4 Ways to find a job you’ll enjoy after graduation (or anytime)
Graduation is looming in the coming months, and you're excited. But probably also a little freaked out.
“The world is your oyster,” they say. A phrase that's supposed to convey endless opportunities and maybe even a few pearls. But ironically they forgot to mention that oysters are also hard to pry open. In fact you usually need a special tool to get into that oyster in the first place.
While finishing your schooling days can be exciting (no more homework...ever!), it can also be stressful for many students who find themselves wondering what to do next.
You could find a job, but what you really have your eye in is a career. Something you could do everyday and enjoy most of those days. Because as Mark Twain famously said, “find a job you enjoy doing, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
But how do you find that career you’ll love? Here’re 4 strategies to discover a career you’ll really enjoy:
1. Figure out, and write down, your values
Knowing and writing down your values can be an extremely helpful tool for determining the best and most fulfilling direction for your career. So what are personal values? I asked my father (ISTJ retired engineer, mid 60's) this question and he said, "how much you're worth as a person?"
Personal values are defined as “broad desirable goals that motivate people’s actions and serve as guiding principles in their lives".1
There’re many ways of discovering your values (just Google it!), but the one outlined below specifically incorporates your MBTI personality type.
The middle two letters of your four-letter MBTI type describe what you most value, and represent the core of who you are. Check the two-letter combination below that matches your MBTI preferences and write down the words that resonate with you as something you value:
ST (ESTJ, ESTP, ISTJ, ISTP)
Getting it right, accuracy, precision, efficiency, pragmatic use of details
SF (ESFJ, ESFP, ISFJ, ISFP)
Providing practical service to others, making people’s lives better in concrete ways
NF (ENFJ, ENFP, INFJ, INFP)
Making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, helping people to fulfill their potential
NT (ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, INTP)
Developing global systems, mastering knowledge, high standards of competence
If you don’t know your MBTI personality type, check out MBTIonline Careers. It will give you your official, research-backed MBTI personality type along with a TON of information about your ideal career.
Or, look at the above words and write down the ones that resonate with you from any of the above 4 groups. Knowing your MBTI personality type is certainly helpful in self-awareness and choosing a career, but you can still find a great career you love without knowing it.
Next check out this list of values and follow the instructions.
Lastly, combine the lists from your MBTI type with the above until you have 3-8 values that are the most important to you.
Then, answer these 3 questions:
• What is most important to you about work?
• What do you value most about what you do?
• What do you want to accomplish through your work?
2. Try a 3-way occupational Venn diagram
One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten from a career coach was to make a 3-way Venn diagram to find my ideal careers. In one circle, you write “things I’m skilled at”, and then add some of the talents or skills you think you have. If you get a little stuck here, reach out to parents, friends, coworkers or others who know you well or have worked with you before. Often, they’ll come up with things that you’re good at that you might not have thought of yourself.
In the second circle, write “things I like to do.” This could be anything that you enjoy doing – whether it’s work related or not. Basically it’s things that you’re interested in doing, or would like to do if money and time weren’t holding you back.
In the third circle, write “things someone will pay me for.” This one can be a little tricky, but think about jobs you’ve had in the past or volunteering that you’ve done where someone has used your help. It could be something small like mowing the grass, or something bigger like helping a friend code an app.
Next, look at each of the intersections of two of each of the circles:
- Things I like to do + things I’m skilled at
- Things I like to do + things someone will pay me for
- Things I’m skilled at + things someone will pay me for
Write down any careers or jobs that come to find for these intersections. For example, if you’re skilled at cooking and you enjoy planning parties, maybe you’d enjoy a job working for a catering company? Or if you enjoy video games and you’re skilled at finding mistakes, perhaps a job testing software is right up your alley?
Lastly, look at the intersections of all three of these circles. Are there jobs or careers that would fit into all three of these circles?
If you get stuck at the intersections or at the intersection of all three, share what you’ve written down in each circle with someone who knows you well, preferably someone who’s been in the workforce for at least a few years. Often one of the reasons we don’t think about a certain career is just that we didn’t know it existed.
For example, I enjoy dessert. Eating it, learning about new kinds of treats, and making it. I’m not a 'foodie' but really a 'dessert-y'. I’m also a decent writer (skilled at writing) have some skills in using graphic design programs (Adobe Photoshop specifically). And I know that there are jobs that will pay me to write or do graphic design.
So when I was looking for a job during the summers in college, I was telling lots of people I knew about this Venn diagram of careers. And it happened that someone I talked to knew a friend of a friend who was starting an alcoholic ice cream business.
Word got back to me and for that summer and then part time the rest of the year, I worked as a sales and marketing intern writing emails, designing flyers, and setting up tables at festivals and in fancy grocery stores to tell people about this new alcoholic ice cream company (and of course letting them try the product if they were over 21).
I would never thought of combining my love of dessert with what I now know are marketing skills, or known that a job like that was even available until I started sharing my Venn diagram with people and getting their thoughts and suggestions.
Side note: Most people are happy to help others when it comes to sharing their knowledge or opinions. Make a goal for yourself to share your Venn diagram with at least 5 working people and get their feedback! And speaking of “getting by with a little help from your friends”…
3. Use your network
Most people are happy to help others. And you probably don’t realize how big your network actually is. Reach out to your network and talk to people about the fact that you’re looking for a career. And if you really don’t know how to start, bring them or send them a picture of the Venn diagram you made and ask what they think about it.
Who’re the people you could reach out to in your network?
• Parent’s friends
• Family friends
• Relatives and extended family
• People who graduated from the same school before you
• People who graduated from the same school who’re currently working in an area you’re interested in learning more about
• School counselors and career counselors
• Friend’s parents
• Teachers and professors
• Sibling’s friend’s parents
• Grandparents’ friends
Often, the people who’ll be able to help you aren’t those who’re immediately close to you.
Sometimes it’s someone who’s once or twice removed from your immediate connection who’ll have the perfect tip for you (like your sibling’s friend’s parent who works in a career that you’re curious about).
Again, here’s where goal-setting can help. If you’re not a naturally extraverted person and talking to people drains you, try mixing your in-person chats with written communication (like emails or texts).
Though many people have learned to flex their preferences toward extraversion even if they prefer Introversion, it doesn’t mean they don’t prefer written communication still to in-person communication.
4. Try MBTIonline Careers
Choosing your career is an important life decision, considering the average adult spends 13 full years of their life at work over the course of their lifetime. In addition, you’re more likely to perform better in a career you’re satisfied with.
MBTIonline Careers uses hundreds of thousands of data points pulled into a proprietary algorithm to match you to best-fit occupations based on your MBTI results and predicts your satisfaction in those careers.
You can read my first-hand experience with MBTIonline Careers here.
“MBTIonline Careers is ideal for both those looking into their first job or for a career change,” says Dr. Rich Thompson, Sr. Director of Research at The Myers-Briggs Company.
“It draws on data from over 500,000 employed adults to predict the likelihood of a person being satisfied in an occupation. The results give people clarity and precision around how well their personality will contribute to being satisfied in over 300 different specific occupations, and over 1000 related occupations.”
Learn more about MBTIonline Careers here.
1. Sagiv L, Roccas S, Cieciuch J, Schwartz SH. Personal values in human life. Nature Human Behaviour. 2017 Sep;1(9):630