How to Choose a Career That’s Right For You

Career Advice red door

Most of us are asked, at some point, to provide career advice.  We listen to what someone has achieved, what they are doing now, and what they would like to accomplish.  We then pass along some ideas for thing they may not have considered that will help them achieve their goal. Those of us who have been around awhile are glad to do it.  It is a privilege to be asked.

Have you ever been asked to help someone figure out what kind of career they should pursue? Helping someone figure out what to do with their life is a fairly hefty responsibility.  Here is a framework for providing this kind of serious career help.

Know Yourself

Before someone can wisely pick a career or begin to capitalize on specific strengths and mitigate weaknesses, they need to identify what those strengths and weaknesses are.  They have to know who they are and what they have to offer the workplace.  For example, are they an extrovert or an introvert?  Rather than go through every possible individual personality trait, have the person go online and take a personality test.  The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) works quite well for this exercise.  According to Wikipedia, the MBTI is “an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.”  There are many websites that offer free MBTI tests.  The tests do not take very long, and it would be best to take two or three different tests from different web sites.  Once the test has been taken, the end result is a four letter indicator of personality type.

Buy In

This all may seem strange to the person seeking career advice, but encourage them to do it.  Have them determine which of the MBTI 16 personality types they are.  Each type is designated by 4 letters that represent their personality type.

E – Extroversion

S – Sensing

T – Thinking

J – Judgment

I – Introversion

N – Intuition

F – Feeling

P – Perception

Career Research

Once personality type is identified, have them do a web search on that personality type.  For each of the 16 personality types, there are numerous pages that explain the pros and cons of that personality.  Have them read through some of these and they will have an incredible window into how they think and act, and why they have inclinations to think and act the way that they do.  Have them identify something about their personality that they have not realized before, but believe to be accurate.  Ask them what their strengths and weaknesses are.  All of this is buy-in and embracing who they are.

Now, having identified their personality type and the strengths, weaknesses, and inclinations of that type, it is time to begin looking at possible careers.  Once again, a quick internet search of the MBTI type and “careers” will reveal a plethora of possibilities that can then be researched further.  Experiment with searches such as MBTI type and “military jobs” or “degree programs.”  Even MBTI type and “jobs to avoid.”  This is an interesting area of science and more information is made available every year.  Have the seeker narrow their search down to the top 3-5 career choices.  Now the research is into the steps required to obtain a position in that field, including what degree, certifications, or experience is needed.

From A to B

It is as simple as that.  It is difficult to decide where to go, let alone how to get there, if you do not know your starting point.  The starting point for the career seeker is who they are and the unique set of skills and inherent abilities that they have to offer the professional marketplace and the world.  We are all different, and thankfully so.  It is this combination of strengths that make great teams, able to accomplish mission and business objectives alike.

Todd Keys is a Program Manager at Cantada, Inc. He has been in the intelligence Community for 30 years, as a member of the military (USAF), and as a contractor for top 100, top 10, and small business federal defense contractors. He has held multiple roles, CONUS and OCONUS, ranging from technician to executive, providing site O&M, system administration, engineering, supervision, contract management, and Capture/BD for the DoD and multiple intelligence agencies.