Choosing the right job is a challenge. And it should be. The decision will have a significant impact on the rest of your life.
You’ll get plenty of advice about doing what you love and following your passion, but the decision needs to be practical as well. Here are a few psychology-based tips for finding the right job.
The Right Mindset for the Right Job
With happiness and passion somewhere in the back of the plan, look for a career that matches your values and skills. Even more so, according to Heidi Grant Halvorson, a psychologist and author that’s written about looking for the right job, you want to choose a job that’s motivational. According to Dr. Halvorson, there are two distinct types of thinking for finding the job that motivates you:
1. Promotion Focused
While this should be a common goal for anyone looking at the right job, there are individuals that want and seek out positions with the potential for advancement and rewards. These people tend to share traits such as being creative and innovative. Always looking for alternatives and options, they have no fear of risk, gladly leaping at opportunities to get ahead. Unfortunately, the promotion-focused individual is more likely to regret their actions, being overly confident about their options.
These individuals are more concerned with job security. They like the idea of getting up every day and going to work, taking comfort in having a job. These individuals aren’t interested in rocking the boat and aren’t necessarily looking to climb the ladder. They work hard and fulfill their responsibilities. They tend to be thorough, reliable, and good at anticipating problems. Their analytical thinking fuels reasoning and attention to detail. On the other hand, prevention-focused worker will be rigid and leery of change. They may even work slower than most.
Understanding where you fall in the two categories above will help you evaluate what may be the right job for you. Different careers are going to require different motivations. Even different positions in different organizations are going to require different degrees of motivation. People are more likely to accept a fit that works with their levels of motivation—it leads to better productivity and value of work.
Looking for the Right Job
Once you’ve established whether you’re on the promotional or preventative side, you have a better chance of finding a job that’s going to suit you and your lifestyle.
Promotion-focused individuals should be looking at jobs that promise growth and advancement. You want a challenging position that expects quick thinking and a daring attitude. A role that’s as fast paced as you are. The tech industry is a good example. It’s a field that’s growing and changing all the time, and hard work can lead to incredible reward.
Prevention-focused workers want jobs that are stable. Where plans don’t necessarily fall apart and, when they do, contingencies are already in place. Dr. Halvorson suggests getting into the data industry or becoming an accountant or contract lawyer—fields that are always going to be needed.
These individuals—looking for independence—fall somewhere in between promotion and prevention focus. They’ll need the courage to throw themselves into risky ventures, yet have the wherewithal to know when to step carefully. It’s probably best that if you’re entrepreneurial, you have a good ear that’s the opposite of your promotional or preventive thinking. This way you balance each other out.
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