Are you in the right job for you? If not, you aren’t alone.Â According to Gallupâ€™s State of the American WorkplaceÂ report,Â 70 percent of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work.Â One survey states that 68 percent of working Americans would be willing to take aÂ salary cutÂ to work in a job that better applied their personal interests.
How can you find a role that is a good fit for you and your personality?Â With the advice to â€œdo what you loveâ€ and â€œfollow your passionâ€ abounding online, many strive to match their vocations with their personal interests in an effort to be happier at work. Conventional wisdom suggests thatÂ people who are good at and enjoy what they doÂ â€“ while they may be in the minorityÂ â€“ are happier and more successful in their jobs.
How can you be one of those people?Â Philip Hardin is the CEO ofÂ YouScience, a scientific, online profile that measures aptitudes and interests and helps students set a direction for their educations and careers. He believes the keyÂ to taking control of yourÂ career pathÂ is finding a career at the intersection of what youâ€™re good at (aptitudes), what you love to do (interests) and what the market needs you to do (opportunity). These are his tips to help identify your path:
1. Understand your aptitudes.Â Hardin defines aptitudes as the foundation for skill development. He asks: â€œHave you noticed how easy it is for you to acquire skills in certain areas, while in othersÂ â€“Â no matter how hard you tryÂ â€“Â you end up average?” Understanding your natural aptitudes allows you to play to your strengths and focus on those areas that will give you a true competitive advantage. â€œEveryone could use a competitive advantage in this tight job market, but every career requires a different blend of natural aptitudes.
Itâ€™s easy to assess your basic skills. For example, are you a strong communicator, or are you good at math? ReadÂ job descriptionsÂ carefully and map your skills to what the employers want. Some skills are a little less obvious. Do you think in 3D? (What are your spatial relations skills?) How quickly can you diagnose and critique a problem? (Do you have inductive reasoning capabilities?) Knowing your unique portfolio of aptitudes provides you with a foundation to help target your education, skill development and career.
2. Identify your interests.Â Wouldnâ€™t it be ideal if you could do what you love at work? Challenges to this proposition, which include not being very good at what you love and there being few prospects in the field you love, can make it tough to accomplish this goal. Hardin notes: â€œDoing what you love is one important piece of the career puzzle, but your interests are relative to your experience. Your interests evolve over time as you gain life experiences. They are important when considering a career, because they influence your choices and should direct how you apply your natural aptitudes.â€
3. Find the opportunities.Â The marketplace isÂ constantly changingÂ on an international, national and local level. Whether you are 18 or 50, before you focus on a particular career, itâ€™s a good idea to assess the landscape and opportunities. â€œIs the tide coming in or out for a particular industry or occupation? You have a set of natural aptitudes and interests; it is your job to find out how best to apply them,” Hardin says. “The job market is a moving target. If you are stagnant, it will hurt you.â€
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Donâ€™t worry, you donâ€™t need to get out your crystal ball or hone clairvoyant abilities to succeed. However, you do need to recognize when the world is changing. When you plan toÂ invest in a career, take a long-term view. What does the job growth look like for a career 10 years from now, and what skills are required to compete? Keep your eyes open to trends, and read news in your industry. Ask people in fields that interest you what they believe to be the trends that will affect the industry and work.
Hardin suggests:Â â€œWhen doing your research, be sure to think globally, and try to understand how changing demographics and technology might affect your industry.â€ Position yourself to take advantage of opportunities as a result of new technology.
Awareness is a big step in the right career direction. Focus on your skills and how they fit the market that interests you, and youâ€™ll be on a quicker path to job search success.
Originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report