What Career Path Best Fits Your Personality?

We spend about one third of our waking lives at work, but many of us slog through the hours, longing for the symbolic five o'clock bell to chime. If that sounds like your day, a bad manager or difficult work environment could be at fault. However, the incompability between your personality style and the job itself might just be causing your unhappinesss.

When your personality does not align with your job, your workday is likely to drain you. When who you are aligns with what you do, your job will feed you. To thrive at work, you must match your personallity with your career.

The 4 Styles and Career Choice

The four personality styles offer clues as to what would fill you with energy rather than deplete you:

  1. Eagles are results-driven and dominant, and like to win. They like to take charge and seek the freedom to solve problems their own way. They would likely enjoy a career that is free from high levels of detail and repetitiveness. They tend to thrive in industries driven by innovation and risk-taking. Eagles often enjoy roles in sales, law, real estate, management, and business ownership.
  2. Parrots are social, upbeat, and enthusiastic. They have a strong need to interact with others and can be quite persuasive. They enjoy spontaneity and like to work in fast-paced environments with little constraints. They are often found in marketing, public relations, sales, training, teaching, or any role that allows them to interact with a lot of people.
  3. Doves are soft-spoken, cooperative, and methodical. They seek environments in which people work together harmoniously. They tend to seek roles that serve others, as they are drawn to helping people. Doves commonly seek jobs in areas such as human resources, teaching, nursing, counseling, and customer service.
  4. Owls are logical, detail-oriented, and inquisitive. They like roles in which they can solve complex problems through careful analysis. They like systems and clear processes. Owls shine when they have the time to produce quality results. They are often drawn to jobs in finance, accounting, engineering, IT, quality control, and risk management.

Personality and Engagement

If your career matches your personality, you'll probably feel productive and satisfied. But if the job is a poor fit, your effectiveness and happiness will decline.

Imagine an energetic and social Parrot sitting in a cubicle sorting through spreadsheets all day. She might do it well, but she will be exhausted by the end of the day. Put that same Parrot at a networking conference where she gets to meet new people and enthusiastically share the products she believes in. Now that's an engaged Parrot!

By contrast, imagine an Owl in both of the above roles. Analyzing spreadsheets might fuel the Owl. However, drop that Owl into a networking event, and he is likely to leave feeling drained.

Selecting a Career

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." Whether you are just starting your career or at a crossroads, take a moment to consider what feeds you and what drains you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you could design the perfect day outside of work, what would you do? Even if your answer is not work-related, it contains clues to what nourishes you. Do you interact with a group of friends or do you engage in a solitary activity that requires attention to detail? How much risk and what level of creativity are involved?
  • What is one thing in your life that you have to do but don't like doing? Your answer hints at what depletes you.
  • Perhaps you already have a job, but you are not connecting with it. What aspects of your job would you keep and what would you get rid of? If you could design a role that contains everything you love to do, what would you do throughout the day?

When five o'clock rolls around, are you surprised at how fast the day went or shocked at how long it felt? Your answer may reveal whether your job feeds or depletes you. With so much of your waking life spent at work, shouldn't you love what you do?

Merrick Rosenberg is the author of The Chameleon and CEO of Take Flight Learning.