This Is More Important Than a Perfect Career Fit

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There's a lot of pressure out in the world to find the perfect profession. Every step up, every opportunity, and every connection has to be maintained, planned out, and pursued with singular focus. At the end might come great fulfillment — unless you fail, in which case, you're destined for burnout and resentment.


All that is a pretty black-and-white view of working life, according to the experts. It's one reason why psychologists at the University of Houston have just released a study on the most important components of job and career satisfaction. If you've ever taken an occupational assessment test or just wondered if you'd be better suited to another industry or role in general, there's good news: Your job actually doesn't matter as much as your workplace.

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"Our main finding was that interest fit significantly predicts satisfaction, but it's not as strong of a relation as people expect," said lead author Kevin Hoff. "Other things that lead to satisfaction include the organization you work for, your supervisor, colleagues, and pay."


The research has some subtler points. For one, being interested in your job leads to being slightly more satisfied with your work, but the biggest factor that leads to rewards for your job (promotions, etc.) is internal — e.g., what your teams and supervisors think of your work.

"As long as it's something you don't hate doing, you may find yourself very satisfied if you have a good supervisor, like your coworkers, and are treated fairly by your organization," said Hoff. That might feel like lightning in a bottle, but it can also open up great possibilities you never saw coming.