Career Contexts: The Russian dolls of work…

Picture of small wooden doll, at the heart of a set of russian matroshyka dollsWhen people talk about careers and work, they typically mean their jobs… and the job we do – the roles we play, the responsibilities we have and the day-to-day tasks we perform – are certainly key to our work.

But if you’re looking to find career fulfillment, there’s much more to consider.

Our jobs sit within occupations, within teams, within departments, within organisations… nesting inside each other, like a set of Russian dolls. At each circle out, there are opportunities to enhance – or diminish – our enjoyment of work, through the choices we make. Take a tour of your options, before you make any moves…


Daily tasks are the heart of your job, so choose work that plays to your strengths. What does your ideal day look like? What skills do you use? Are you face-to-face or behind the scenes? Hands-on or hands-off? Active or desk-based? With a bit of creativity, you can often tweak your role to fit you better – or explore the next circle out…


One step out, and you find alternative roles – sibling jobs, or variations on a theme. HR, for example, offers recruitment, training, policy or industrial relations; ICT covers sales, design, coding or training. If the broad work area interests you, but the job’s not quite right, look around you – what else is out there, in the same overall field?

Team and Department

You can like your job, but dislike your boss… or work from home and miss the team. People are enormously important to our happiness at work – so factor them in. Identify the kind of people you want to be around, and you can plan accordingly; research your options, talk to industry insiders, and ask about team fit at interview.


You may like your job, enjoy the field and love your team – but if company culture violates your values, you’re unlikely to be happy. What does your ideal employer stand for, and what are they like? Big enough for progression, or small enough for soul? High energy start-up, or established and stable? What things matter to you?


Roles, fields and employers sit within industries. Nurses can work in health-care, or provide health care to corporates. Accountants can sit within financial services, construction, retail or mining. The industry you work in can change the feel of your work; think engineering vs. fashion. What types of industry interest you?


Private, Government, Not-for-profit… each sector has a different character, with its own strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons. Where do you see yourself fitting?

Whether you’re just starting out or starting over, it pays to consider all your options.

There’s a world of work permutations – and career opportunities – out there.


Need help finding a career that works for you?

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