Over the course of my lifetime, I will log 83,200 hours at work. So will you (give or take a few hours). If we’re going to be devoting this much time and energy to something, we want to make it count for something…
That’s why I feel it’s so important to devote a lot of thought to where we fit into this vast world of work. And the sooner we can figure this out, the better. That said, I know it takes people awhile before they end up finding their dream job and some say they’re always learning and never feel settled. But the sooner we can lay out a plan, the sooner we can start feeling productive, building networks and experience and, let’s face it, making money.
You might be asking yourself, where do I start? The options can be overwhelming and competing priorities in our lives can be distracting. I know from my own personal experience, that I didn’t give enough thought to my career plan at an early age. I let my quirky, opinionated law and sociology teacher with his sensational lessons on crime and the legal system shape a few too many of my thoughts, perhaps. And that was really the extent of my decision to select my major going into university. I based my decision on the content I found interesting in high school. I can’t say that strategy was necessarily wrong, and is probably very typical, but I wonder what would have happened if, say, journalism was a course that was available to me? We’ll never know. Regardless, I’m (slightly) wiser now and feel it’s my duty to help others integrate all kinds of career information to create a plan that will energize them.
In my opinion, a helpful starting point is a career “fitness” test, or career interest assessment. Admittedly, this is not how I started my career exploration process years ago. But, as we just learned, I didn’t exactly have a well-thought-out plan at 18 years old. It certainly didn’t help that career assessments were not available at my high school, and unfortunately I didn’t feel that I received very much guidance in determining my career path. Aside from my practical father recommending I find a job with a pension and benefits in the IT field. I can still hear his voice telling me that’s where all the jobs are. He was right; however, it just didn’t “fit” me. I’m thankful for his insight and ultimately feel that students these days are in a better position – it seems that the guidance and career counseling field has advanced considerably and career interest tools are much more commonly used and widely available.
Now that I work for a company that specializes in career interest assessments, I understand the importance of this type of tool. I believe that, by showing you my own Jackson Career Explorer (JCE) results, I can best explain where I fit in the world of work and help you answer this question for yourself.
First, it’s probably helpful for you to understand how the JCE works. It goes a little something like this:
- You log in to take the assessment online.
- You answer a series of questions about what activities you like to do.
- You get your results in a report that presents you with a bunch of information that is helpful in exploring and choosing a career.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the tool, I can share my JCE results with you to help us understand where I fit in the world of work. Here are my top job groups:
The JCE is *bang on* in terms of predicting career paths that would be a great fit for me. To elaborate, I’ll say that my career interests have evolved since I completed graduate school six years ago. I pursued my master’s degree in the field of social science, and as you can see, it’s my 8th job group. This job group is still relatively high for me but interestingly, my experience with and interest in the practical applications of this field has grown over the past few years. As you’ll see in my profile, these practical job groups have overtaken the Social Science and Research job group. In general, my top 8 job groups hang together quite nicely, but Law & Government sticks out a bit. It makes good sense though, because I’ve always had an interest in this field and, in fact, law was my main career ambition during my teenage years. However, once I arrived at university and started taking advantage of the diverse courses it had to offer, my interests expanded to include things like psychology and philosophy and I was soon faced with a tough decision. Do I pursue the psychology stream or the law stream? It would have been helpful for me to job shadow someone at this point, but even still it would have been a tough decision and still would be if I had to do it all over again today. In my opinion, it’s okay to always wonder about other career options, but you have to develop a plan and, at some point, make a decision so that you can get on with your life.
But I digress. Back to my results. As you can see, most of my other top job groups relate in some way to psychology and helping people. Note my #1 job group: Career & Guidance Counseling. This blends nicely with the work that I do every day in my current job.
You should now have a good idea of where I fit…but it’s also helpful to take a step back and look at the other information contained in the JCE report, in other words, learn how we arrived at these fit predictions. I’ll tackle this in a future post that will outline how to get the most “bang for your buck” from career “fitness” tests.
If you need help answering the question of where you fit, please connect with me by posting your feedback and comments. If you feel you have a good handle on it, please share how you got there or plan to get there. Your insights could help others just like you who are looking to find their place in this world of work.