Dear Sam: I feel like I’m stuck in a job that doesn’t match my personality. I find myself feeling demotivated, and I dread Mondays. How do I even begin to find a career that would be a good fit for me? I’m well into my thirties, but I still have no idea what I want to be when I “grow up.”– Lost & Confused
Dear Lost & Confused: A person’s career can be a considerable part of his or her identity, so feeling like you’re in a job that doesn’t “fit” can be very difficult and draining. Taking some time for self-reflection and research is a valuable first step in the career discovery process. For starters, think through the following questions:
What’s my style? A career that’s a good fit will reflect your work style inside and out. Do you thrive in high-pressure situations, or does the thought of goals and deadlines give you anxiety? Do you prefer working with a team or independently? Can you picture yourself sitting at a computer all day, or is interacting with others regularly important to you? These questions all relate to your work style.
What do I want to wear every day? When you picture yourself getting ready for your day, do you see yourself dressing in a suit and tie? Business casual? Jeans and work boots? Medical scrubs? How you want to dress could give you insight into what type of environment you wish to be in.
How much creativity do you want? Are you a person who likes to take the initiative, or would you rather follow detailed instructions? Is creating something from scratch appealing to you? Do you have an eye for detail and design, or do you prefer working with factual data? Identifying how creative you want to be can help you narrow down your search.
These are some of the first questions you could ask yourself, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. There are tools available to assist you in identifying a profession that is a good match for you. For example, taking a career assessment online such as the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), the Holland Code, or the Self-Directed Search (SDS) can reveal your interests, skills, personality traits, and values. Working with a professional job coach or career counselor can offer an even more in-depth self-discovery process.
One of the first steps in writing a resume and developing a personal brand is narrowing down a target audience. If you are unsure about who you are and where you want to go in your career, this critical step of narrowing down a target can feel impossible. Many clients we work with have previously made the job search mistake of being overly broad in their messaging and trying to cast a wide net, essentially applying for anything and everything if they think they qualify. I see the same strategy sometimes taking place when people try to choose a career, and they end up settling for something “safe” instead of taking the time to honestly think about what type of career fits their personality, interests, values, and skills. However, personal/job fit affects a person’s impact, productivity, job satisfaction, job performance, and career capital, which can play a huge role in a person’s life.
Being in your thirties means you could have another thirty+ years in the workforce, so taking time to discover a path that’s right for you is time well spent. I wish you the best of luck in your search!