Do you want to find a job where you look forward to going to work each day? Then, ask yourself, “What are my interests?” “What do I prefer doing?” “When I am happiest in my job, what is it that I am doing?”
These are questions worth exploring.
Many job seekers look for jobs in the same old job categories in the same old industries, using the same old skills that led to their unhappiness in the first place. However, if they could take a step back, and think about their true interests – what they actually prefer doing- they might discover a new career direction that fits better with who they are.
At a very basic level, people have a preference for working with either ideas or people or things. The trick is to discover your preference. And research has shown that when people align this preference with work, they tend be happier and more successful in their jobs(1).
Are you someone who thrives in a social environment? Likes to work in a team atmosphere, bouncing your ideas off of others? Are you drawn to helping or mentoring or guiding others? Then you may have a “people” preference and would be happier in a work situation where you spend most of your day interacting with others.
Are you a person who likes to work with data or likes to be challenged by math problems? Do you enjoy working with your hands? Or are you drawn to concrete tasks? Do you consider yourself a practical person who likes clearly defined objectives? If you answered yes, then you may have a preference for “things” and might be happier in and “hands-on” work environment.
Are you an independent person who is drawn to creativity? Does your curiosity lead you to explore new ideas? Does solving an analytical challenge excite you? Then you may have a strong preference for “ideas”. You will be more satisfied in a job that allows you to express this intellectual curiosity.
Some of us may not have a strong preference, or we may have a preference for more than one category. There are jobs that allow for multiple preferences to be expressed. For example, a pre-school teacher works in a hands-on environment using her people skills. A chef needs to be both creative and concrete. Hotel managers interact with people for most of their day, but also are practical.
Assessing your interests can help point you in the direction of a career that aligns better with who you truly are. And when you are able to be more of your “true self” at work, don’t be surprised to find your self saying, “I love my job”.
Borgen, F. H., & Lindley, L. D. (2003). Optimal functioning in interests, self-efficacy, and personality. In W. B. Walsh (Ed.), Counseling psychology and optimal human functioning (pp. 55-91). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Press.