The Working Life: Finding the Work You Love

  • In this blog entry, I'll continue the focus on employment, giving you Internet links to career search resources. Two days ago, I read that up to 50 percent of people are unhappy with their jobs. To spare you that fate, and to increase the odds of your recovery, I'll give ideas on how to find the work you love.


    Twenty years ago when I lived in the halfway house, one of the counselors led an afternoon goals group and at one session, he gave us the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a shorthand substitute for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Both tests determine your personality type. I learned, early in life then, that I'm an INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging. INTJs comprise only about one percent of the population. Taking the MBTI-which can only be administered by a licensed professional-in 1996 confirmed this is me, there's no way around it, my personality type is accurate.

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    The best thing about knowing your personality type is that you'll understand what makes you tick. Certain personalities are better suited to some careers than others. Also, in terms of relationships and your orientation to life, reading about your type could help you develop strategies for living well in recovery. Luckily, you don't have to pay for the MBTI-at least three web sites offer personality type tests for free. Any of these will do, though I prefer the Temperament Sorter: http://www.advisorteam.org/instruments/KTS-II_original.html. Its counterpart is the www.keirsey.com site. You can take similar tests at: http://www.personalitytype.com/quiz.asp and http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp.


    To find a short list of possible careers matched to your type, log on to http://www.bsu.edu/students/careers/questassets/type/. Or search, for example as I did, in Google, "INTJ careers" using your own type instead of INTJ.


    Alternately, log on to http://www.bls.gov/OCO/, where the current version of the Occupational Outlook Handbook resides. Click on the letter corresponding to the job you're interested in, and you'll get tons of information. [I printed out the listing for rehabilitation counselor.] Once you've found a possible career or two [or however many], consider doing an "information interview" with a person already in the field who can help you decide if you'd like to pursue it. For a list of questions to ask this person, log on to http://www.quintcareers.com/information_interview.html. The purpose of this type of interview is to gather information, not for you to interview for a job, so the pressure is off. Take discreet notes; although it's preferable to ask if you can use a small voice recorder so you can maintain eye contact and an uninterrupted dialogue.


    Once you find in the Occupational Outlook Handbook a few careers, you can use O*NET Online to further refine your search, by typing in http://online.onetcenter.org/. There, you can find occupations, do a skills search to match your skills to O*NET occupations, perform a crosswalk search, or do a "tools and technology" search. At the Outlook site, I found the SOC code for rehabilitation counselor, and then did a crosswalk search at O*NET, under the SOC, to discover more details about this type of work. The Outlook and O*NET sites give you the types of demand for various jobs, their salaries, and skills and abilities needed to perform the work.


  • Another useful, on-target assessment tool I used is the Kolbe A Index, located at www.kolbe.com. It costs $59 payable via credit card online, so if you're interested in taking the profile and don't have a credit card, ask someone if you can borrow theirs and pay them. I like the Kolbe not only because it's an accurate tool: I like it because it's life-affirming and validates you for who you are, so it draws on your strengths, not any kind of disability.

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    Through Kolbe, I found out my natural advantage is that of an Entrepreneur. I'm a "Quick Start." An Entrepreneur's conative creativity is in "managing innovation and intuiting practical alternatives." Indeed, one of the career paths that others with my Entrepreneur MO [mode of operation] find success in is that of therapist. It also suggested I'd make a good radio interviewer.


    So, on a rainy day, if you have fifty bucks and want to tootle around in the area of self-discovery, it could be fun to take the Kolbe A Index and see yourself in a positive light.


    The ultimate goal of finding the work you love is that you have something to do that gets you excited to wake up in the morning. A classic book about the personality types is Do What You Are, a career exploration guide. Though the Kolbe A also listed insurance agent for me as a possible choice, I tried that and it didn't work out. Also both INTJs and Entrepreneurs would make good trial attorneys, and obviously that doesn't mean I'm going to get a JD and practice law.


    You alone know what you can and can't do, though sometimes it takes trial-and-error to find the best match. As I said in an early blog entry, the first job you get won't necessarily be the only job you have until you retire. It could be a "starter job" that leads you into a better one. In all of this talk on the working life, I want to make one thing clear. I'm going to tell you the sure-fire way to know if you're in the right line of work. The secret to success is follow-through. On any job, your employer will expect you to take initiative to start projects, follow through on getting them done, and apprise your boss of the results. If you're weak in follow-through, you have to ask yourself if it's because you're miserable at your job, and aren't motivated to complete tasks, or whether it's simply not your strong suit. Developing this trait is the number one skill you could bring to the table.


    When you find the work you love, the time goes by quickly on most days. The key to remember is to do the job to the best of your ability, and take pride in your work. If you paint people's houses, paint them as if you're creating a masterpiece on the walls of the Sistine Chapel.


    In a blog entry at the end of this campaign, I'll talk about volunteer work and unpaid opportunities to do well in your recovery. The second entry this week will be "On the Job: Library Worker," so stay tuned. Other entries in this series will be "On the Job: Peer Advocate," college opportunities for people with psychiatric conditions, and lastly, "The Job of Recovery." I enjoy reading your comments and I'm glad you're getting something out of what I write.

Published On: November 25, 2008