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It’s surprising how many people don’t consider their interests when they’re looking for a job. Many of us stumble into a job and stay there for years, even though we don’t particularly like it. Others move aimlessly from job to job, continually searching for one that feels right.
Most people actively pursuing a chosen career often become discouraged because they believe their dream job to be unattainable. In both situations, the solution often is to do some creative thinking.
Assessment tools such as the Holland Self-Directed Search® (SDS), Strong Interest-Inventory® and Myers-Briggs Type Inventory® can provide valuable insight. Based upon your answers each of these tools can generate a report which includes a list of possible options which may include a job you love. Although, any test results should be used only as a guide, they give you a place to start.
You can, however, carry out this process on your own. While it takes more time, many people get good results using self-assessment exercises. Here are two suggestions.
Start by looking at your favorite things. What subjects do you enjoy learning and talking about? What activities do you look forward to? Make a list of the subjects that interest you and the activities that you love. Write down everything. Don’t limit yourself to what you think are realistic career options. Assess this list carefully. Cut and eliminate until you have narrowed the list to ten items, or less.
Use this list to generate career ideas. Use your imagination. Ask people who know you for their suggestions. How do they think your interests might translate to a job. Now is the time to consider what it would take to reach your desired profession. Ask yourself if you’re willing to go the distance. and/or if your goals are realistic.
Carefully, consider what you need to do to work your dream job. You may love to play tennis. But would you want to play eight-hours a day, six-days a week. You might decide you’d be happier working at a magazine that covers sports, or even tennis, and playing tennis on the weekends.
Maybe your dream job is unrealistic: a famous pianist, giving concerts at Carnegie Hall. That doesn’t mean you must rule out a career in music. Do some research to discover other options in the music business. Talk to people who work in the field. Use them for inspiration and ideas.
Generally, people prefer to work either with ideas, people or things. Which works well, because most jobs focus either on ideas, people or things. Everyone, however, enjoys activities in each area. The task is discover our preferred focus. Consider the following descriptions to help determine yours.
Ideas – are you a curious, complicated, independent person more interested in exploring new ideas and using your creativity? People who prefer to focus on ideas may thrive on the analytic challenges of fields such as science or medicine, or artistic pursuits such as writing or interior design. While different in many respects, all of these careers require curiosity and creativity.
People – are you a sociable, friendly person who likes to communicate and guide others? Those who prefer to focus on people often find satisfaction in helping occupations such as counseling or teaching, or in persuasive professions such as politics or sales. All offer the opportunity to influence and guide others. All require spending your day working with people.
Things – are you an orderly, practical, persistent person who enjoys working with your hands and likes clearly defined tasks? People who prefer to focus on things may be content working in a hands-on environment like mechanics or farming, or using their math abilities as a bookkeeper, financial analyst or banker. These careers share a focus on things. There is, generally, not much interaction with others.
Don’t be concerned if you fit into more than one category. Many jobs are suited to those with a less clearly defined preference. For example, chefs are creative people who have a very hands-on job. So are landscape architects. A police artist uses their artistic talent within clearly defined boundaries. Bank tellers need to be careful and conscientious. But they also need to with people. And the list goes on.
Today there are hundreds of different jobs. The Occupational Outlook Handbook provides descriptions of 250. Use their searchable database to conduct research and generate ideas.
So how do you know what’s the right job for you, which job will be a job you love? Take your time. Consider your options. Stay open to new, even unusual, ideas. Ask advice from others. And then decide for yourself.
Self assessment can be just as effective. If you’d like some help working this out, HIRED! The Ultimate Job Search Course has an entire module titles Soul Search Before The Job Search.