“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We are all asked that question when we are children, but what happens when we are grown up and we still don’t know?
Unfortunately, many adults are still trying to find the “right” job; a job that fits. By fit, we mean a job that matches your personality, interests, work values, skills and overall preferences. Working in an occupation or company that is a poor fit can leave you feeling unfulfilled, stressed and may lead to burnout. It is a bit like writing with your non-dominant hand; you can do it for a while, but it does not feel natural, requires more effort and is not as effective as writing with your dominant hand.
So, how can you find work that is a good fit? There are many career assessment tools available that are a good starting point for exploring your options. An exercise I recommend is to reflect on your own experiences to uncover your likes, dislikes, interests, strengths and needs. One way of doing this is to make a list of past experiences, including jobs, volunteer positions and recreational activities. Then to write down your likes and dislikes from each of those experiences, being as detailed as possible. For example, instead of saying “disliked selling”, ask yourself, “what did I dislike about selling?” Did you dislike talking to customers, demonstrating products, trying to persuade customers to make a purchase or working on commission? When you dig deeper, you tend to find both positive and negative aspects for each experience, and sorting these out can help you learn more about what you are looking for in a job.
Recently, a friend of mine went through a successful career transition from being a manager of a sales team to working for a company that hosts professional development seminars. To ensure a good fit, he did something many home-buyers do; he listed his must-haves and his deal-breakers in order of importance. Just to name a few, he wanted a job that would allow him to get a dog, spend weekends with friends and family, travel, do public speaking and continue to wear his wide assortment of stylish suits. Clearly defining his vision allowed him to recognize a good match when he saw it and to move quickly into a new role. Writing a career wish list is much like house-hunting - you may not find the perfect match, but if you can find an 80-90% match, the other 10-20% becomes a small sacrifice in comparison.
If you or someone you know is in the process of exploring career options, consider career assessment tools, reflect on past experiences, define your dream job criteria and take the time needed to find a job with the right fit. The result will pay off in ways far beyond the value of the paycheque. With any of these steps, you may find it helpful to talk with an Employment Advisor at a local Employment Ontario agency, such as Lutherwood, where you can receive free assistance with your job search.