Imagine going to work every day and feeling proud of what you achieve. You are doing something that is important to you and you strongly believe it is worthwhile. You feel at home in your workplace and it’s as if the job were made just for you.
Imagine going to work every day and constantly feeling that what you are doing goes against what you believe and think. It violates your personal beliefs and makes you feel uncomfortable – both mentally and physically.
Both of these positions may seem a little extreme. For most people there are good parts and not so good parts to their job. Finding a job which suits you can help to give you job satisfaction and feel happier.
There are at least four aspects* of yourself that you need to consider skills (we looked at this on Day 4), personality, values and interests.
How well do you know yourself?
What kind of a person are you?
Psychologists suggest that we can get to understand ourselves (and each other) better by identifying underlying traits or types. Employers will often include personality assessments in their selection process to find people they think would be most suited to the role. Whether you are a person who is good at and interested in small details or the big picture; likes talking to people or works best alone and quietly; is cautious or risk-taking…although you could still do a whole range of jobs you might flourish better in ones that utilise your skills, personality and interests.
What are your work values?
Values are the things that are really important to you. They are also the things which are important to organisations and you may see them proclaimed on websites. Many organisations are beginning to recruit people who seem to have values which are in line with theirs.
Here are some examples of things you may value:- Creativity – Autonomy – Justice – Fun – Achievement – Using skills – Continuous learning – Security – Work-Life balance – Money – Status
Some values are likely to be more important to you than others so that, for example, you may be willing to sacrifice ‘security’ in a job for ‘creativity’.
What interests you?
Are you interested in how things work, or in talking to people?
Do you like being outdoors in nature?
Are you fascinated by facts and figures?
Finding a job which matches your interests is not essential as you can always keep this for your spare time but then doing something which totally bores you will make the days pass very slowly!
Why is it useful to know all this about yourself?
Knowing what makes you tick can provide you with a handy blueprint against which to match any potential jobs by asking are the values and activities of the organisation in line with mine? Or at least not in complete opposition? In fact, nowadays it isn’t always helpful to choose one specific job title which you want to go for but to have a checklist of things you are looking for in a job.
Remember that the first few years of your career for many people is a time when they try to find where they fit in the world of work. Recruitment and selection is a two-way process where you have the chance to decide if a job is right for you as well as the employer choosing you (although if the competition is high then you might feel they have more power to exercise choice than you do).
Here’s a thought…if you are 21 now then you MAY work for around 40 hours a week for another 45 years before retiring (or longer). That’s a whopping 80,000 hours spent working. That is a long time to be doing something that makes you unhappy. So perhaps you could give some thought to what would make you at least reasonably happy in the longer term and aim towards that.
Does this mean we should all be saving the world and having fun at work every day? Not necessarily….you may be need to be flexible to get the job done and earn a living. Similarly, you do get paid to do a job so you can’t expect it to be fun all the time. This is especially true in your early career when you may find that you have to make some compromises in order to gain the skills and experiences you’ll need later.
How can you learn more about your personality, values and interests?
Early in your career this may happen through a process or trial and error. Many graduates soon discover a job that looks ideal in theory just doesn’t suit them.
Try out at least one online questionnaire such as:-
Prospects Planner – career interests
Barratt values test – values
Values exercise – especially steps 4 & 5 (a reflective activity to elicit and prioritise values)
Personality assessments – personality profiling
Holland’s Interests inventory – career interests
Schein’s career anchors – available as the Career_Orientations_Inventory. (acknowledgements to www.acdp.pt)
Ask people who know you well to tell you what they see as being your defining personality traits. You could even ask them what kind of jobs they think would suit/not suit you. It doesn’t mean you should blindly accept their suggestions but it’s an additional perspective to consider.
Reflection – Who has values or personality traits you admire (either someone you know or a famous person)? Who is doing a job which is in line with their values? Who isn’t? What can you learn from these people?
There are lots of books and websites to help you through the process of finding a career that you feel suits you. Careers & Employability and the library have a good selection you can read.
- ‘What colour is your parachute?’ by Richard Bolles
- Graduate Careers Guidebook by Steve Rook
Are there any others you have found particularly useful? Let us know.
*There may be other things which will influence your career decisions, for example personal circumstances, health related issues or geographical location. If you need to discuss this you can get in touch with Careers and Employability.