I am a professional who has quickly moved from positions in sales (which were mostly short stays, but very successful) to one in management.
Once I began working in a management capacity I began to experience difficulties. Firstly, I had a conflict with my manager (who was not very experienced in dealing with newly hired employees) and was fired within six months. The problem, as I understand it, was that I hesitated going into her office to address her one day. I received my notice shortly thereafter this incident. I moved to another company in a similar management position. I was unable to interact with customers, and was a market analyst 40% of the time (i.e. crunched numbers), and felt constricted/restricted. While I was unhappy and buying time before switching jobs again, apparently, my performance was unsatisfactory. After a year and a half I was fired.
While I have been successful in sales, I would prefer to utilize my newly acquired skills in management to pursue another type of career, one which is "fulfilling." What psychological tests (particularly aptitude tests) would you recommend that I take, in addition to the MBTI instrument and TAIS Inventory that I have taken.
Michael John (40 year-old man) from Canada
Dear Michael John,
Congratulations on taking this opportunity to evaluate your skills and abilities and the career avenue that will be most fulfilling to you. So many people end up staying for years in jobs which they detest and end up just passing time until weekends and holidays. This is a sad and depressing way to live. When you find the work that you love and are meant to be doing, you feel great a sense of vitality and actually enjoy your work, which is a far more meaningful and rewarding way to approach the task of earning a living.
In searching for your career path, the process of soul searching and self-exploration that you engage in on your own or with the help of a therapist or career counselor is more useful than any aptitude test that you might take. There are also excellent books that can guide you in this process such as What Color is Your Parachute or Zen and the Art of Making a Living. By all means go ahead and take the aptitude tests - it will be interesting to see in what areas your strengths lie. But the best guide to finding fulfillment in your career doesn't lie outside of you - it's what you already know. You knew instinctively in your most recent position that it wasn't right for you and that you missed the client contact. The same mechanism that allowed you to know that will guide you to the work that is right for you.
It's important to examine the following areas: Above all else, what do you love doing? If money were no object or you could live your wildest dream or fantasy, what would you be doing? What did you dream of being or doing as an adult when you were a child? What are your hobbies and interests? It's important to differentiate between things that you might be very good at but have no real interest in versus the pursuits that make you feel alive and filled with enthusiasm.
Is there anything that you do now "for fun," only because you really enjoy it, that you could begin to do as a means of earning a living?
Take a look back over the past 40 years. List some of the high points in your life - things you accomplished that you were proud of, that you did a good job at, that you enjoyed doing. What are the areas in which you are skilled? For example, if your love is photography, there are many ways to be involved, depending on your strong points. You could be the photographer, but you might be better suited to developing pictures, handling the marketing or business end of a photography business, teaching others how to take good pictures, writing a book on photography, or selling highly specialized photography equipment, depending on your particular skills and interests.
At the early stage of the process, focus only on ideas. Try to stop yourself from blocking your own ideas (e.g., "I could never do that," "it would take too much money," "I'd have to go back to school," or "you can't earn enough money doing that").
You will have to make a decision as to whether the time is right for you to make a radical shift in career now. It may be that you choose not to make a huge change, but rather to make smaller changes that gradually shift you in the direction in which you want to go in your career.
It can be difficult to stay with the process through the uncertainty of not knowing what your next step will be. You may need to try one or more avenues that still aren't "it" - but those may be crucial steps that help you to realize/discover what it is that you really want to be doing. You're exploring, but you don't yet know where you will end up. Hang in there through all of this and try to view it as necessary steps along the way to finding your dream job.
Another important thing to examine is that you have now been fired two times in two years. If you haven't done so already, try to find out exactly why you were fired. There are most likely some important lessons for you to learn from these two experiences. Often when someone is fired, it reflects (as in the second instance for you) the person's own sense that the position isn't right for him. But when a person is fired on two occasions so close together, it warrants a closer look to see what is going on to cause this to happen and what changes you may need to make in terms of how you conduct yourself in the workplace.
Making a career change can be difficult, especially since you've established some tough criteria: not just any job will do. It's time for a job in which you're using your talents and enjoying yourself while making a meaningful contribution. It's a challenging process but one that is extremely worthwhile. Good luck!
Susan Maroto, LCSW