Finding the job that makes your heart sing

By Barbara Poole, a master-certified coach and president of Success Builders, Inc.

Q: I feel like I’m at a crossroads and I’d like to take this opportunity to find a job I really want the next time around. But that’s just the problem: I don’t know what I want. How can I figure this out?

A: There’s a silver lining to the clouds in the current job market. When jobs are plentiful and people find themselves in transition, they often go immediately back into a similar job in the same industry, the only real change being a new employer. While it can make for a fast and efficient job search, it can also lead to feeling unfulfilled, and that nagging sense of “more of the same.”

In today’s economy, finding your next position can be a bit more challenging. There’s no obvious “next assignment,” and the process of finding a new job takes longer. Although it can feel like a scary time, it can actually be a great opportunity to consider what you really want, and redirect your efforts to finding a job that will truly make your heart sing.

Many people operate under the misguided notion that there is one “right thing” out there that they should be doing, if only they could figure out what it is. In reality, for most of us there are plenty of things that we could do well and really enjoy. The trick is to do some good matching along a number of important dimensions that will have you headed in the direction of a good fit for you.

Start by considering what you are gifted at. Sometimes it’s hard to identify your natural abilities because you don’t have to think about them — they come effortlessly to you. Maybe you’re a born organizer; or perhaps you’re a great conversationalist. Your natural abilities are those strengths that are simply a part of who you are — you were born good at them and you would enjoy using them on the job.

Next, think about your interests. What do you find stimulating and compelling? If you want some easy clues, consider the subject matter in the magazines you subscribe to. Cooking magazines? Fashion? Science and technology? Notice what captures your attention.

What is your personality style? Are you gregarious and outgoing, or are you more reserved and quiet? Your personal style is an important clue to career possibilities.

What do you care deeply about? Your passions reflect your core values, and having a job that reinforces them will be fulfilling and satisfying.

Finally, consider how you like to work. Some people thrive on being in one place in front of a computer screen. Others need to be in motion, out and about, or they can feel caged in. Do you enjoy dressing to the nines in a business suit? Or is casual wear more your cup of tea?

By assembling these clues like a jigsaw puzzle, you can begin to see pictures emerging of the kinds of jobs you might really enjoy. Then it’s time to get busy converting these possibilities into action.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post & Courier on Friday, August 7, 2009

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