(Revised: Nov. 24, 2012)
By Michael T. Robinson
Chief Career Coach
After years of managing people, coaching them on the job, guiding them in their careers, and learning from the world's foremost career gurus, I can now confidently share with you, the 5 keys to achieving JOB SATISFACTION:
Finding or creating the career that is best for you and then learning to be successful in that career involves a process of self discovery and self awareness.
Princeton University, the most highly rated school in the US, thinks "self awareness" is so critical to success that they include it in their graduate program for entrepreneurs.
The fact is, too many people stumble, almost accidentally, into the type work they do. Often this results in a lot of career frustration, and a lack of success..
I ask my career counseling clients how they got into their job or why they picked their college major. Most tell me they just fell into their careers without much consideration. It's not until later in life that they realize they are not satisfied with their career.
Stumbling and trial and error does work for some people. I won't deny it. But a little time spent discovering one's career direction can make the difference between job satisfaction and hating one's job.
I don't have statistics on it, but I think the people who relied totally on trial and error are not as satisfied with their careers as those who developed a real career direction for themselves.
Finding your true career direction does not have to depend on luck and trail and error. You can take a much more direct path. Something with less risk and more certainty. Something that gets you there quicker.
The tools described below are all designed to help you understand yourself well enough to architect your own career and to put yourself on a path to achieve success and job satisfaction.
Of course a little luck will always help, and there will always be some trial and error. But nothing beats knowing yourself well enough to guide your own destiny.
Doing things that you can be passionate about and excited about is probably the most important key to creating the perfect career for yourself.
When you enjoy the tasks and the type of work you do, then it really does not feel like work at all. For example, the work I do is something that I am extremely passionate about. I typically work 6 1/2 days a week from morning till night and I still love it. I go to sleep thinking about what I can achieve tomorrow. When I wake up I can't wait to get started working. But this is a career that I created from scratch after some serious soul searching. There were no job postings for what I do, and no role models that I knew of at the time.
Not everyone needs to build a career from scratch, to create something out of nothing. Most people just need to pick the right career from a wide range of already existing careers.
It takes about 10,000 hours of practice and experience to become really good at something. That's about 5 to 8 years. Thus to become really good at a career, you have to like it enough to put in that kind of time and effort.
How do you know what types of work will interest you? Well, trial and error works, but it takes a long time - like several years. Fortunately there are tests (assessments) you can take that will help you identify careers that you could become passionate about. These assessments only take 20 minutes.
The two interest based career tests (career assessments) listed below will give you career ideas that match what you are interested in. They will give you lists of careers that match your interests. And they will show you which careers you might want to avoid.
Both assessments are based on the pioneering work of Dr. John Holland who developed the RIASEC system for understanding the different types of work. Both assessments will describe the RIASEC system, so I won't cover that here.
Both assessments will give you your Holland Code which is a 2 to 3 letter code indicating which types of careers you are most interested in.
Once you know your Holland Code you can look at any career and decide if it might be a good fit for you.
By the way, there is no career test that will tell you the one single career that is most perfect for you. It doesn't happen that way. Instead, you start with a list of matching careers. You narrow down the list to your top few choices and then you research those choices.
This is our own interest based Career Test (career assessment). It has been our most popular product since we introduced it in 2000.
Besides providing you with your Holland Code, a list of matching careers and a list of careers to avoid, this report will explain how to narrow down the list of careers to your top 3 choices and then how to make your final decision on a career and an education. We show you a proven way to make your final career decision.
The CiT works for ages 13 through 60 and beyond. It's very simple and written for a high school reading level.
We suggest people start with the CiT and then if more insight is needed, move on to the Strong.
The Strong is the industry standard interest assessment that identifies your interests and suggests careers that match. It also uses the Holland Code approach. In addition it utilizes the work of Dr. Strong from Stanford University.
Dr. Strong tested thousands of people in several different careers (The Strong was updated in 2012 with several new careers). The test subjects all enjoyed their work. So when you take the Strong you will see how you compare to people who enjoyed their careers.
The report is very sophisticated, with several charts, tables and statistics.
The Strong is good for ages 18 and up.
To offer the Strong, one must be trained and certified. We are. The Strong comes with a quick, over the phone interpretation session.
Quite frankly, some people like the CiT for it's simplicity and for the instructions about how to research careers and how to make your final career decision.
Other people prefer the Strong, for it's data, charts and statistics.
When you first hear the term "Personality Type," it may conjure up images of "TV personalities" or who was most popular in high school or who had a great personality. But that's not what we are talking about.
"Personality Type" is the popular term for Psychological Type which describes how our brains are wired, how our brains function, what each of our brains is good at, and how we prefer to do things and go about our lives.
Personality type is one of the most useful tools there is for selecting the right career, and for developing self awareness.
Part of what makes personality type so valuable in selecting a career is that there is over 70 years of research showing which personality types fit which careers.
