When I taught at Moorhead State University (as it was then called), I served as an adviser to students who had not declared a major. We had a wonderful dean who encouraged students to put off choosing a major until sophomore year, or later. I was on board with that philosophy since English was my third major. I managed to acquire two degrees without giving any thought to what I would do for a living. (That summer school typing course I took after 10th grade turns out to have been my foundational skill set.)

Occasionally I have interviewed someone who picked a career early on and stuck with it. A couple of times it was someone who selected a medical field because of an early, life-saving encounter.

Most of the time, though, people bounce around. If they’re happy, they’ve gotten some lucky break. And I tend to focus on people who are happy with their jobs.

There are ways of finding out what you’re good at. The Strengths Finder is an excellent assessment tool. When I took it, my five strengths were basically learn, learn, learn, learn and command. I realized that by stumbling into a career as a communications consultant, I had positioned myself perfectly–steep learning curves in a new client company every year or so and then a communication plan based on my findings.

I also had the good fortune to take an assessment offered by Jim Carr, of Right Connections, LLC. He contributed some interesting additional bits of information. I register unusually low in “compliance.” But I am also low in “control,” and actually a little above average in “stability.” In short, I don’t just think outside the box–I live outside it. But I’m happy to come inside if someone a) shows me where the box is and b) gives me a good reason to be there.

I am motivated, Carr’s assessment told me, by aesthetics. It’s not enough to stumble through to the end point–for me, the process itself has to be pleasing.

Once again, my consulting career made sense: I was the English major on the IT project, the one whose job was to be the voice of the end-user. And even though the utilitarians in the IT department would have been content to stumble through, they welcomed suggestions for a Happy Path.

Myers-Briggs, Strengths-Finder, Discovery Insights–all of these assessments are helpful. And while a master interpreter like Jim Carr maximizes their usefulness, you can get some insights from free online versions.

In short, be sure your job search includes some inner searching.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email