Discover the Right Type of Job for You

One of the most common barriers to employment is the difficulty of answering the question "What type of job do I want to do?"

Answering this question often requires thought and research. It can be broken down into four other questions:

  • What do I like to do? What gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction?
  • What am I best at? What are my talents? What can I do better than many of the other people I know?
  • What types of jobs are available near where I live, or where I would like to live?
  • How much money do I need to earn right now? How much do different jobs pay, and how secure are they? What potential do they have to pay more in the future?
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When you find a type of job that you enjoy, AND that you could probably do well, AND that you can get to, AND that offers enough pay and security, you will have found your target job. This is where you need to focus your effort.
 Is each of these four questions equally important? No. Their relative importance depends on your situation. For example, if you have very little income right now, then a paycheck will probably be your most important priority. If you don't think you have many skills, then getting some training may be your best option. If you don't have reliable transportation of your own, then you may want to focus on jobs or training opportunities that are near public transportation routes, or where you could share transportation with others. Also, remember that everyone's situation changes over time, and your decision to target one type of job now doesn't mean that you can't pursue different opportunities in the future.
Is there a perfect type of job for every individual? No. Very few things in this world are perfect. Almost every job will have advantages and disadvantages. Even people who love their jobs will admit that they sometimes feel frustrated or bored at work. Don't set your sights on finding a perfect job. 
Try this instead: Rather than thinking about finding a perfect job, think about building a better life. A good job can be one of your best tools for this. It will not just provide income for you, your family, and your future. It will also be one of the main ways you get to know other people, contribute to your community, and make the world a little bit better.

Should you target only one type of job? Not necessarily. Your talents and skills can probably be useful in several types of jobs. Don't spread yourself too thin, but don't overlook opportunities that you may not even know about yet. Focus your efforts, but don't be afraid to broaden your horizons or change course if appropriate.

Where can you find more information about how well different jobs might fit you? Your job counselors can help with this, but you can also research it yourself. A good place to start is My Next Move, a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor. You can find more self-assessment tools, as well as information on jobs in Pitt County, at NCWorks Online, a site sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Another good resource is ESMI Career Coach, a website sponsored by Pitt Community College.

There is one more very important thing to keep in mind: grit.

Grit is persistence and commitment over the long term. It is essential to completing a training program, getting a job, being successful, and eventually moving on to a better job or other goals.

Grit also involves being willing to risk failure. And here's something else to keep in mind: If you risk failure long enough, you will undoubtedly experience failure. But it doesn't have to be permanent failure.

The key to success is to keep coming back from the failures you will experience along the way to your goal. Get up each morning and  whether yesterday was good or bad keep moving toward your target.

Click here for a print-friendly copy of Discover the Right Type of Job for You (PDF).
Click here for an extended audio interview with Professor Angela Duckworth on Freakonomics Radio. Would you like to find out how much grit you have? A good place to start is Professor Duckworth's quiz. And if you would like to get a little more gritty, here are some tips.
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