How to Turn the Job You Have into the Job You Want

What do you do if you really need to stick it out in a job you don’t love? Practice job crafting, a concept researched by Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Yale School of Management. Wrzesniewski has spent years researching how people make meaning of their work and the experience of work as a job, career, or calling.

From her research, Wrzesniewski has found:

  • Individuals with a job orientation see work is a means to an end. They work primarily to financially support life outside of work and therefore look at their job like a basic necessity.
  • People who have a career orientation see their work as a stepping-stone to reach a higher-level goal often related to more success or prestige such as a raise or promotion.
  • Individuals who have a calling orientation view their work as one of the most important parts of their lives, and a vital part of their identity.

Wrzesniewski also found that those who fall into the “calling” category often see their work as more meaningful. Regardless of whether you fall into the job, career, or calling camp, you can practice what Wrzesniewski calls job crafting to help make your work more meaningful, too.

What is job crafting?

Job crafting consists of redesigning your work to make it more engaging and enjoyable. According to Wrzesniewski, you can craft your job by altering your tasks, relationships, and/or perspective.

Task crafting: You can alter the number, type, or nature of tasks you have to accomplish. What tasks you can let go of or delegate to others? What new tasks can you take on that you’d like to do more of? How can you utilize technology or partnerships to help you accomplish tasks in different ways?

An example: An advertising account manager who also enjoys writing takes on new copywriting projects.

Relational crafting: You can alter the nature or style of your interactions with other individuals. Who do you particularly enjoy working with? What types of relationships or interactions at work are meaningful to you?

An example: An engineer who loves mentoring spends a portion of her summer supporting the company’s summer intern program by speaking on panels and serving as a mentor to two interns.

Cognitive crafting: You can alter how you perceive individual tasks and their meaning, or the purpose of your work as a whole.

An example: A clinical trial assistant sees her role as critical to healing patients with breast cancer, as opposed to someone who is responsible for the day-to-day project management and overseeing of regulatory paperwork.

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Wrzesniewski’s research has shown that people who partake in job crafting tend to be more satisfied with their work, achieved higher levels of performance, and report greater personal resilience.

Now I’d love to hear from you! What steps do you plan to take to craft your tasks, relationships, or perception in order to make your work more meaningful?