I have news for you: There’s no such thing as a perfect job. Even the careers that seem like they jumped straight from your dreams and into reality have their downsides—that’s why there’s a paycheck involved.
But, while you might never love every aspect of your job, there are a few things that you absolutely deserve to get from your career—aside from enough money to cover your bills.
Believe me, I get it. It’s easy to think that wanting and needing these things makes you picky, entitled, or high-maintenance. You’re getting paid to be there, so how much else do you really need?
Well, think about it this way: You’re going to invest a large chunk of your time, energy, and attention into your job. That means that a work environment that checks the following boxes isn’t something that you should consider to be meant for just the lucky few—it’s something you deserve just as much.
1. A Safe and Supportive Environment
Let’s start with the basics. You’re more than worthy of feeling safe and supported in your office. You should be able to bring your authentic self (your authentic professional self, of course) into work and not feel worried or threatened when doing so.
Rest assured that your expectations in regards to feeling secure in your surroundings aren’t unreasonable or out of line.
Nobody should have to head into the office day in and day out wondering who’s going to throw them under the bus or stab them in the back. You’re entitled to a basic sense of respect and a company culture that isn’t overflowing with toxicity.
2. A Boss Who’s Invested in Your Growth
When it comes to your career, your manager should be your greatest ally. They should be in the loop on your desires and plans for professional development and provide necessary support and guidance whenever they can.
If you feel like your supervisor is always undermining your accomplishments, offering criticisms that are in no way constructive, and is completely disinterested in your growth and advancement, know that you’re justified in wanting more.
Your boss doesn’t necessarily have to be your biggest cheerleader, but they should at least be in your corner.
3. An Understanding of Your Life Outside of Work
Work is a big part of your life—but it’s still only a part. It’s not the entirety of your existence, and you’re entitled to an employer who understands that fact.
Endless pings and emails when your team knows you’re away and unplugged. Major hurdles and complaints when you have a family emergency to deal with. Relentless guilt trips when you finally take a well-deserved vacation.
Those are things you shouldn’t have to deal with on a regular basis. You deserve a life outside of your job—and an employer who encourages you to live one.
4. An Appreciation for Your Contributions
There’s dignity in all work. Your job exists for a reason. Regardless of your specific role, you’re serving your company in some important way—whether you’re in the mail room or in the corner office.
That means you shouldn’t ever be made to feel worthless. You should pack up and head home every evening knowing that your contributions matter and are respected by the people that you work with.
No, you shouldn’t expect ice cream cakes and celebrations in your honor each and every week. But, there’s a big difference between that excessive level of recognition and simply feeling heard and valued for what you bring to the table.
5. A Sense of Fulfillment
Maybe you aren’t doing work that you consider to be particularly world-changing. But, you still deserve a job that gives you some level of fulfillment and a sense of purpose.
Perhaps you spend your days making things run smoothly in the office, and you find it rewarding that you can make life easier for your co-workers. Or, perhaps your interactions with your clients and your ability to help and serve them is what leaves you feeling gratified at the end of the day.
What constitutes a meaningful career is different for everyone, but you should get at least some degree of personal satisfaction from what you do.
Work isn’t always fun or glamorous—that’s exactly why we all get paid to be there. But, just because you head home with a paycheck doesn’t mean that everything else is forgiven.
When we all spend so much of our lives in the office, I like to think that we deserve more from our jobs than just a month’s worth of rent.
So, yes, you can call me entitled or needy or spoiled. But, in response, I’ll go ahead and use a different word to describe myself and my career: happy.
Photo of person in meeting courtesy of Maskot/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author