The ideal job is the one that makes you happiest and most fulfilled, while paying you enough to live comfortably. And while those qualities differ from individual to individual, certain characteristics of an ideal job are common among American workers. Pay usually ranks pretty high on most peoples’ list of ideal jobs, but others commonly identified include flexibility, opportunity, meaning and security.
Making a Difference
The ideal job leaves you feeling good about yourself at the end of the day. Whether you are helping people directly or creating a product or service that ultimately makes peoples’ lives better, you will enjoy your work and believe that you make a difference in the world. Meaning and purpose can come from sharing a sense of community with your co-workers. Meaningful relationships at work also can create an environment that employees consider ideal.
Flexibility and Challenge
The ideal job challenges you so that you feel as if you are growing and learning. Challenges may be anything from closing a big sale to resolving customer problems or finding a cure for a disease. The challenges should be combined with flexibility both in how you reach your goals and when and where you work. Being allowed to telecommute, having control over working hours and being able to balance work and home life create the ideal work environment for a large segment of workers, according to "U.S. News and World Report."
The ideal job is one where you can be fairly secure, knowing it will be there tomorrow. Wondering how long your company will be in business can be stressful and take the joy out of even the most meaningful and challenging job. Security is a particularly important characteristic of the ideal job for middle managers and front-line workers who need a steady paycheck, unlike executives who may be able to rely on other resources to pay the bills, according to the North Star Leadership Group.
Opportunities for Advancement
For many workers, the opportunity to earn more, advance within a company and have more control over their destinies define the ideal job. Looking toward the future with no end to the tedium of your current situation can be demotivating and numbing. The need for opportunities and control is one of the reasons that entrepreneurship is the ideal job for many people. Professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, foresee more opportunities in their lines of work and enjoy greater autonomy to define their prospects. Workers with options for advancement report they have the ideal job in greater numbers than service workers in dead-end jobs.