Humans are awful at predicting how much they’ll like something in the future, research has shown this. Maybe that’s why people sometimes are constantly searching for the next best thing or the elusive “dream job.”

Changing jobs often has become the norm in today’s working culture. According to a survey of 4,000 Canadians by job resource website Workopolis, 44 percent of respondents held more than five jobs in their career, with one in three saying they changed career paths after discovering a new field they felt passionate about.

Which suggests asking yourself: Should you search for your dream job, or a role that fits with your values as part of a wider career mosaic? If Workopolis’ research — that the average Canadian spends 2.7 years at a job — is an indicator, finding a role that not only fits your values, but that also motivates you and helps you advance your skill set, may be a more rewarding way to build your career.

So how do you do that? Here are some questions to help find a role to build your career:

What skills do I want to build?

There’s no shortage of singers who despise sining their most popular songs. Madonna, Radiohead and Led Zeppelin have all said they no longer enjoy performing songs that helped made them stars. And yet they feel they have to sing them at every concert. The moral: don’t strive to become expert at a skill or task you can’t imagine yourself doing for life. Instead, decide what you’d like to be good at and find a job that can help you build that skill.

Consider the skills you learned in past roles. Were they the skills you expected to build or take away? Did they give you some new insight? Did they challenge you to improve or change the way you approached your work? Understanding these skills, and being able to articulate them to a potential employer (with specific examples of projects or anecdotes from past workplaces), can even help you get a job you may not seem qualified for through your traditional work experience.

This may be especially true in an evolving workplace.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, by 2020, one-third of the skills considered important within today’s workforce will have changed.

“Overall, social skills— such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control,” write the report’s authors. “In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.”

Consider the types of roles businesses will require in the future and ask yourself: what skills do I have and what skills do I want to build?

What motivates you?

In the book Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence, authors Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins stress the importance of choosing a role that fits your motivation.

According to Halvorson and Higgins, there are two types of motivation that drive achievement: Promotion-focused, which is characterized by ambitious risk takers who seek gain, and prevention-focused, people who are careful, value security and fear loss.

If you’re promotion-focused, seek out a role that inspires creativity and innovation; one that drives you to embrace risk, to pursue projects with quick turnarounds and deadlines, and use abstract thinking to tackle challenges. Younger start-ups and medium size companies in a growth phase tend to have a more entrepreneurial edge, one that might be well-suited for promotion-motivated individuals. Jobs that require idea generation — marketing, media, publicity, design — and strategy development for multiple projects (i.e. sales) may make good fits.

For those motivated by prevention, consider roles requiring thoroughness and attention to detail, planning and accuracy, reliability and strong problem-solving skills. More established firms offering structure and long-term projects that allow you to work at your own pace may be well-suited for prevention-focused people. Jobs like data science, accounting, legal services and traditional roles in the financial sphere might suit these individuals.

What workplace culture will inspire you most?

With your motivations in mind, try perusing job sites like LinkedIn, GlassDoor and Payscale to see what jobs are available. In addition to postings and salaries, some of these sites have employee testimonials. Seek out those companies on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat; see what they post, how they engage with employees, and how they approach workplace culture.

Read firsthand accounts from employees and watch talks or panel discussions with the company’s leadership team to help understand their style of communication. Consider what’s important to you: A culture that promotes professional development, work-life balance, or tele-commuting? How important is office design when it comes to inspiring how you work? What kind of interaction is there between employees and managers? And how do you work most efficiently (within a group or alone)?

Knowing the role you want work to play in your life can inform the types of jobs you look for as well as the sorts of things to ask potential employers during an interview.

Time to job hunt

Knowing what skills you want to build, what motivates and drives you, and the type of workplace that will inspire you before you start applying can save you time and frustration. Taking the time to examine how a potential job may fit into your desired career skills can help you feel more confident in interviews, know the kinds of questions to ask potential employers, and above all, help you find a rewarding job that helps you grow personally and professionally.

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