As a University Recruiting Leader, I’m often approached by eager students who believe they know what they want to do and of course work for my organization. Their confidence and conviction amuse me and occasionally impress me. However, after being in the game as long as I have, I start asking simple “why questions.”
Why are you chasing this role or functional area?
Why are you chasing my organization?
Answers to these “why questions” require deep introspection, honesty, and research. After awaiting responses from students, the truthful ones will share responses that can be distilled down to external motivators such as money, acceptance, and or status. These alluring paths and or companies often sound good to their peers or important individuals in their lives. I rarely hear someone say purpose, enjoyment, fun, or some other intrinsic motivator. Even more interesting, their ambitions aren’t truly their ambitions. It’s someone else’s OR what they BELIEVE someone else’s ambitions are for them. It’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with extrinsic motivators. However, extrinsic motivation alone is often short-lived.
To identify a career path that aligns with intrinsic motivation, you must get to know yourself. How does one gain self-awareness? Career self-assessment tools, like Myers-Briggs, Strengthsfinder, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and Personalysis, can help you better understand yourself. The tools are most helpful when you’re truly honest in your responses to the assessment questions. Sadly, most people skip this vital first step of self-discovery in career development and assume they already know the answers.
Failure to understand oneself can cause someone to go down wrong paths and will oftentimes result in an avoidable future career, quarter-life, and or worse –a mid-life crisis. Students and professionals who heeded my advice to complete self-assessments will sometimes share that the types of careers they should pursue contradict their original career path entirely and inform them that it’s completely misaligned with who they are and what they enjoy doing. I would prefer someone to get that wake-up call now versus a rude awakening later!
Another important point is that interests and hobbies don’t necessarily equate to one’s career path. Just because you like biology doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be a doctor. You may just have an interest in it. We must de-couple interests and hobbies from a career path. Interests can certainly inform one’s career path but don’t mean you will be working in that field of work. Having skipped this step myself earlier on in college, I ended up pursuing a path that honestly didn’t align with the type of work that made me happy. It took a couple of years of self-exploration, additional education, and favor for someone to give me an opportunity to pivot from one functional area to the path that truly aligned with me. Here’s the good news…it’s not too late for you! Get to know yourself today! I’m a firm believer that once a person is in an area that fills their cup internally, the external trappings will follow!
William Chichester, III
Head of University Recruiting at Target
Author | Career Cheat Codes