What Do You Like and Hate About Your Current and Past Jobs? How Does This Help Your Job Search?


Figuring out what has worked and what has blocked you in your past work experiences can make a big difference in the success of your current or future job search. There’s so much about yourself that you can learn from previous experiences. What did you like about your favorite job? What was it exactly that drove you to look for a new one when you left your worst job? These indicators can lead you to a clear winner for future opportunities. Here’s how to think about things in a new light.

Tasks and Projects

First, think about what tasks and projects made you like or hate your job. Not everyone gets to do what they love every second of every day, but there’s a high likelihood that there are at least some aspects of your day to day life that are fulfilling to you professionally. Focus first on what you really like doing, what you’re skilled at and recognized for. Then look for roles that focus on those types of tasks and projects. If there is work that you particularly dislike, that’s a sign of what roles and opportunities that wouldn’t be a good fit for you. Once you know what roles benefit from your strengths and your enjoyment, then it becomes clear what jobs will be the best fit for you.

Emotional Fulfillment

What makes you happy at work? Is it the people you work with? The company? Your organization’s goals and mission aligning with your own personal goals and value? These are elements of emotional fulfillment that make a big difference at work. Don’t think that a paycheck at the end of the month will be enough to make you feel happy because any job you take will provide an income. But only a great job will make you feel happy and inspired to come to work every day. Alternatively, think about the times when you felt unfulfilled emotionally at work. Was it because of a bad work culture among employees? Did you not feel respected or valued for your efforts? Did the core mission of the company go against your personal values? That can turn a great job into a miserable one just based on an emotional mismatch. Keep these things in mind when looking for your next opportunity, because they can make a big difference.

Task/Mission Alignment

Something that doesn’t seem obvious but can have an equally large impact is alignment between your tasks and the company’s overall mission. Did you not like the tasks but liked the overall mission of a company? Does it seem like there is a misalignment between the two? Did you feel that your tasks were more of a direct reflection of your supervisor or managements’ goals rather than that of the broader company? While this isn’t always something you can identify in a job search, it does tell you about what is important to you as a job seeker. Figure out what matters to you and why, then tailor your job search to find the right job for you.  

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