On the list of the many things engineers consider when searching for employment or a new opportunity, happiness very rarely appears. They often pay close attention to the salary, title, type of projects, location,and size of company—which are all important factors—but I always wonder why happiness isn’t just as important.
I can make a strong argument that no matter how much money you make, what your title is, or how big the company is, if you aren’t happy, your engagement level in your job will be very low and it will be very dissatisfying. While some of these factors may certainly contribute to your happiness on the job, I recommend considering the following factors when job hunting to ensure you create an enjoyable engineering career experience:
Location is certainly important in regards to your happiness. If you hate cold weather but take a job in Alaska or North Dakota, odds are you will be anything but happy. Consider seeking employment in a geographic location that is appealing to your personal likes and goals.
As best you can, consider the type of people you will be working with in your new position and how you envision getting along with them. Bad workplace relationships are one of the most common reasons people are unhappy in the workplace. You can take this into account by spending some time talking with the employees when you go on an interview and also doing some research on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn company module allows you to see the employees who work for a certain company and have LinkedIn profiles. Make sure that you consider the relationship between you and your direct supervisor, as that is a critical relationship for your growth, engineering career development, and overall happiness.
Ensure that job you are seeking will allow you to do what you love to do. If you love working with people, seek out jobs where you will be part of a design team, not a job with a three-person firm where you will sit alone in a cubicle all day with little interaction. Or if you love working in the field, don’t take a job that offers only in-office opportunities. This is key to ensuring happiness on a daily basis in your engineering career.
When researching companies to work for, consider looking at companies which have won awards for “best places to work.” These companies typically treat their employees very well and offer many career development benefits. If a company hasn’t won an award, try talking to some of its employees to find out how they support their career development efforts.
When searching for your next engineering job, don’t just seek a high salary and benefits. Seek happiness.