What Job Suits Me? – Reality Testing Is The Answer

So you are not happy in your current job/career and have finally reached a point where you decided to make a career change. You also have a few alternative job/career options in mind but are not sure whether they will be right for you and if they will meet your expectations. What next?

What job suits me?  – Reducing uncertainty is the key

It is natural and very common for people to feel uncertain at this stage, which causes them to get stuck and not move forward with their career change plans. Even if they have a good idea of what they want from a job and have shortlisted a few matching/ideal options, it is hard to make the leap because they have no way of relating to the career options they selected. Without having done the actual job, it is hard to really know what it will be like and no matter how much you research on the internet or in the library, it is all too theoretical.

The best way to know what what job suits you, is by doing the actual work involved. However, this is not a very feasible and practical option, since you cannot be employed in and try-out all the jobs you have shortlisted. Therefore the solution is to go for the next best option, in order to get a first-hand feel of what a job is really like. This can be done by ‘reality testing’, which involves conducting small/low risk experiments to get a better idea of potential career options. Reality testing takes you beyond introspection and theoretical research, into an action mode, which is very beneficial. It moves you from saying ‘I think I might like this job’ closer to ‘I know I will like this job’. Some ways in which you can reality test are:

  • Internships: Work in the job for a few months
  • Job shadowing: Tag along with someone who does the job you want, for a day/week
  • Volunteering: Offer your services for free for a short period of time (part-time especially)
  • Projects: Take on projects (in your current job or outside) which have aspects/elements of the type of work you want
  • Joining relevant clubs, associations: To meet people and take part in activities which are closely related to your job target
  • Participating in workshops, courses and seminars: Again, in order to learn more about your job target and meet people who know more about it
  • Just meeting people for a chat: It is also very useful to meet people who are actually doing (or have done) the job you are interested in. You can ask them questions to confirm if the job is really what you expect it to be

By going a step further and ‘reality testing’ your career options, you will get rid of a lot of uncertainly/ambiguity, be more certain of your choices and finally know the answer to that nagging question – What job suits me?

Protean and Boundaryless careers

Two trends have changed the world of work in many ways. The first is the shift towards a knowledge based economy that many countries are seeing and the second is global connectivity, interdependence and integration. The new career context that is emerging as a result of these trends has given rise to the terms – Protean and Boundaryless careers.

Protean careers

Companies are operating in a more complex (knowledge-based/global) environment, which is constantly changing. They need to be flexible and nimble in order to stay in business and hence many companies have given-up the idea of keeping employees for a lifetime. By doing, so they have transferred the responsibility and risk of managing careers to the individual. So in order to survive this change, individuals need to become more self-reliant in managing their careers. This means knowing what they want from their careers, developing the skills/knowledge/network that is necessary to achieve their goals and being able to ‘change with change’.

Hence the term Protean career, the origin of of which comes from Proteus, a Greek sea-god who could change in form as the situation demanded. A more formal definition is provided below:

“The protean career is driven by the person, not the organization, based on individually defined goals, encompassing the whole life space, and being driven by psychological success (rather than) objective measures of success such as pay, rank or power. It is a career in which the person is (1) values driven in the sense that the individual’s personal values provide the guidance and measure of success for the individual’s career, and (2) self-directed in personal career management—having the ability to be adaptive in performance and learning demands.”

Boundaryless careers Continue reading “Protean and Boundaryless careers”