2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to find a great career to fit your personality — but you may also want to check out our more recent roundup of personality tests and our latest discussion of whether your job is right for you.
Careers and personalities are always a fun topic, and a TON of of different things exist out there to help you pick which career might work best for you. A friend just told me about the StrengthsFinder and of course there are books like What Color is Your Parachute (updated yearly, apparently!), and I know I’ve taken interminably long quizzes that have told me (much to my dismay) that being a lawyer is a great career for me. (Wasn’t there a similar episode of Friends where Chandler finds out he’s a great fit for the job he’s hated all those years?) So I thought it might be fun to have a conversation about it. For those of you happy in your careers — what is the specific mix of personality trait and career characteristic that is a great fit for you? For those of you who’ve been unhappy in your careers, what was/is the mix of personality trait and career characteristic that grated the most? Does anyone swear by a book or test that helped you find your path? For those of you who have been in one career for a while, but hated one job and loved another, what were the job-specific traits that hurt or helped your fit for the job?
For my own $.02, I would say:
– Happy mix: Creative introvert / blogger. I love being able to work by myself to come up with and execute different ideas, and I don’t have a problem either generating ideas or working by myself for long stretches. Another happy mix: Authority questioner/entrepreneur. I love running my own business, in part because I’ve always had that kind of personality that questions authority, particularly when there isn’t a good reason for something. (Of course I now understand that sometimes it IS a good reason that “it’s the system” or “it’s what’s worked for 15 years” or “it’s what I know so that’s what we’re going to do.” I just vastly prefer to be the one making the rules.)
– Unhappy mix: Gray vision / lawyer. I don’t quite know how to describe this, so I’ll call it “gray vision” — that general state of being where some people see black, some people see white, and you see gray. I’d say that characteristic was a huge struggle for me to overcome in any legal argument that I wrote… I was always in awe of people who could argue passionately for their side, even with full knowledge of all the good points the other side had.
Readers, how do your personality traits make you a great fit for your careers?