From workplace bullying to conscious bias, there are plenty of things that can get in the way of experiencing job satisfaction for women attorneys of color. However, this doesn’t mean that unfavorable treatment has to prevent you from finding satisfaction with your career. Here are seven things women of color attorneys can do to create job satisfaction.
1. Determine your personal requirements for job satisfaction.
For many women of color attorneys, practicing law can be prestigious and lucrative. This is especially true if you work for a global corporation or an international law firm.
While money and prestige come with obvious perks, they don’t necessarily lead to job satisfaction. Depending on what motivates you, these external drivers may not be enough to keep you satisfied with your career.
According to a recent report by Positive Psychology, there are a few key ingredients that contribute to job satisfaction. These include open communication, a sense of belonging, sound leadership, challenging opportunities, career growth, constructive feedback, pay/benefits and rewards/recognition.
Job satisfaction is a personal pursuit. The key ingredients that motivate one attorney may not motivate another. That’s why you must determine what makes you happy at work and align yourself with those things.
Here are a few online career assessment tools to get started.
- Young Lawyers Career Satisfaction Survey
- Harvard Law School Self-Assessment Questions
- SHRM Employee Satisfaction Survey
2. Plant yourself in the right soil.
You can never be satisfied with your job if you aren’t in an environment that utilizes your skills, respects your unique background and challenges you to become a better attorney. Even if you work at the most prestigious organization in the world, if it’s not a right fit, you will be unfulfilled.
The following questions can help you determine if you’re in the right environment.
- Do you feel like you’re making an impact?
- Is the work challenging for you?
- Can you envision yourself advancing within the company to leadership roles?
- Do the company’s values align with yours?
- How motivated are you to go to work each day?
- Does your work feel like drudgery?
- Do you often feel “off” at work but don’t know why?
- Are you bored with the people, company or the work itself?
Satisfied employees perform work that is aligned with their personal goals and the company’s priorities. Overall, they are energized, engaged and fulfilled in their roles.
3. Build supportive work relationships.
If you’re not intentional about collaborating with others, practicing law can be a lonely pursuit. That’s why it is essential to collaborate with your colleagues as much as possible.
By building supportive work relationships, you can get other people’s perspectives on different issues. Collaboration increases camaraderie and a commitment to your work.
4. Learn and master new skills.
Over time, working on the same types of projects and cases can lead to boredom. You have to stretch yourself even if it means working outside your comfort zone.
Embrace opportunities to work on stretch assignments. Take the lead on projects whenever possible. Master your communication skills so you can be invited to present at industry conferences. Enroll in courses that can enhance your career.
5. Take on pro bono work.
Pro bono work gives you the opportunity to help people in desperate need of your legal services. It can also help you gain experience in practice areas that may not be familiar to you.
Other benefits of taking on pro bono work include:
- Create relationships with attorneys in different industries or law firms.
- Develop new business opportunities.
- Get a sense of fulfillment when you help others without expecting anything in return.
- Empower clients and give them hope in dire situations.
6. Create a work environment that increases your capacity for happiness.
Whether you’re working from home or the office, your environment must be conducive to productivity. A comfortable workplace can eliminate disruptions and small annoyances that can hinder your performance.
Minor changes that you can make to your office are:
- Include lively colors in your office décor.
- Put a few plants in your office.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair, treadmill desk and/or a standing desk.
- Open the windows to let fresh air into your space.
- Personalize your office with family pictures and/or art.
7. Take control of your career.
When it comes to carving out a successful career, we’ve been sold a bill of goods. The common misconception is doing good work and following all the rules will lead to promotions and accolades without additional effort.
We’ve also been taught that if you wait long enough, other people will take notice. As a result, your career will soar. This is simply not true. If you want remarkable things to happen in your career, you must make them happen.
Here’s how to take control of your career.
- Get clear about what you want for your career.
- Take on projects that increase your visibility.
- Write articles for publications in your industry.
- Start a podcast or networking group.
- Proactively go after what you want instead of passively waiting for it.
- Show up for yourself as much as you show up for others.
Satisfaction is the difference between having a job and having a career. Make incremental changes and apply these tips to create the job satisfaction that you desire.
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