Just go to Amazon.com and search for "Personality Type." There are over 200 good books on the subject of Type.
Although the original personality type theory was developed by Swiss Psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920's, it was Myers and Briggs who devised the 4 letter personality type code which has become so popular today. Their original motivation was to understand why certain personality types fit certain jobs better than other types.
They did much of their work during WWII when it was hard to fill all the jobs left open when the soldiers went off to war. So Myers and Briggs wanted a system where they could observe and assess people and then suggest jobs where they might want to work.
There are 16 fundamentally different patterns to how people use their Cognitive Functions. That is, how they see the world, how they think, how they make decisions, and how they prefer to go about their lives.
I like to think of each of these 16 personality types as a small computer program running in the back of our minds. We each have one. It describes how we naturally like to behave. It does not have the final say. We can always over ride it. But it's there all the time guiding our behavior minute to minute.
Most amazingly, your 4 letter personality type stays the same throughout your life. Even as you develop and mature your 4 letter type stays constant.
There are very few things in life that are constant and that you can depend on for so many years. Thus it pays to spend a little time to figure out what your type is and the types of the people around you.
Personality type is not an exact science. It can sometimes be hard to determine which of the 16 type patterns fits a person the best.
Life experiences, education, work environment and child hood upbringing all play a role in adjusting our "learned behavior" which rides on top of our core personality type. So it can take some effort to drill down past our learned behavior to each person's core personality type.
Yes. With over 7 billion people on this planet, there are obviously over 7 billion unique personalities. But, if you drill down to the core of each of these people, they are all running on one of the 16 personality types programs. No kidding.
How can that be? Because Carl Jung discovered that these cognitive functions are the basic building blocks in our brains. We all have these cognitive functions. What varies person to person is how much we can use each one. Plus, when you add the learned behavior that we get from life experiences, you can get 7+ billion unique personalities, all of which are running on one of the 16 basic programs.
It does not matter whether you were born in China, India, Canada, the UK or the USA. You still have one of these 16 types at your core.
For many years, Personality Type was only a theory backed up by lots of research and observable data. But there had been no physical proof. However, since 2000, that has changed. Researchers have discovered links between each of the 16 personality types and concentrations of neuro chemicals in the brain. So each personality type will have a slightly different brain chemistry in each section of the brain, compared to the other types.
But the proof goes beyond that. In his 2011 book "Neuroscience of Personality", researcher Dr. Dario Nardi at UCLA has shown that by attaching EEG electrodes to test subjects heads, that each of the 16 personality types use sections of their brains in a pattern that is different from the way the other 15 types use their brain.
So why should you care about personality type if you are not a psychologist? Because there is tons of data showing which careers each of the 16 Personality Types prefers. And like an interest test, knowing your 4 letter personality type code can point you towards careers which have been proven to be a good fit for people with your type.
Personality type is a good starting point for deciding on one's career. It's not the final deciding factor. It's just a tool to point you in a direction that has been proven to work for others.
I've been using Personality Type long enough that when I get a new career counseling client, I can usually look at their resumé and their 4 letter personality type code and pretty accurately guess what they liked about their jobs and what the disliked. I can see the underlying conflict if they were in the wrong career for their personality type. I can do all that even before I talk to them. I'd say this holds true for about 75% of the coaching clients I talk to.
Knowing about your personality type and how it differs from the personality types of others is one of the best ways to become more self aware, and to learn what careers and what types of work will provide you with job satisfaction.
Here are some of the things you can learn from knowing your 4 letter personality type:
Corporations and organizations use personality type for:
It all starts with discovering which 4 letter personality type fits you the best. We offer two assessments that will help get you started.
Take our free Personality Test (the reports are sold separately), but our assessment will help you figure out what your 4 letter type code is, for free. It will indicate which of the 16 Type Patterns fits you the best, and if your scores are close, it will suggest which other Types might be a fit.
Then, to confirm you have the Best Fit, you can read the descriptions of each type. This is known as the Best Fit Type Method.
On our web site you will find full descriptions of each of the 16 Types written by well known experts in the field including Linda Berens, Ph.D., Dario Nardi, Ph.D., and Fannie R. Linder, Psy.D.
We also offer the industry standard Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) which comes complete with a interpretation session over the phone. Only people who are trained and certified can offer the Myers-Briggs. We are trained and certified to do this.
Your "values" are your core beliefs. Values are the things that you believe are most important to you. Your values are the things you would be willing to fight for. Not that I am suggesting you get violent.
Your values tell you what is right or wrong, good or bad.
Values are at the core of your personality. Some will stay the same throughout your life while other values change over time as you gain more life experiences.
If someone seems to offend you or do something you think is terribly wrong, that is your values talking.
(By the way, your values can be manipulated through advertising, mass media, propaganda, peer pressure, and disinformation.)
