THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Online dating: What it reveals about your job

Even when most people have control of their time and their workload, they still report that they're unhappy in their jobs, according to the Harvard Business Review, which noted a steady decline in job satisfaction, regardless of the employment rate.

People would be a lot happier with their job if they were happier with themselves outside their job. So the key to being happy at work is not so much finding the perfect career as it is finding yourself. The more self-knowledge, the happier you will be.

A career is like a mate. The relationship is limited by what you bring to the table. If you're not happy with yourself, you won't be happy with the match-up.

What do you do when you're alone? How do you feel about yourself? What are your core values, and do you lead your life according to them each day? Do you numb yourself with food or TV or alcohol? It's very hard to be honest about this stuff. Yet amazingly, people spend lots of time on locating a job and a mate and very little time locating themselves.

"Employees should not demand that companies imbue their lives with meaning," writes E.L. Kersten in the Harvard article. "Employers and employees have something the other needs. One of the keys to a mutually beneficial relationship is a realistic understanding of what that something is."

Online dating is not a bad model for evaluating a job. For one thing, you should never write that you want a mate to make you feel fulfilled– that's asking much too much from a single person. Yet we complain all the time that our jobs are not fulfilling.

Dating services ask that you be as specific as possible in stating your desires. So try that for a job. Here's what I would ask for in a job, and it's the same thing I sought in a spouse:





Consistent with my values

Leaves space for the other parts of my life

And here's another thing about those lists: You're probably going to have to be your list to get your list.

That's why interesting people are at interesting companies.

So be who you want to be instead of looking for a mate or a company to make you who you wish you were.

The job hunt is separate. The job is something you have to do to support yourself. Since you're going to be doing it for a good portion of your life, you should look for some basics: People who respect you and your personal life. A company that is honest. A job that uses your skills and experience. A job that challenges your abilities without overwhelming you.

Work does not need to give your life a grand purpose in order to be a good experience. The most pleasurable work provides a perfect balance between too much and too little­ in terms of both amount and difficulty, according to Diane Fassel, the chief executive of workplace survey firm Newmeasures and author of Working Ourselves to Death.

So stop looking at your job to solve your problems and instead look inside yourself. Make friends with yourself and with other people, and your job, whatever it is, might start looking better because you're not asking so much from it.

The Hook officially opens its new online dating service, Hook Café, today. Make sure you're in good mental shape before you fill out your profile. –editor.