Success in Career by Knowing Yourself
Choosing a career path is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make—but how do you decide what is right for you? You may take a career path that uses the skills you have or the education you’ve gotten. You may even choose a career based on what you think you “should” do—because of what your parents or teachers have told you is right for you. But you may not know that you are naturally more suited for some careers than for others. Why? Each of us has an individual personality type that affects how much we’ll like a job.
Carpenter vs Counselor
Think, for instance, about a carpenter versus a counselor. A carpenter works with concrete objects, according to specified procedures, and has a tangible result. A counselor works with people and their feelings; she has to judge success and the results of her work based on abstract concepts. Which of these sounds more appealing to you? Do you have a strong preference for one or the other?
Now, imagine if you had to make your less-preferred choice your career, and you will get an idea of the impact that your personality has on your job satisfaction. There is quite a bit of variation in how people think and process information, what they see as important, and how they make decisions. All of this variation can affect how happy or unhappy someone is in a work environment. Each one of us has different criteria for what a great job is, and to find your own perfect career, it is crucial to identify what is important to you.
"Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open." ~Elmer G. Letterman
The first step is to figure out your personality type. The most common personality test used for career counseling is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This personality test measures four facets of personality:
Extroverted/Introverted—Do you get your energy from being with people, or being alone?
Sensing/Intuition—Do you see what’s actual, or what’s possible?
Thinking/Feeling—Do you make decisions with your head or your heart?
Judging/Perceiving—Do you like to make decisions, or keep your options open?
There are many ways to find out what your personality type is. Some people prefer to read about the types and choose what seems to fit best. There are also free quizzes on the internet based on the principles of the Myers-Briggs that can give you an idea of where you may fit.
However, if you are serious about finding out what type you are, the most reliable and accurate method is to take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is a scientifically validated instrument that will identify where you fall in each of the categories. This assessment can only be administered by someone trained in its application, and must include a consultation with a trained coach or consultant according to its licensing guidelines. You can take the personality tests through a career counselor in your area, or online. If you take it online, you will typically get the results the same day, and you can usually request a special report that will go into detail about what is important to look for in a career.
Once you have figured out your personality type, you will want to look at the careers you are considering and evaluate whether they fit what’s important to you. Some questions to ask yourself:
How much time will I spend interacting with people? Will it be too much/too little?
To what extent will I be expected to follow standard procedures? Will I feel restricted by too much structure? Will I feel frustrated by too little?
Will this job require me to use logic and reason things out? Will it require me to use compassion and consider how decisions will make people feel? Am I comfortable with the extent to which I will have to act based on thinking or feeling?
How much latitude will this job give me to make my own schedule? Is it too little? Too much?
It’s important to be realistic about what a job entails, and to ask as many questions as possible about prospective jobs so that you can evaluate how well they’ll fit you. As you learn more about yourself, you will become more able to judge which jobs will bring you satisfaction.
It's important to keep in mind that you are responsible for your own career. Don't Expect the Human Resources Department to plan your career. In fact, don't expect anyone else to be concerned about it either.
There have been times in my career when someone has taken an interest in my promotion; however, it has always been in their own best interests to do so. Remember, companies are in business primarily to make money.
Once you find a job that matches your personality, next is how to build your career on character. Here are the guidance:
Always support the company
Make your boss and your boss’s boss look good
Know the leaders of the company
Learn the rules
Always Support the Company
It's true that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. There will be ample opportunities on a daily basis to bash your employer. Resist those opportunities. Keep in mind that (1) you chose this company, (2) they pay you, and (3) you can leave if you want. The leaders of the company will not be impressed by your ability to complain.
Make Your Boss and Your Boss's Boss Look Good
As a practical matter, you are most likely working to take your boss's job. Hopefully, your boss will be promoted, which will leave a vacancy. If your boss is not going anywhere, then the next level will have a major impact on your next position.
Who are the Leaders of the Company?
Find out the background of the company executives. What career path did they take? Chances are, they will value those credentials above others. Take note of great people in the company and get connected to them. If possible, find a way to work for them. If not, establish a network with as many of them as possible. The best possibility is to ask one of them be your mentor. You will be surprised how many people will be interested in helping in this regard.
Learn the Rules
Watch What You Write or Say. Assume that anything you write or say will be read or heard by everyone in the company. E-mail makes it easy to respond emotionally. Before you respond to an irritating e-mail, take a minute to calm down, then, write the e-mail. If you have a tendency to send harsh messages, save a draft and review it sometime later to ensure the tone is business appropriate.
A corollary to this principle is Happy Hour - don't go! There is a huge risk of saying something you shouldn't say, getting out of control, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You should stay out of office politics. Don't say anything bad about anyone, ever.
Arrive Early and Leave Late, but Not Too Late. You want the reputation of a hard worker, but not one that can't get their work done. This principle also applies to taking work home. Over the long-term, you want to have a life outside of work. Maintaining a work/life balance will keep you engaged in your job; therefore, more productive.
Find Out What Your Boss Wants and Deliver. Regardless of your personality, relationships, or good looks, you must be productive. For your boss, it means doing what they want, no matter how silly it may seem to you. For example, I had a boss that wanted to know how many Dairy Queens between Dallas and Houston served a particular yogurt.
Give People Credit. Don't take credit for yourself. This is important for a variety of reasons. First, you need people to help you get things done. Second, when people recognize people who work for you, you get the credit as well. Third, it's the right thing to do.
When It Comes to Your Career -
Remember Who You Work For
Learn the Rules
As Bill Karnes put it, "Eagles don't flock; they fly alone. And eagles soar above the rest of their world. So, too, do people who start things, who lead groups or who otherwise set themselves apart from the crowd."
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