Job satisfaction! That elusive feeling is sort of like shopping for the perfect "little black dress:" You aren't sure what you're looking for but you'll know it when you see it!

There are four sets of needs that, depending on how well you feel they are being met, determine how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with your current job. Note: while some needs are directly job-related, others are related to your overall career choice. This is an important distinction to keep top of mind so you really understand why you are considering a job change.

Take a close look at the inverted pyramid below and become familiar with the work-related needs in each of the four sections. They are the ones most frequently cited as driving job satisfaction.

Then take the brief “tests” for each set of needs. The results will help clarify where your needs lie and ensure you make a decision based on the right reasons.

The Job Satisfaction Pyramid

Job-related satisfaction or unrest relates to whether or not you are getting what you perceive as needed and deserved from your particular organization or company and does not necessarily signal unrest with your career field itself.

1.__________I have impact and control on most decisions affecting my job.
2.__________My boss provides adequate support for my job.
3.__________I like the physical setting of my job.
4.__________I like the hours I work.
5.__________I like the people with whom I work.
6.__________I am paid on a level equal to my responsibilities.
7.__________My team, peers and superiors appreciate and respect my work.
8.__________My company treats people fairly and ethically.
9.__________I communicate well with my team and senior management.
10.__________Senior management has reasonable expectations and goals.
__________Total for Job Related Satisfaction or Unrest

If your most significant level of dissatisfaction is job-related, you have the best opportunity to remedy your issues without making a major change.

Organization/Industry-related satisfaction or unrest is related to today's constant change that can exist within certain career fields, industries and organizations.

1.__________I can see myself in this career ten years from now.
2.__________I feel I have creative control over my career.
3.__________I can deal effectively with change and uncertainty.
4.__________My career field has more opportunities than in the past.
5.__________My industry is stable and I can count on keeping a good job.
6.__________I have opportunities for growth and learning in my organization.
7.__________I am aware of my options and have an alternate career plan.
8.__________I can get what I need to achieve my career goals.
9.__________I am aware of the changes and trends that can affect my career.
10.__________I know the steps to take to keep my career on track.
__________Total for Organization/Industry Related Satisfaction or Unrest

If your most significant level of dissatisfaction is organization or industry-related, you have less opportunity to influence a remedy for your issues.

Career content-related satisfaction or unrest is determined by how well your skills and/or personality match the daily tasks and specific activities you perform on your job. (A brief description of three kinds of skills - technical, functional and adaptive - needed for a good fit between a woman and her job follows. Scan through them before completing the "test".)

  • Technical skills are acquired skills, the special knowledge skills and information we learn in order to accomplish specific tasks in a particular career or occupation and frequently require formal training, certification or licensing. Technical skills make up about 10% of skills important in making a career change.

  • Functional skills are those most needed for long-term success and satisfaction on the job, and those most critical for a successful career change. They are innate instinctive skills, the way we function probably as a result of nature and nurture. They flow naturally from us and are what we have a knack for doing well. They are transferable skills and remain with us throughout our lives. They claim at least 60% of the importance in making a career change.

    SynthesizingInnovatingEmpathizingPrecision working
    CategorizingProblem solvingTeachingInspecting

  • Adaptive or self-management skills, our personality or temperament traits are the adjectives that describe us, our temperaments and personalities. These skills were acquired early, genetically, and/or learned from family, schools and culture in order to adapt and deal with the world. They are the skills that create the chemistry between people and their jobs. Usually, they remain with us unless changed by therapy. A partial list of these adjectives that describe us appears below. Adaptive skills account for 30% of career change decisions.


1.__________I like the type of work I do.
2.__________I like the physical setting of my job.
3.__________My talents are well utilized in my job.
4.__________I enjoy my everyday duties and activities.
5.__________I feel that my personality matches my career.
6.__________My work is building skills I enjoy using.
7.__________My interests relate directly to my job.
8.__________I am using creativity and self-expression at work.
9.__________I feel successful and rewarded in the work I do.
10.__________I feel I am in the right career field.
11.__________I feel I am in the right career field.
__________Total for Career Content Satisfaction or Unrest

If your dissatisfaction is predominately career content related, consider making a job change rather than making a major career change.

Career-related self satisfaction or unrest is a generalized sense of well-being or dissatisfaction related to one’s work and is directly related to whether and how well inner needs are being met. It is a questioning of meaning, value and the connection of one’s work to a worthwhile purpose, and as such, is tied strongly to our deep value belief system of what is worthy and ethical.

1.__________My career provides meaning and value to my life.
2.__________My career selection was based on my own aspirations and needs
3.__________I have a focused future image and strategic plan for achieving it.
4.__________I am learning new skills that I enjoy using.
5.__________My work achievements are meeting my expectations.
6.__________My work is building skills I enjoy using.
7.__________My work and my personal life are well balanced.
8.__________I enjoy gaining new insight into my career field.
9.__________I keep abreast of developments in other career fields.
10.__________My work makes an important contribution to others.
11.__________I am growing personally and professionally.
__________Total for Career Self Satisfaction or Unrest

If your dissatisfaction is primarily career self-related, you may be on a career path that is out of sync with your core values and needs.

Don't Take Unmet Needs With You
To a New Job

Job satisfaction will remain elusive if you make a change for the wrong reasons - for instance, if your dissatisfaction is related to your career choice and not your particular job. If this happens, you'll just take the same set of unmet needs with you to a new job when all you really needed to do was to "fix" one or two things where you are.

By the way, if you have been laid off, taking these tests will help you zero in on a new job that will be satisfying for you.