovery exercises throughout.

Clifton StrengthsFinder tool will assist you in discovering what you do best.

Ignite's online course will help you discover your passionate curiosity and bring your purpose to light. The company also offers private purpose coaching.

Y Scouts' website is a good resource to help you discover your "Why?" and also has a free purpose-based Talent Community that anyone can join.

On my website at www.LouisEfron.com I have listed several books, articles, videos and tools that will hopefully be helpful to you too.