By Jason Lee
Tribune Media Services
December 5, 2012
Do you feel out of place at work and dread going in every day? Are you constantly anxious and worried that you're headed down the wrong career path?
While you could be justifiably unhappy with your career – whether due to low pay, lack of benefits, a boss who's a jerk or other reasons – sometimes the best solution is to take a deep breath, look in the mirror and come to this realization:
Not every job is a fit for every personality.
Even in a down economy, you shouldn't just focus your efforts on landing a new job – it's better to seek out a rewarding career that better matches your individual strengths and personality. Your happiness – and your long-term success – could depend on it.
If you would like an in-depth portrait of your personality, it might help to meet with a career counselor who can provide you with standardized career assessments. These tests will help you to know yourself better and nail down ideal career paths that fit your strengths.
Career counselors typically can be found in private practice, as part of community or state agencies or at college and university career centers.
Character fits the bill
Research shows those who apply their personal strengths in their job experience more enjoyment and sense of purpose in their work. They see their career more as a calling than simply a job to pay the bills.
That's according to data from a new University of Zurich study that found the application of personal strengths in one's profession goes "hand in hand" with more positive experiences at work, i.e. "enjoyment, flow, sense of purpose or satisfaction and calling."
"They enjoy work more, are more wrapped up in it, perceive their work as more meaningful and are more satisfied with their job," the study states.
Researchers examined more than 1,000 working people and their character strengths, and whether they were able to apply these strengths at work and how positively they experienced their work.
"If it is clarified which character strengths are essential for a job" before a position is filled, "a person can be recruited based on these strengths," said Dr. Claudia Harzer, author of the study.
"Employers and employees only stand to benefit from this," Harzer added.
Coming to terms with your personality and strengths can be the most important step in deciding on a proper career path. Here's a list of four in-demand careers and the personality traits often associated with job success and fulfillment:
Software engineer/IT computer programmer
Top traits: Analytical, Industriousness, Patience, Drive, Self-reliance
Software engineers and IT computer programmers work independently on complex projects that require knowledge of new technologies and a drive to develop new skills. They often work on many parts of a project at the same time and must be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.
Bob Dickey, executive vice president of technologies at the staffing firm Randstad U.S., said the future outlook for tech workers "remains bright and encouraging."
In addition, tech workers are optimistic about their employability, with 55 percent of IT workers feeling confident in their ability to find a new job, according to a recent Randstad U.S. study.
"Technology workers were more optimistic about nearly all confidence measures this quarter, including the strength of the economy, the availability of jobs, and overall employability," Dickey said.
Top traits: Courtesy, Responsibility, Enthusiasm, Compassion, Dedication
Working in health care requires a strong passion for helping others, patience and the ability to cope with setbacks and high emotions. Physical therapy is often a great fit for those who are outgoing, personable and work well as part of a team of health professionals.
Job opportunities are likely to be very good for licensed physical therapists, with employment projected to grow 39 percent through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Top traits: Analytical, Honesty, Compatibility, Adaptability, Carefulness, Calmness
Personal financial advisors must be personable and trustworthy with clients, explain complicated financial portfolios in simple terms, and respond well to their customers' many questions and concerns. They also should excel at problem solving and math, as they regularly work with numbers.
Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 32 percent through 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to BLS data.
Top traits: Compatibility, Adaptability, Initiative, Self-reliance, Responsibility
Interpreters and translators must exhibit strong attention to detail, as they are required to listen carefully and respond quickly while ensuring that they interpret or translate correctly.
Successful translators also must be personable, sensitive to cultural differences and have an ability to juggle multiple projects and deadlines. While many translators and interpreters work for agencies, some are self-employed or run their own small businesses.
The job outlook is excellent for translators of foreign languages such as Spanish, German, French and Italian. Demand is also strong for speakers of Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages, as well as Mandarin, Japanese and Korean.
Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 42 percent through 2020, according to BLS data. An increasingly diverse U.S. population should continue to drive the demand for more interpreters and translators.