By Ryan Mack
I remember my second year in college, and about my third intended major change, my dad asked me if any of my advisers had given me a copy of the book, What Color is Your Parachute (a.k.a...the job-hunter's bible).
I remember thinking at the time how stupid that sounded. All I was interested in was finding a major that wasn't too difficult, didn't interrupt my "extracurricular" activities, and provided me with a good salary after graduation.
It wasn't until many years later - in one of many unhappy jobs - that I realized the value of the book. Sure, employability and salary potential are important in your career search - but even more so is finding a position that is a true fit for your passions, interest, and personality.
Choosing a career that is not a fit for your personality is likely to leave you feeling unhappy and apathetic. If you don't know yourself as well as you'd like to, there are a variety of personality assessment tests such as Myers-Briggs available to help you identify your personality type. Assessments like the Myers Briggs can help you to determine what careers are a good fit for your personality type. If you aren't into assessments and feel you have a good understanding of yourself already, resources like the U.S. News Best Careers guide offers six general types of people and the types of jobs most likely to suit them.
If you are like most job seekers, chances are you have already completed as much education as you would like to for the foreseeable future - and have already started down what you may feel is a path of no return.
Rest assured, this is not the case. If you feel like I did, and have been in one unhappy job after another, chances are your personality is not best suited for your current line of work. Much like the trend of multiple marriages, these days people are finding themselves with multiple careers.
Perhaps your interests have changed or you have had a family or your lifestyle has changed. Maybe even your personality has changed. Whatever the case, the following three steps can help you make a career change before landing in another position that drains your spirit and your desire to succeed.
1. Know thyself. Socrates said it best. If you want to find a career that is motivating, inspiring, and moves you to succeed, you have to know what careers are best for your personality, personal life, and talents. Using resources such as What Color is Your Parachute or an online app can help you determine where to start your search.
2. Research, research, research. Once you have a better idea of your options, you can begin to research those that may actually be a fit. Chances are, greater than not, your career change will require additional education, experience, or training. Be sure you have a firm understanding of your potential profession and whether it is projected to grow. The Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good tool for anticipated earnings, job details, and employment outlook.
3. Gradual or radical. Once you've determined what careers are a better fit for you, plan your approach. Because some careers may require additional education, training or certifications, you may need to make a more gradual approach finding a job where you can gain relevant experience while pursuing the required education. A more radical, but safe approach may be to find opportunities with your current employer to change your career trajectory. Either way, making a big career change for the betterment of yourself in the long run, is worth the time and effort.
Speak Out: What led you to realize your personality wasn't a match for your career?
Ryan Mack is a partner at TruYuu, an online service that helps people present themselves as more than just a resume to employers. You can connect with Ryan and the TruYuu team on Facebook and Twitter.