February 24, 2017
Finding a job you love can be tricky. There's so much choice out there, and it can be difficult to decide where your passion lies. How can you know what's right for you?
So, with that in mind, we thought we’d have a deeper look into career development and pull together some advice for hardworking Millennials keen to make their mark. Who could we speak to to provide some great advice?
Susanna Halonen was the obvious choice. The tour de force behind Happyologist, is (unsurprisingly) a happiness coach and the author of Screw Finding Your Passion.
Susanna - thanks for taking the time to chat to us! Let’s talk about people who are just starting their careers, whether they’ve left uni or they’re entering the world of work after A-levels. How can people give themselves the best possible start when building their career?
Whatever you do, do it with your full heart. Show up and give everything to the job you've got, even if it's not your dream job. You will still learn, you will still grow, and by being reliable you will start to create a strong personal brand. It’s important that you always have great references and people to turn to as you move up the ladder!
There seems to be a growing trade-off between money and a work/life balance. Which do you think is more important, and why?
I believe that the more of a life you have, the happier you are, and as a result the more productive you are at work. When you are happy, you activate the learning centres in your brain and produce happy hormones, all of which enable you to use more of your brain's capacity. That means that you are more creative, more productive, more solution focused, find it easier to have positive relationships, and are more likely to engage in health-promoting behaviours.
Hence if you build a happy life outside work - and even at work - you'll be able to achieve more in less time.
Let’s just say that someone has a new job - their first - but they’re unsure of how it relates to their degree or their passions. Do you advise switching careers if people are unsure of their path, or should they stick with their chosen discipline - or use the degree they studied for?
Don't let the discipline or degree you've studied limit you if there is something else that interests you. You have unique skillsets, strengths and qualities, so think about what you can do with them. Don't worry about being 100% certain - as a human you will often doubt and second guess yourself.
Look at jobs that seem interesting and find out more about them by going to the interviews and asking the interviewers lots of questions. Take a job, experience it, see what feels good and what doesn't feel good. Then, with your next career step, you know more of what you want and more of what you don't want.
What, for you, are absolute deal-breakers in the workplace – and what are the warning signs people should look out for at interviews?
In my opinion, they are disrespect, dishonesty, and no desire to grow or change the status quo. Respect is a non-negotiable for me because if you don't have respect with how you treat each other or how the organisation treats you, you've got nothing. It's the foundation to everything. Honesty and trust goes hand in hand with this.
An interview that stuck with me for life was for an internship with a financial institution. I had a full day assessment with them and I was getting passed around between middle aged, grumpy men who were as friendly as a blank wall. They didn't look at me when I answered their questions, they patronised me when I talked about why I wanted to do the the job, and they told me to keep what I was passionate about to myself - even though they asked me about it. The experience not only put me off the company but the whole industry.
What made it even worse was that my brother, who worked in the industry at the time, said they do that on purpose with women interviewees to test their emotional stability. Brownie points all the way - they put me off for life. No respect, no honesty, and let's add sexist to the list.
That seems to make sense. What are the signs of a great office with a happy team?
There is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and people offer polite smiles or nods when you're getting the office tour. When you ask questions, they really listen to you and are eager to give you the information you want. People are chatting here and there, there is a space to have coffee or have a break, and not everyone is glued to their screens with noise blocking headphones on (OK - that's my personal opinion, but to me that gives a very antisocial vibe).
Maybe there is some colour and some plants, and you can see everyone has personalised their desks a little bit to make their environment cosy.
A great question to ask is about social gatherings - does the team go out for lunch every now and then, is there a weekly or monthly office breakfast, is there Friday happy hour? If the team does things together outside working hours, it's a good sign.
If someone starts a new job and is unhappy, what should they do? Give it time, or jump ship immediately as life’s too short?
Give yourself a minimum of six months in your new job. It takes time for you to get used to your responsibilities, your working environment, your colleague, and the new organisation you're working on. Just because something goes wrong the first month or your first impression isn't great doesn't mean you should immediately jump ship.
If, after six months, nothing has improved and you can't see yourself making it work, then it's time to make the switch. When you do, make sure you're clear about what you didn't like about your current job and what you did like about it, as these will help you find a job that is more fitting to what you want.
Do people need to recognise that they may need to make a trade-off in life? So, they might never be the editor of Vogue – but they could work as a content producer for a small fashion brand? Do people need to be realistic?
Realism is essential when you're planning your career and your next steps - but you need to dream to get excited and motivated about the future. Dreams shine light on what you actually want.
I always encourage my clients to start by imagining their dream scenario, and then work backwards from there. It's only when you know what your dreams are that you have direction and can create a path with purpose. Always aim high - and enjoy the journey.
What, in your opinion, makes Millennials most happy at work? What gives them real pleasure?
The media sometimes labels Millennials lazy, uncommitted and privileged. I disagree with this. Millennials have simply woken up to the fact that they do have more choice and opportunities than ever before, and they want to have a career that is aligned with who they are.
They want to feel connected to the work they do, to have purpose, to be offered opportunities for growth, and to have a life as well. They know they have skill sets to offer just like anyone else and they don't want to sell themselves short. They will work their backsides off in the right job when they are treated with respect and given the appreciation they deserve.
Your dream job isn't out there, waiting for you. It doesn't exist. It's a role you'll create yourself as long as you're prepared to work hard, turn up with a smile and focus on the roles you know will make you happy! There are plenty of opportunities out there for you to take advantage of - don't be scared of filling your boots and enjoying a varied, rich career!