You have such a great personality! (And, I’m not just saying that so you’ll read this article.) I know you do, because all of us—whether we’re introverts or extroverts, thinkers or feelers, or strong in woo—have personality-related strengths.
If you can find a career that maximizes those strengths, your work can fill your “energy bucket” instead of draining it—making your work significantly more rewarding, enjoyable, and successful. Considering so much of your time is spent at work, feeling fulfilled daily will allow the positivity to spill into other parts of your life.
There are financial benefits as well. According to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, “Individuals can earn additional income of more than their monthly salary per year if they hold a job that fits their personality. Thus, at least for some traits, economic success depends not only on having a ‘successful personality’ but also, in part, on finding the best niche for one’s personality.” In short, we thrive when put in an environment that lines up with who we really are.
Conversely, if you feel the need to hide or alter your personality at work, it can lead to depression, resentment about your job, and poor engagement. (Obviously, most of us act a bit differently at work versus letting loose with friends, but it becomes a problem if you feel like you can’t be authentic at work.)
So, how do you find a job that matches your unique combination of talents and personality traits?
The warm-up round: Try personality/career aptitude tests
Personality and career aptitude tests are an easy (and kind of fun) way to start thinking about how personality and work intersect. You’ve likely done these kinds of assessments in the past. Tests like Myers-Briggs, Clifton StrengthsFinder, and Keirsey Temperament Sorter are ubiquitous in the corporate world. (In fact, 88% of Fortune 500 companies use them for team building, coaching, and hiring.) But, even if you’ve taken a test before, try it again to see if your priorities have changed over time.
These tests can be pricey, so see if your employer already has access. If not, here’s a list of similar tests you can take for free to get some high-level insights. (Careful: Major rabbit hole warning). All of these assessments are thought starters—not set in stone. You know you more than anyone, so think about assessments as a starting point in your bigger journey.
The next level: Do some serious self-reflection
After the personality tests get you in the groove, it’s time to do some concerted self-analysis. Write your thoughts down. Things get real when you see them on paper. Set aside some time to explore questions such as:
- What are my values/personal priorities? What makes a job fit those values/preferences? What kinds of careers align with those values?
- What kind of work makes you feel alive and energized? When do you get so immersed that you lose track of time? What topics do you totally nerd out about? (And, what work bores you or gives you anxiety?)
- What’s your dream job? If you could have any job (and not fail), what would it be? Why does it interest you? What parts of that job bring you energy and are there other jobs where you can find it as well?
- Looking back at your career… What accomplishments are you most proud of? How did you accomplish them? Where have you felt your most confident and effective? What was it about the job/situation that helped your strengths shine through?
- What kind of impact do you want to make? What gives you a sense of fulfillment? How do you want to be remembered?
The exploration stage: Brainstorm and research career options
We often focus on careers that we should do based on our education or experience. But, it doesn’t need to be that way. Based on your reflections:
- Brainstorm careers that might fit your personality without restrictions. Don’t hold back on ideas—like all brainstorming more options are good. It works even better if you’re brave enough to ask some friends or family members to help.
- Choose 3-4 of the ideas that interest you and create career scenarios. Think about what it would take to make that career a reality.
- Researching those careers. Do informational interviews with people who have those jobs today, to ensure your vision of the job is accurate. Once your job options are thoroughly vetted, you’ll have a new (and possibly surprising) path ahead of you!1
Finding a career that matches your personality is possible!
I’m lucky enough to see people transition to a career that better fits their personality every day. I work at Salo—an organization that matches senior consultants in HR, finance, and accounting to organizations that need their help. Most of our consultants have made the jump from corporate jobs to consulting careers because it’s a better fit for their personality, values, and lifestyle. It’s exciting to see how the path they’ve chosen fills up their “energy bucket” every day.
So, I know finding the right career for your personality is possible. It may take a little effort, but it’s worth it. You’ll be more satisfied and confident in your work—and you’ll perform better, too. Ready! Set! Go!
If you’re in HR, finance, and accounting and interested in learning more about a consulting career, let me know. I’d be glad to help you learn more about how it works at Salo.
- Check out the Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans for step-by-step instructions for the brainstorming and research process