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The Best Way to Stay Excited About Your Work: Take a Job You’re Not Quite Qualified For


We spend so much of our lives at work. While making money, having good benefits, and experiencing marked success are important, it might also be nice to actually be excited about the job you do. The benefits of having enthusiasm about your work, and passion for your job, are not to be underestimated, and staying challenged and stimulated by your occupation might just be the key.


(Photo Credit: xJason.Rogersx/Flickr)

Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Insider Network, MPW Insider, is an online community that asks the biggest names in business to answer questions about leadership and careers. This month, one question posed was, “How do you stay excited about your job?” Liz Wiseman, president of Wiseman Group and author of the book Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, provided a fascinating response that deserves further consideration.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Wiseman’s recommendation? If you want to be happy at work, never take a job you’re qualified for:

“I began to see that the best jobs are often the ones we’re not ‘ready’ for. In our rookie state a certain genius gets sparked and a learner’s advantage kicks in. When we are stretched beyond our current capabilities, we can tap into a different mindset — what I have come to call rookie smarts — where we perform at our best and revel in the thrill of learning.”

Here are some tips for finding your next challenge.

1. Try taking a new position within your company.

One way to step out of your comfort zone and into a more exciting career is to consider working within a new domain. If you work in one department, think about whether or not you might enjoy spending time in another. What skills would you like to exercise that you haven’t utilized lately? Consider trying something new, even if it feels like you’re unqualified to do so.

2. Think about your skills, not just your experience.

Remember, you bring more to your job than just your professional experience. The skills you bring to the table qualify you for many positions that you might not consider when you’re only thinking of your experience. Maybe you’re an excellent writer, or a fantastic communicator. Maybe you’re highly organized, or uniquely adept at working with data. Think about how you could apply your skills to a job that seems out of your reach. The experience is easy to obtain. It’s the skills that take time to develop.

3. Talk to your employer.

Your talents, your passions, and your intelligence are valuable to your employer and they want you to utilize them as much as possible. After taking an honest look in the mirror to discover what your next great professional adventure might be, have a talk with your employer where you share this vision. Enthusiasm and renewed purpose are very appealing, and you might be surprised by the way your ideas are received.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you experience renewed enthusiasm by taking a job you weren’t quite qualified to do? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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AndrewSallyJeniece DawkinsDiane Morgenroth Recent comment authors
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Jeniece Dawkins
Jeniece Dawkins

This article was absolutely refreshing. I can relate to the advice from direct experience. I accepted an opportunity that took me 100% out of my comfort zone (leader of team in a product demand environment). Thankfully that particular leader, who was once my client, saw potential and it was the unquestionable best career move ever. I learned beyond what I could imagine, experience broadened vastly, confidence grew considerably, and I have a greater appreciation for humility. I’ve returned to my… Read more »


It looks like companies (and their managers) have lost the ability to think outside the box and consider the transferability of skills. They act like workers must spring from the womb with a fully formed body of knowledge in a particular subject area. Workers learn along the way. That applies to managers too. Let’s remember that work, especially for knowledge workers, is very fluid and constantly changing. What worker X knows today is likely not what she will need to… Read more »


I agree with challenging yourself but adding stress by taking a position your not qualified for doesn’t make sense when trying to find happymess. Money isn’t everything but being free of financial stress can be a key to hapoyness. I agree only that staying stagnant does less your moral over time so keep trying to move up which of course comes with more pay = happyness

Diane Morgenroth
Diane Morgenroth

While I totally agree with the concept, executing this is a very hard thing to do. It’s incredibly difficult for most people to get a prospective employer to a candidate a chance at a role that they’re not quite ready for. I agree, however, with the idea that it’s plausible when it’s an internal move. If you’re a valued employee, your organization should be open to giving you that opportunity to expand/grow. However, that can still be tough for small… Read more »

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