How to Find a Job That Gives You Purpose

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

careertrend article image
Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images

Some people want more out of work than a simple paycheck. If this sounds like you, perhaps a change in career is in order. Rather than finding the job that pays the most or comes with the largest dose of prestige, search out a job with purpose to fulfill your need to do more. The meaning of purpose is different for everyone, but the process used to find it is often the same.

What Is It

The most important part of finding a job with purpose is understanding yourself well enough to know what that purpose is. Make a list of what you hope to accomplish with your work and why. Research companies and organizations who have a similar goal and who seem to share your purpose. These are the places and careers you should consider first when beginning your search for employment. Remember there is often more than one way to accomplish a goal and finding the right blend of purpose and position is the ideal. If you don't know what you are really after, the odds are you'll never get there.

Search Criteria

In many cases the way you feel about what you do determines whether it provides you with a purpose or not. Believe it or not, the factor that drives most people in their careers really has very little bearing on happiness or purpose at all. A study performed by the University of Kent in Britain showed that money, while an initial goal for most people becomes less important the longer you remain in a given position. What ends up mattering more in the long run is the happiness of the worker based on matters of purpose like helping others and achieving long-term goals. Look for work that provides an opportunity to do more than make money and speaks to a greater ambition within you.

Break the Mold

Just because you have a job that pays the bills does not mean your search for a more purposeful career should not continue. Never settle for the easier way. Instead, try a bit of everything to find out what really makes you feel fulfilled, then do whatever it takes to pursue it. For example, while working try volunteering for causes that mean a lot to you. Do freelance work on the side that allows you to foray into new fields and find those things that really satisfy you. Rather than over think and over plan, just do. The only expenditure you make is the effort and time it takes to try things. When something clicks for you, you will know.


A change in philosophy may be required if you are to find the job that gives you purpose. While many people want a long and successful career in a given field, you may have to throw caution to the wind and take the initiative. There is no guarantee that your start in a new career will be easy or smooth, or that a transition to more meaningful work will be successful at all. Having the courage to start again from the bottom for a purpose you are passionate about is the only real way to get there.

Your Current Job

Try to find purpose in your current role if you are unwilling or unable to cut ties at the moment. Embrace your role more closely and take command of what you do and don't do at work. For example, if you were hired as a marketing consultant but have a passion for the creative aspect of advertising, lean more heavily in that direction when signing up for projects or discussing workplace issues. Use the control you do have to decide what you do and why, and don't relinquish command to bosses who leave you no say in your own career. Taking charge, even in a small way can make the difference between your, job and a job with purpose.