What type of work are you looking for?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That is a question every child is asked at least once during the formative years, but it is a very good one. This question is the child-friendly version of, “What type of work are you looking for?”. It’s a question you need to understand clearly before answering. You spend two-thirds of your waking hours working: you see your employer and co-workers more often than friends and family so it makes sense to choose wisely.

Saying “I’m willing to do any sort of work” or “anything that will pay the bills” is not the right approach. Sure, times are tough so you can’t be picky, and you need to have money to pay for things, but that’s not how to decide your future employment.

Making a list of your hobbies and interests is a good start. After all, if you enjoy doing something as a hobby, why not get paid for it? For example, if you like assembling computers, maintaining your own private cloud, or even play console video games, perhaps the information technology field is right up your alley. If you like to sing, write poetry or fan-fiction for your favourite television series, or sketch, this leans toward to artistic creative side that marketing or digital multimedia can continue as a career choice.

Next comes identifying your personality traits that will further help find that employment fit. Are you a person who enjoys the company of others and is a team-player, or are you someone who likes to keep people at arm’s-length and on a professional keel? Are you a born-leader who has no trouble leading the pack or someone who prefers to work on the sidelines in a supportive capacity? Does following a rote or script in safe predictability and clockwork order every day sound like your dream work environment, or is that boring? Would doing something different every day and in a different location sound more your speed? Are you a Type A personality where work is life, and you constantly set the bar of excellent higher and higher with every effort? No? How about a work life balance follower, doing your best during the workday, but are ready to kick back, have fun, and forget about work once the weekend rolls around?

When considering what type of job you want, also ask yourself if you’re the type of person who likes to work with your hands, because if so construction and the trades might be just for you. It’s hard work, but it is also a field in great demand that pays very well. If, however, you shrink away at the slightest sight of dirt, dust and grime and like to solve the problems with your head, then this might not be for you. There are specialized technical, scientific, and academic jobs that might fit the thinker in you, but understand it’s a considerable investment in education not to just get started, but keep up to date. This type of work would be great for those who like to constantly learn new things.

The recent economic and technological shake-up over the past two decades have lead to changes in both workplace mobility and the types of organizational structure in business. Do you like to have your own workspace, a desk and filing cabinet that is yours and yours alone, or are you fine with going to a rent-a-office environment or even working from a home office? On that particular option, be aware it is not as easy as it sounds. While telecommuting removes the problematic morning and evening commute grind, it takes more discipline to keep motivated and meet your employer’s assigned deadlines. Do you like to work for a company that demands a rigid yet logical procedure (found mostly in large multi-national corporations) or small start-ups that fly by the collective seats of the pants of those who work there? How does starting your own SOHO sound and be your own boss? Do you want to be a full-time employee or a consultant-for-hire brought in for special projects?

The aforementioned changes recently mentioned also involve the question of the willingness to travel. Do you want a job that involves a lot of travel. While the airline industry does come to mind when describing a job that involves a lot of travel, the consultant option previously mentioned also requires a great deal of travel. If you are a parent that likes to spend time with your children and watch them grow up, the amount of travel you are willing to do must be defined.

A final consideration is that jobs come and go based on the changing business climate and future technological advancements. The switchboard operator gave way to the automated telephone system. Postal services around the world now face an uncertain future with the shift to Email. Self-serve kiosks allow consumers to pay for their purchases instead of waiting in line at the cashier line. Be prepared to ask yourself the question of what type of work you want to do again if the social and economic tidal forces threaten your employment. It is not uncommon to have more than one career path in a given lifetime.

Whatever you decide, the path you choose has gives and takes, rewards and sacrifices. While this blog post attempts to offer alternatives, the final decision is yours to make.

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