One of the most important dimensions of job satisfaction is how you feel about your employer’s mission. Suppose you’re weighing two offers for jobs writing advertising copy: One is for an American Cancer Society campaign to discourage teenage smoking, the other for a tobacco industry campaign to encourage it.
If pay and other working conditions were identical, which job would you choose? I once posed this question to Cornell seniors about to enter the job market, and almost 90 percent said they would pick the American Cancer Society position. And when I asked them how much more the pro-tobacco job would have to pay before they would change their minds, they demanded an average salary premium of more than 80 percent.
These magnitudes make sense. When most people leave work each evening, they feel better if they have made the world better in some way, or at least haven’t made it worse.
But moral satisfaction alone won’t pay the rent.But moral satisfaction alone won’t pay the rent. You’ll be more likely to land a job that offers attractive working conditions and pays well if you can develop deep expertise at a task that people value highly. As the economist Philip Cook and I have argued, those who become really good at what they do are capturing a much larger share of total income in almost every domain, leaving correspondingly smaller shares available for others. Moral: Become an expert at something!
That’s obviously easier said than done. The psychologist K. Anders Ericsson and his co-authors have estimated that many thousands of hours of difficult practice are required for true expertise at any task. That’s why my first response when students seek advice on how to succeed is to ask whether any activity has ever absorbed them completely. Most answer affirmatively. I then suggest that they prepare themselves for a career that entails tasks as similar as possible to that activity, even if it doesn’t normally lead to high financial rewards. I tell them not to worry about the money.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at First Rule of the Job Hunt: Find Something You Love to Do – The New York Times