Career Fulfillment: Factors to Consider

job seeker


Career Fulfillment: Factors to Consider

Let’s talk about career fulfillment. Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!

I once worked in an office with several people who shared my job title. We were tasked with advising college students, offering future career guidance, and aiding in course and program selection. During onboarding, I was asked to observe each employee in the office to help me learn the ropes and to teach me various ways of accomplishing the same task.

Cross-training and observation did help me learn how to perform my job well. But it also provided me with valuable insight into career fulfillment. The first woman I observed worked in a helter-skelter manner, seemed highly unorganized, and spent much longer than necessary helping each student. However, she almost always smiled, she never forgot students’ names or details of their lives, and she was willing to stay late or skip lunch occasionally to help last-minute arrivals. She never gossiped about students after they left either. 

In comparison, I also observed a person whose office was immaculate, who kept each appointment running smoothly, and who rarely made mistakes. However, he also seldom smiled. He couldn’t recall the students he saw the day before if asked about them the next morning. He never asked students about long-term career plans; he simply did his job, helped them register for classes, and politely dismissed them. Whether asked or not, he regularly divulged lots of opinions about “problem students.”

What was the difference? Career fulfillment. The first employee found great satisfaction in her work every day. The second did not. 

As a job seeker, I’m sure you don’t want to feel discontent at work. No one graduates from college, diploma in hand, determined to land a mediocre, decent job. We graduate and hope to succeed, to thrive, to make a difference, to grow. 

professionals at work

How do you ensure career fulfillment? Which steps can you take to increase the likelihood of finding a job conducive to growth, meaning, and satisfaction?

Factors to Consider for Greater Career Fulfillment

When thinking about your career, several aspects will help you determine your best path. 

1. Assessment

Before you can pursue career fulfillment, you need to define it for yourself. Each job seeker defines career fulfillment differently. Keep in mind career fulfillment is not synonymous with career success.

Determine what matters most to YOU in your job search and, ultimately, your career journey. Do you care primarily about making a significant difference in others’ lives? You may care less about salary, benefits, and recognition. Are you concerned with feeling like you’re part of a team and want to work alongside others who share your purpose? Culture and values will be high on your priority list, but maybe you’ll give less weight to professional growth. 

It’s okay to want it all, too. Some things you may desire in a job:

  • One that pays very well 
  • Excellent benefits 
  • Opportunities for professional growth
  • Work-life balance 
  • Support and recognition
  • Inclusive culture with strong workplace values 

Keep in mind that the more selective you are, and the more boxes you seek to check in your job search, the longer you may need to spend to find the right fit. 

Take stock of who you are. Take some assessments online, including skill, interest, and workplace style surveys and assessments.

work space

These can offer insight into which direction you should go to find greater career fulfillment.

2. Growth

Even once you have found a great job, seeking professional growth increases your chances of feeling fulfilled. When you look for more training opportunities, further your education, and keep an open, teachable mind, you become a better version of yourself. You build your resume. You become more effective and productive. These characteristics garner attention from colleagues and supervisors, and make you a more marketable candidate in your job search, too. 

Don’t be afraid to take a stab at new tasks, collaborate with others on projects, or sign up to chair a committee. Instead of viewing these things as threats and potential pitfalls, consider them as opportunities for growth. 

Even if you are the quietest team member, participating still improves your collaboration skills and teaches you about others’ job roles. The only failure in your career journey is the failure to keep moving forward.

3. Mentorship

If you don’t already have a strong mentor, get one! There are so many reasons that working with a mentor — even periodically — can help you find greater career fulfillment.

A career mentor helps you set and realize your career goals, serves as a catalyst for growth, connects you to other great people (including employers, sometimes), introduces you to cool resources, and offers free, objective career advice.

Why wouldn’t you want a mentor?


Many of us feel afraid to share much of ourselves with others, especially our hopes, dreams, and fears. Thus, finding a mentor you trust is crucial. Look for a mentor whose interests, values, and goals align with yours, but someone who’s further along in her career journey than you are. Ask someone to mentor you whose lifestyle and accomplishments you truly respect.

Try to schedule regular times to touch base with your mentor, even if you’re not actively seeking a new job. Keeping in touch and building your relationship over monthly coffee or quarterly Zoom sessions is a great way to guarantee you’ll feel comfortable reaching out when you face a career crisis or need last-minute help.

4. Job Search

Lastly, if you’re not feeling fulfilled in your career journey, do something about it.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Advocate for yourself. Talk to your mentor about it. Request a meeting with your supervisor to ask about promotion. It’s a good idea to try to make your current job situation work. But recognize it’s not always possible to stay where you are if you want to grow. 

finding a job

Consider launching a job search. Utilize online resources to research companies and job roles to determine whether they’re a match for you. If you feel comfortable sharing, tell people you’re looking for a job because 85% of jobs are landed via networking. Polish up your resume and cover letter, update social media profiles, and start applying for matching job roles. 

Throughout your job search, keep career fulfillment in your mind. It’s tempting to accept a job offer that only matches half your job search and career fulfillment criteria. But if you take your time and stick to your priority list, you’ll find greater career fulfillment — and success — in the end.

Bethany Wallace
Bethany Wallace
Bethany Wallace partners with mission-minded organizations to build better workplaces through soft skills solutions. Bethany aids leaders in strengthening workplace relationships through communications consulting, training, executive coaching, keynote presentations, & career coaching. Bethany enjoys presenting research at conferences and contributes regularly to major publications & recognized podcasts, including Glassdoor, College Recruiter, Zip Recruiter, Jobscan, FlexJobs, the New York Daily News, BusinessTech, Human Resources Online, Life After Teaching, Love Your Story, The Conversation Guy (10 Minute Mindset), Everyday People Podcast, The Success Chronicles, and more.

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