Are You on the Right Career Path?

Rick Beaton  •  Apr 27, 2020  •  9 min read

What do you want to be when you grow up? It seems that almost everyone gets asked this ubiquitous question as a child. While playing with your favorite toys, your family would suggest different aspirational careers for you like becoming an astronaut, a painter, or a rockstar.

The question remains as you begin school. If you get good grades in math, engineering becomes a career option. If you have an affinity for literature, teaching seems like a plausible career. If you learned to play the clarinet well in band class, perhaps you’ll be a musician.

 

This question continues in college. What do you want to do? It’s time to choose your major. Will you lean towards Medicine, Law, Astrophysics, Computer Science, Business?

 

Unsurprisingly, this question persists after you graduate. Where will you work? What kind of job will you get? Should you start your own business?

 

The question lingers even after you’ve officially “grown up.” Do you like your job? Is it time to change career paths? Will you finally give up your corporate position to become the artist you’ve always wanted to be?

But what if there was an easier way? What if we focused not on the skills and knowledge we’ve acquired over time, but on our “capacity”, the innate hard-wiring for any given career?

The Guess-And-Check Career

Does it feel like when it comes to determining a career path, most of us are just guessing when it comes to our career talent and the kind of life we want to live?

 

Our excellent math skills puts an engineering career on the table, but the more complex math becomes, the more we realize how much we hate it.

 

Our love of baseball cards might lead to us to play baseball throughout school, before we realize that the amount of work it would take to even get a scholarship or play professionally is beyond what we’re willing to do.

 

We try a few different subjects in college before settling on history as a major, only to realize that our options for a career seem to be teaching or post-graduate work, neither of which are compelling, especially since we have student loans to pay off and we want to buy a house in the next 5-10 years.

 

An entry-level job pays the bills but we hate it; the work is not what you thought it was. The second job gets you a little closer to what you want to do, but it still feels tedious. Perhaps after 10-15 years, we’ll find that job that fits our specific talents and gives us the opportunities we want for our lives.

A New Way to Map a Career Path

But what if there was an easier way? What if we focused not on the skills and knowledge we’ve acquired over time, but on our “capacity”, the innate hard-wiring for any given career?

 

In actuality, we all have a hard-wired personality. And these say quite a bit about us and the right career path that harmonizes with our way of being.

 

Before we dive in to this concept, it’s important to provide some definitions. Colloquially, we often equate personality with the Myers-Briggs personality test. This test, while helpful to begin a conversation about the ways in which we are different from each other, is not that accurate when it comes to assessing personality. Developed in the 1920s, the Myers-Briggs test has since been made obsolete. The Myers-Briggs doesn’t produce accurate results and is not rooted in scientific research about people’s psychology and personality.

 

Within the past decade, researchers have made significant strides towards personality assessments that are accurate, consistent and rooted in science.

 

Now, imagine using a modern, accurate measurement of our personality to determine our optimal career path. Using science and modern research of psychology to guide us in our careers is a new way to approach work-life balance that is more accurate and insightful than before. We’re using data and tools to aid our decision-making process in business, tech, and medicine, so why not our careers?

Personality Tools for Career Development

The best tool we have for a personality assessment is called the Big 5 Personality Assessment. It is based on cutting-edge research and is now considered by many to be the gold standard in personality assessments.

 

The particular tool we use measures 5 major traits and multiple sub-traits for each.  These major traits are categorized into five distinct dimensions:

  • N (Need for Stability)

  • E (Extraversion)

  • O (Originality)

  • A (Accommodation)

  • C (Consolidation)

 

These traits form our innate capacity, which is consistent throughout our lives. It shapes our behavior and what we prefer. Thus, we should carefully consider them when deciding our career choices.

The power of this assessment lies in its ability to accurately define who we are. In the film Fight Club, there’s a line that says, “We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact…” If we remove the existential dread from this line, it’s essentially a reaction against the notion that we can be anything. We’ve been led to believe that we can set out and do anything we want to do, but this belief ignores the constraints of innate capacity. We are all unique in our personalities. Some people have a predilection for details. Others tend toward big picture work. Some people feel energized when they work collaboratively with a team. Others want solitude in their work. The framework provided by the Big 5 Personality Assessment helps people choose the right career path.

 

It is imperative to take our personalities into account when we consider the career we choose, or else we run the risk of choosing work that drains the life out of us. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a career that leverages our natural aptitudes? That’s why using personality tools for career development are important.

 

I’ve worked in career development and organizational development for decades, and with globalization, the internet, and recently remote work due to COVID-19, choosing and developing the right career has become increasingly important.

 

If you’re interested in developing your career using a tool such as the Big 5 Personality Assessment, let us know. We offer consulting for organizations and we provide teams a system to upskill and develop their careers with.

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