What’s the secret to career satisfaction? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not doing what you love. You probably love drinking cocktails, eating chocolate and having sex, but it’s unlikely (not to mention inadvisable) that you will do these things for a living.
Doing what you love is great, but to really hit the career sweet spot, you need to do what you are. Researchers at the University of Zurich found that matching your own signature strengths to a job vastly improves your sense of pleasure, purpose and calling. But how do you know which way the river is flowing? You start by following these personality clues.
You have a vivid imagination
Some may call you artistic, while others may accuse you of being a dreamer. But having a vivid imagination means that you are big on ideas and are not afraid to push boundaries even if your ideas seem silly. Your ideal job involves working creatively with “big” concepts rather than completing structured tasks.
Creative people exist in all realms, including the arts, design, science and business strategy. They may be happy working with designs, forms, words, numbers or patterns. The important point is that, as a creator, you easily adapt to new situations and love coming up with new ideas. Ideally, you would work for a company where no rule book exists and where you were not forced to get something done every day.
Example jobs include: Visual artist, designer, writer, architect, management analyst, music producer, hair stylist, training consultant, advertising, public relations.
You have the gift of the gab
Some people have the knack of getting other people to do exactly what they want. Influencing, negotiating, communicating, storytelling—if these things are second nature to you, you will love a job that focuses around persuading other people to do something, buy something, or support your cause.
Persuaders are achievement-oriented personality types. This means that you value winning. Your dream job is one that allows you to not only lead and influence people, but also to easily measure the results of your actions. Gaining public recognition for your skills wouldn’t hurt, either.
Example jobs include: political lobbying, marketing, sales, recruitment, fundraising, real estate agency, event management, public speaking.
You drop everything to help others
Most of us are a bit egocentric but some people are naturally selfless when it comes to helping others out in their time of need. If you happily volunteer to rub your friend’s back while they are being sick in the toilet, you possess a caring personality. You love supporting people and really care about how others are feeling.
As a modern day Florence Nightingale, you’d rather work with people than with data or machines. A job with human interaction plays to your strengths. And, as you care immensely about the well being and development of the people around you, a job that allows you to nurture others over a long period will deliver the most satisfaction.
Example jobs include: teacher, nurse, therapist, life coach, social worker, career coach, psychologist, not-for-profit fundraiser, personal trainer.
You’re a natural problem-solver
Numbers. Data. Analysis. If you love digging deep into the facts and have a knack for making 1+1=2, then you are a natural investigator. Congratulations! Some of the highest paid careers value these skills.
As an investigator, you prefer to use logic over imagination to solve problems. You value precision and research and you pay extreme attention to detail. You’re not fazed by large volumes of data. In fact, sorting through the minutiae that bamboozles other people is your strong point. Friends and co-workers might call you a geek, but they envy you because you just “get” it.
Example jobs include: Statistician, research scientist, stockbroker, quality control, accountant, investigative journalist, lawyer, bookkeeper, health and safety officer, procurement specialist.
You keep it real
True to their name, realists are down-to-earth types who value tried-and-tested systems, solutions and results. They value achievements over social affiliation and have a tremendous amount of self-control. If you are a realist, you likely are lost at sea without order and predictability in your life.
You may like working with your hands or you may prefer cerebral pursuits. Either way, you value procedures, schedules and routines over nebulous concepts such as ideas. You panic when projects arrive late and will work like a dog to hit deadlines. You have no time for flightiness. Others might call you controlling but you, above all the personality types, get stuff done.
Example jobs include: actuary, construction worker, financial planner, technical author, engineer, orthodontist, fire fighter, law enforcement, aircraft pilot.
Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment and other scientifically validated, user-friendly personality assessments that connect people with powerful insights about their strengths, talents, and traits. Find Molly and Truity on Twitter and Facebook.