According to the Society of Human Resources Management 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey, employees are more satisfied when they have regular opportunities to utilize their skills at work. In fact, 63% of respondents put "skill utilization" at the top of their list for job satisfaction over compensation and pay. Project ownership, organizational contribution and work creativity have always been important factors in helping people feel happy at work, but using strengths and skills is at the top. If you’re in a position where your skills are not being fully utilized in a way that leads to job satisfaction, there are several approaches to find professional fulfillment.
Put Your Skills to Work. Find ways to demonstrate how you can positively impact your team and organization by putting your skills to work in different ways. Take on a new project, job share or develop creative challenges that would allow you to implement your skill set and demonstrate your capabilities. Look for opportunities to help others or improve processes that are tired, or in need of your unique capabilities. This is easier than you think. Most success-minded professionals are eager to collaborate and formulate strategic partnerships or welcome new insight. The key is in your approach. Offering to help and honestly sharing your eagerness to grow goes a lot further than takeover tactics.
Volunteer or Moonlight. I have a client who is content simply to implement her peak skills and strengths off the job. Now this isn’t to say she is not using them at work, just in a different way, and in her words “doesn’t fully tap her potential.” When she’s away from her steady paycheck, she finds fulfillment in doing what comes naturally to her. In fact, she’s already courting offers that would allow her to finally quit her day job.
Explore a Better Fit. In some instances, the only way to really use your skills and strengths is to find a better fit for your expertise. If you’ve tried everything to change your current position with little buy-in or success, it might be time to leave. Check both inside and outside your organization for opportunities and definitely start your search before you resign. But for you take any leaps, thoughtfully and honestly consider whether you have exhausted your efforts for change in your current career. If avoiding having a heart-to-heart with your supervisor is the only thing holding you back from career success, then it’s time to step up to the plate.
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