4 exercises to figure out what job you really want

4 exercises to figure out what job you really want

When you’re looking for a job, what do you usually do? What’s your process? Do you just go online, put in a broad search term like ‘project management’ in ‘Singapore’ and hit go?

If yes, well that’s probably what most people do. How’s your success rate been with that? Did you find a lot of opportunities? More importantly did you find the right opportunities? Has it helped you find the ideal job before?

No? Don’t worry, it hasn’t really worked for most of us. Maybe it’s time to try something else?

One of the main reasons this strategy isn’t working is because we often don’t really know what we’re looking for and because different roles often fall under the same titles or vice versa. So, anything or nothing seems to hit the mark.

Get over this job hunting hurdle and become more effective in your job search using these 3 exercises to really figure out what you want and by learning how to define your Happy Job.

Thanks to our methodology, 97% of our clients have landed not just a job, but their Happy Job in just 3 months – even when they needed an EP. If it works for them, it can work for you. Give it a go.  

1.    If you don’t know what you want, how can you find it? 

Finding a job isn’t the easiest task. So why not make sure the job you find is the right one for you, i.e. your Happy Job, the job that will make you succeed and be happy now and in the future?

For this exercise, you will need to answer a range of questions. So, get a pen and paper, get comfortable and be prepared to dive deep. Afterwards, you should have a better idea of what job you should be looking for and which companies you should be considering.

Key to succeeding in a job is to play to your strengths. Agree?  

To find your inner talents, ask yourself these questions, writing down your answers:

  • When was the last time you felt like time is flying by at work?
  • What were you doing at that time?
  • What do your superiors praise or recognize you for?

But being good at your job doesn’t always guarantee happiness. Right? The job you do also has to cover your needs and make you feel valued. 

With that in mind, let’s turn to the next questions to discern your needs and values:

  • What makes you feel recognized at work?
  • What would be your top key incentives in a job? List them by level of importance.

To avoid changing jobs constantly, isn’t it better to join an organization that supports your long-term goals?

Finally, let’s explore your vision of your Happy Job. Answer these 2 questions: 

  • What does success mean to you?
  • How would you know you are in your Happy Job?

Once you have written down all the answers, spend some time analysing them. Is there something that stands out? Maybe some things come up more than once and seem related with each other in some way? Zero in on these points and start crafting your Personal Happy Job Definition.

Sound a bit abstract?  Click here to read about a real-life example to make it more concrete.

Once you feel happy with your definition, proceed to the next exercise.

2.    Gaining clarity to give direction to your job hunt

For this exercise, we’ll start with defining the core of your Happy Job. So, grab your pen and paper again and answer this question:

  • What tasks would you like to be doing in your Happy Job and how much time would you like allocate to them?

At this stage, you shouldn’t care whether these scenarios are realistic or not. Let go! Dream of the possibilities! In doing this, our clients find it useful to brainstorm what they would like to do, then what they don’t like to do and finally what they don’t mind doing. Following this approach, you should have quite a comprehensive list.

From here, focus on your preferred tasks, the ones you’d like to do, and try to group them per activity. Finally, add the percentage of time you’d like to allocate to each group in your Happy Job. Thereafter, you should have a new perspective of what the contents should be of your next job, which will help you identify which titles you should look out for in your search.

Still not clear? For many the challenge here is to look beyond the functions under which they could be grouping activities. So, they typically group tasks in pre-defined categories they’re used to and get stuck. Instead of following this routine, try to see the similarities between the tasks you enjoy under the different functions. This will paint a completely different picture.

For an example of how this works in practice, read about *Alicia’s story here.

Finally, from this analysis, brainstorm the different job titles that may correspond to the type of role you’re looking for. Write them down and keep them safe for exercise 3 and 4.   

3.    Making sure you go into your next job with both eyes open to avoid disappointment

Time for a reality check. Before heading into the job search, we always encourage our clients to validate their expectations to make sure their Happy Job actually exists and is indeed in line with their needs, values, visions and interests. At this stage, we apply the “reality lens”. After all, sometimes the dream is far removed from reality.

To do this, think about all those job titles you brainstormed earlier. Do you know anyone working in these areas?  Why not arrange a meet-up and learn from their first-hand experience of being in your Happy Job? Speaking to them will give you the chance to cover all your bases and dig into whether your Happy Job will cover your needs (be it money, work-life balance etc.), your values (how you are recognised for your work), vision (your definition of success) and interests. Make sure your Happy Job is really what you imagine it to be and whether you are prepared to put in the effort to get there.

Speaking to others, learning from their experiences saves you time and ensures that your next job truly matches up with what you want out of life.

4.    Strategize your job search

Now that you’re clear about your desired career path and job, it’s time to check what industries and companies suit you best. Revisit your answers from part 1 and look again at how you defined your needs, values and vision. Ask yourself ‘where can I find this?’ and start to explore this from all angles.

Make sure to really think this through, because, even when you’re in a good or bad job, depending on the industry or company, you can still have a good or bad experience. For example, if finishing work by 6 PM is the most important aspect for you, perhaps joining one of the Big 4 is not the best option for you. Similarly, if you like structure and stability, joining a start-up may not be ideal for you; neither would joining a bank when your main motivator is to fight climate change. Clearly, it’s not all about the job.

So, narrow down the options and focus your job search even further through this process. You can even create categories of interest. For instance, option 1 could be to work at a start-up that allows you to finish work by 6 PM and fights climate change. Based on this, search for organizations that match your perceived needs, values and vision. Do they exist? If yes, go ahead! If not, open-up your search by thinking about which of the aspects could perhaps take the back-seat in terms of importance and try again. Read about *Anika’s story to see how this works in practice


After completing these 4 exercises, you should have started to get a better picture of what you really want out of your career. All of this pre-work will not only be beneficial to you in terms of helping you to become more effective in your job search. It will also help you build a more compelling CV and cover letter, because you will know exactly how your inner-talents match the role’s requirements and how your needs, values and vision align with the company, making it easy to demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the role – and the organization.

Struggling to complete this on your own? Give us a shout and book your first free consultation with one of our Happy Mondays consultants. Click here to book now.

*Names have been changed for the purpose of this article.