Archive for the ‘Careers and work’

October 24th, 2007

The right job


We spend a third or more of each day at work. And most of us have to work for a very long time—40 years or more. So if we spend all that time doing something that is not right for us, it can have a huge negative impact. Many people think they want a job (or they have a job) that they are not really suited for.

Most vocational guides focus on skills and preferences, with little consideration for personality. But a job that is perfect for one person can be a misery for another. So when looking for a job or choosing a career we need to consider more than wages, conditions, security, our skills, or promotion potential.

If your job doesn’t suit and enhance your personality you are like a square peg trying to squeeze into a round hole (and getting your edges damaged in the process). We need to think about who we are and what work is best suited to our personality.

The right job:

  • Makes use of your innate strengths (and doesn’t need your weaknesses).
  • Suits the way you naturally do things.
  • Doesn’t overly stress you or require things of you that you struggle to provide.
  • Doesn’t force you to do things that you don’t do well or don’t like doing.
  • Feels comfortable and satisfying.

The right job matches your personality. But how do you know what your personality is? We know ourselves (in the same way we get to know others)—by observing how we habitually behave (and also how we feel, and what we think). Don’t confuse who you think you are (or think you should be) with who you really are. Look for evidence. Ask yourself:

  • Are you an extrovert (fast paced, talkative, likes lots of people and activity and acts before thinking) or an introvert (likes to spend time alone, prefers only small groups, hates being the centre of attention, and thinks before they act)?
  • Do you like technical details and precision or do you look at the big picture?
  • Do you like stability or risk, challenge, routine, working alone or in a group?
  • Do you want freedom or are you happy to follow rules?
  • Do you want responsibility or dread it?
  • Are you easily bored?
  • Are you a good communicator, can you take pressure, are you thick or thin skinned? Are you a high-energy person or not, are you volatile or placid, do you thrive on drama and action or do you like serenity?
  • Are you a quick thinker or slower and more methodical? Are you careful or not?
  • Are you tactful or blunt, assertive or timid, easygoing or temperamental, do you need constant reassurance and feedback or not?
  • Do you need regular instructions and supervision or do you take the initiative?
  • Do you focus on facts and the present, or on possibilities, the future, insights and implications?
  • Are you imaginative and creative or practical?
  • Do you like change or prefer the status quo?
  • Do you like constantly learning or not?
  • Are you objective, logical, analytical or intuitive?
  • Do you have a lot of empathy and compassion or not?
  • Are you flexible or rigid, orderly or disorganized, do you like regulations or feel stifled by them?
  • Are you decisive or indecisive?
  • Do you like surprises and the unexpected or do they unsettle you?
  • How good at taking orders are you?
  • How much excitement do you need?
  • Are you good at persuading people and negotiating?
  • How ambitious are you?

Be honest with yourself. Don’t bother about what you think you should be like, should do, or how you could change.

Once you have a good idea of your personality traits and temperament research the job or career you are considering. List your personality traits and the requirements of the job. Is there a match? For example a teacher needs (among other things) patience, a police officer needs to be assertive, a lawyer needs logic and reason, a scientist must love details. A shy, introvert will have trouble in a job that deals with the public, someone easily stressed will struggle with high-pressure jobs, and a writer or artist who can’t stand being alone won’t get much work done. Without such basic matches such careers could not be satisfying.

Many of us accept jobs without knowing the reality of them. In job interviews ask questions about what personal qualities the job requires.

If you do things you naturally prefer, things that feel comfortable and normal, you will be more successful (and happier) than if you are trying to meet demands that feel awkward or unnatural to you.

© 2007 All rights reserved.


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