Until recently, career professionals believed a satisfying career was one that matched a person’s values, interests and skills with the job.
While this sounds good, there’s one problem: it just doesn’t work for most people. For two reasons: as it turns out, these “big three” – values, interests and skills – are not the most important factors, and they all change over time.
In the United States people are asked to make important career decisions way too early. In high school, students have to decide whether or not to go to college, and once in college, are required to declare a major by their sophomore year. Thus at twenty-years old, students routinely make important life decisions that set in motion a career trajectory that many find difficult to change. (This is not a knock on twenty-year olds! I’m just suggesting that most people don’t usually get a handle on who they are and what’s really important to them, until much later in life.)
So, the lucky ones graduate, land a job in “their field” and begin working. As they get married and have families, understandably the values they held at twenty are often replaced by new ones. And as they experience more of life, they also develop new interests and skills.
Before they know it, they’re in their forties with other mouths to feed, a mortgage and car payments to make with fresh worries about how to pay for their kids’ education and their retirement. And although studies show that less than half of all workers would choose the same job if they could have a “do over”, there are many good reasons why so many people stay right where they are: looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself, society applauds stability and disapproves of risk-taking, people grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and many just don’t see a lot of viable options – especially in a tight job market.
So, they stay in unfulfilling jobs and “run out the clock” looking forward to retirement. Unfortunately, due to the sharp economic downturn, it’s not unusual for people to continue working well into their sixties and seventies. The point is: most of us will have to work for a long time: we might as well enjoy it!
“So, if matching a job with my values, interests and skills will not lead me to a satisfying career, what will help me find work that uses my natural talents and really excites me?
You may be surprised to learn that everyone is born with one of sixteen different Personality Types. And although all individuals are unique, people of the same “type” are remarkably similar in important ways – especially with regards to their “career satisfiers” – those elements in a job they need in order to find satisfaction and success.
Personality Type is not new. It’s been around for more than fifty years. Nor is it some whacky pop-psychology fad. If it were, it wouldn’t be used daily by eighty-nine percent of the Fortune 100 Companies to help their employees be more productive and successful in their careers.
You might ask: “If matching a career with my values, interests and skills doesn’t work, how does knowing my Personality Type help?” For two reasons: first (unlike the other three) your Type does not change. Sure, you mature as you grow older, but your core needs, the way you’re hardwired to think and act, what motivates and is important to you, your natural, in-born talents as well as those activities that energize and drain you, all remains constant. (For example, the quiet, thoughtful five-year old who loved reading science fiction and assembling model space ships, might grow up to be a very satisfied and successful scientist. Likewise, the outgoing, persuasive seven year-old who sold more Girl Scout cookies than anyone else in her school, may well turn out be a top business development person).
Second, when your job is a good fit for your type, it energizes you. You look forward to going to work and are much more likely to succeed. The opposite is also true. When your job is not a good fit for your type, your work drains your energy, makes you prone to burnout and you’re much less likely to be successful.
Maybe you’ve overheard people talking in what sounded like an “alphabet soup” of letters: “ESTJs…”INFPs”….These actually stand for two of the sixteen types. Learning about your type can help you in real and concrete ways including, understanding just what you need in a career for it to be satisfying, determining which careers work best for you, knowing how to capitalize on your work-related strengths compensate for your weaknesses, and using your strengths to conduct a much more successful job search.
If you’re curious to know your type and which careers are right for you, simply take a free, quick and accurate personality type assessment. It will definitely change the way you think about work…forever.