To have a great career, and to get along well with others in life, you really want to know what your values are.
For example, here are some of my personal values:
You may not have had the opportunity to discover what your personal values are. So getting to know your values will be exciting.
Our values lie just below our normal level of awareness. Some people know their values very well, while others have not spent much time looking at their values.
The reason we use values in career planning is that job and career satisfaction depend on your values especially the older you become.
When you are just starting your career, values are usually not an issue. 25 year olds are more focused on getting their first career going and achieving some measure of success. Values are usually not an issue at 25.
But as you age, and especially as you pass 35 and approach 40, your values become more important. Then there is a good chance that your place of work, your co-workers, and maybe your boss will be stepping all over your personal values.
For example, take a high level job on Wall Street where outright greed is considered normal. Where making as much money as possible is what is valued regardless of who gets hurt or if the entire world economy gets plunged into recession.
Many people have a value that says you should not do something that hurts a lot of people, or you should not do something that wipes out people's retirement and savings, or you should not do something that causes hundreds of thousands of people to lose their homes through foreclosure.
So if those things bother you, then that is your values talking, and you probably don't want a job on Wall Street.
But some people do not share those values. Some people believe that as long as they win, it does not matter how many other lives get ruined. Their values are all about winning, and taking care of themselves first.
I've once had a career counseling client who told me that all he cared about was making as much money as possible and he didn't care what he had to do. I pointed him towards Wall Street. I thought that would be safer than being a bank robber or a drug dealer. At least no one would get shot.
You will find less extreme examples of conflicting values in the workplace. Perhaps your job requires you to sell a product to someone who really doesn't need it, yet you have to earn your commissions. So you sell to them anyway. That conflict in values will eventually become too much for you to tolerate and you will change jobs.
The best way to start learning what your values are is to use our Career Values Card.
Skills are the ability to perform certain tasks. We all have skills.
The trick is to identify and name your skills.
The more work experience you have, the harder this is. I know several people who do can do so many different things at work, that they are unable to focus on the skills that will make them the most successful and the most satisfied. Thus they spend their time bouncing around and never getting ahead. They are very frustrated by this.
That's what the Knowdell Motivated Skills Card Sort was designed for. It helps you identify your skills.
But it goes way beyond that. It helps you separate out the skills you love using and are good at, from all the other skills you have.
It will show you what your Motivated Skills are (skills you are good at and you enjoy).
It will show you what your Burnout Skills are (skills you are tired of using).
It will show you your Developmental Skills (skills you want to improve).
From this, you can identify your Transferable Skills. These are the skills that you can take from job to job. These are the skills you want to highlight on your resumé (CV).
It's fun and easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes.
This last step is about how you are different and what makes you unique.
If you walked into a room with 99 other people of the same age and gender as you, all randomly selected, how many things can you list where you would be significantly different from them?
Do you have any gifts that stand out that probably would not be found in that room?
Do yo have any work experience the others might not have?
Do you have any special knowledge or abilities those others might not have?
Is there something you are much better at than most people?
For example, you might say:
Knowing how you are different is one of the 5 keys to putting yourself in the best possible career.
Differentiation, or knowing how something is different, is actually a subject that is taught in Marketing 101 classes.
In order to get people to buy a product, marketers focus on identifying how their product is different from all the rest. You promote a product just like you promote yourself by telling people how you are different and how you are better than the others.
You can see differentiation at work if you listen to TV commercials for cars. You will hear marketers describe their cars as: the safest, the fastest, the best fuel efficiency, the most fun to drive, the quietest, the coolest, the most luxurious, the most comfortable etc. It's the same for you. You have to know what makes you different from the rest - those other 99 people in the room.
Now I don't want you to compare yourself to the people you work with, or the people in your class, because if you compare yourself to your co-workers and class mates you will have more things in common than different. Work places and classrooms tend to attract people with the same skills, abilities and knowledge. So for the proper perspective, compare your self to the room of 99 randomly selected strangers.
The "What Makes You Different Worksheet" that follows is free, but you should only do this after you have explored the other tools described above. Those tools will prime the pump - give you insights and ideas about yourself- and prepare you for this exercise.
Click here for the free "What Makes You Different" Worksheet
There you have it. The Top 5 Keys To Achieving Job Satisfaction.
I hope you find this information helpful. I'd love to get your feedback. Just send me an email at:
Here's to your job satisfaction,
Michael T. Robinson
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Myers-Briggs, MBTI, Step I, Step II, and the MBTI logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc.,
Strong Interest Inventory, is a registered trademarks of CPP, Inc.
The CPP logo and Strong logos are registered trademarks of CPP, Inc.
CiT is a registered trademark of CareerPlanner.com Inc.
There is no affiliation between the CiT and CPP. CiT is a product that is wholly owned by CareerPlanner.com Inc.