Mendoza School of Business

The social science guide to picking a career you’ll love

Published: December 31, 2014 / Author: Jess Whittlestone and William MacAskill

What the best scientific research tells us is that we often look for the wrong things in job searches: what we think will make us happy at work is very different from what will actually make us happy. It’s little wonder, then, that over half of Americans are unhappy with their jobs.

So here’s a summary of what really does and doesn’t matter for job satisfaction, according to the evidence.

1) Don’t worry too much about the salary

Research suggests that obsessing over your paycheck is misguided: a meta-analysis of around 100 studies found that there’s only a very weak relationship between pay and job satisfaction.

The evidence on how money affects happiness in general is mixed. The richest Americans tend to be happier than the average American, but large changes in income — like winning the lottery — don’t affect people’s’ life satisfaction long-term.

Moreover, focusing too much on pay distracts your attention from other important factors. Timothy Judge, professor of management at The University of Notre Dame, suggests that if you ultimately care about having a job that’s satisfying, “you would be better off weighing other job attributes higher than pay.”

Read the entire story on the Vox website.