Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Who Am I?" How I help clients find a career...and themselves

Today, a career counseling client started our first session by asking me, “How do I know who I am?”

As my contribution today, I offer a fleshed-out version of my answer.


Return of Shawn said...

Hi Marty,

Maybe you or your readers will find my experiences interesting.

I’m 35, and have worked a lot of different jobs since graduating). My jobs have been in sales. There’s basically 2 types of sales, the type where the customer comes to you and the type where you go out (or call) the customer. The first type isn’t so bad, and is commonly found in retail settings. The prospective customer will come up to you to ask questions. They want to talk with you, and you talk positively about your product and push it somewhat, but don’t necessarily get the rejection at the end, because you don’t always have to ask for the sale. Basically you just answer their questions. As everyone knows retail sales pays little, though, but it is easy and doesn’t involve a lot of stress.

The other type sucks because you have to go out business to business (or telemarket) and talk with people who, 95% of the time, don’t want to talk with you. And at times you have to push, try to find out who the decision maker is (after talking with the secretary) and then call him. It’s all a numbers game, and all the tiny rejections ad up and for me, and I presume others, it have negative consequences on the psyche and makes people a bit psychologically abnormal, even after leaving the workplace. There’s a big turnover in sales.

My other jobs have been in the field of procurement. I worked in the private sector at a small business. I also worked for a large city government and then state government. I had to quit because it was so boring, and I hated sitting at a desk all day typing stuff that was very boring. I don’t want to type all day. It’s horrible. I had to quit.

Most people have a hard time knowing what a job is like until they actually try it. How can any high school senior really know? Through trial I gradually discovered what I dislike the least versus like the most, because all jobs are a drag if you have no choice but to do them each day. Generally speaking, the most enjoyable jobs pay the least and require little responsibility. For example, I would love being a clerk at a small bookstore. Low stress, I could read in down time, and I could talk with people who wanted to talk with me. I worked at Sunglass Hut in college (they usually had only one person working at a time) and when no one was in the store I could read magazines or books all day. It was great!

When I stared my work life post college, I had my priorities wrong. I was too focused on trying to get money rather than doing something that didn’t feel like a lot of work and was somewhat enjoyable, after all, we spend most of our waking time at work. *Many people don’t even know what jobs are out there that they would like more.* I was in that position, and now, going forward, I regret earning my MBA along with pretty much my whole career track.

I started being a paraprofessional substitute, because I was unemployed at a family member did that. It was easy and it did not feel like work (my most important criteria) and I discovered that based on my criterion, education was the best field for me. Being a para pays nothing though, and now I am a substitute who will be pursuing teacher cert. For me at least, being a sub teacher is really easy, and I know being a teacher won’t be all that more of a drag. The BLS stats & 'day in the life' videos helps a lot.

Here was my list of what I did not want in a job and what I did want:

I do not like:
– desk jobs
– prospecting or jobs with rejection
– jobs that require heavy thought on the job
– Dealing with bodily fluids and gore

– I want a job that does not feel like work
– I like relaxed, low stress jobs
– I like to help people
– I like a certain job security and at least middle class pay

Based on my criteria, here are some jobs I decided I would like along with notes:

Teacher – Special ed or other high demand field

Librarian – no jobs

Forester- it might be hard being outside all the time especially when older. Progression in the field means having a desk job

Pharmacist – no jobs, hard to get in Pharma school

Return of Shawn said...

Have you ever had a client like me?

Marty Nemko said...

Indeed, lack of drive is a central inhibiting factor in people's career and life satisfaction. I've written about that here: If you think that working with me might be additionally helpful, email me at