Career Hack

When I was in high school or college, I wished someone had given me a good quality assessment that would have pointed me in the direction of sales and business early on. While I ended up in a management position in my 20s, I always avoided sales thinking (correctly) that I did not know anything about selling (but thinking incorrectly) that I could not be successful in sales. Early experiences and education in sales would have given me a significant boost to my management and later ownership role in business. Specifically, I wish I had access to the assessments we use in our business today to advise clients about hiring, promotion, succession and leadership development.

Many students have taken behavior-oriented assessments in high school and college, and many businesses use behavior-oriented assessments in team-building exercises. These are great fun to do and people learn a lot about how they interact. If you are naturally outgoing and extroverted, you may not realize that you dominate the airtime in meetings, for example, and do not always listen carefully. This can severely limit your career if you do not recognize that the more introverted around you may equate dominance with arrogance. On the other hand, the quiet, team-oriented introverts learn that they need to speak up and contribute to those meetings for the good of the group. To be a true team player is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and learn to play outside your comfort zone—whether to be quieter and more patient  or to be more “present” and dominant.

BUT behavior is NOT useful for selecting a career direction. For that, you need more sophisticated tools—and the one I have learned to trust is a Motivators assessment. For simplicity’s sake, I will say there are two broad classes of Motivators or world-views: Business and Humanistic. The business motivators are ROI, Learning , and Leadership. Introverts and extroverts alike can be business motivated, and if they are business motivated, they will tend to be attracted to positions where they can make a measurable difference in terms of their core motivators: money and value, education and knowledge, control and authority. Those people will find satisfaction and success in the business world  because the business environment sparks their motivators, they will enjoy what they are doing, and it stands to reason if you love what you are doing—you will study it, master it, have fun with it and excel!

The Humanistic motivators are so named because they are less measurable or bottom-line oriented. They include Helping Others, Peace & Harmony, Guiding Principles and Aesthetics (view a sample assessment, ); they are more people and philosophy oriented. While we certainly need people-oriented thinkers in business, if your motivators are primarily made up of Humanistic factors, you will find more significance and satisfaction in teaching, medicine, social work, religious-oriented careers or the arts than you will sales, business management or the stock market. Again, the key point is that introverts and extroverts are equally represented in both Humanistic and Business oriented roles. This is why I wish someone had introduced me to this assessment in college! My profile was clearly business, sales, and leadership-focused and I did not know what I didn’t know! Sound familiar?

About 16 years ago I was introduced to our most sophisticated assessment, the Competency profile. This is based on a psychological instrument and measures Attitudes, Talent, Energy & Drive—all things that we might ordinarily think are not measurable. This is valuable information not so much for choosing your career direction, as to help direct you to education, coaching or development to improve your results and success. In other words, you may be an extrovert (who does not listen well, a common disease among us extroverts!) and highly business motivated—and your competency profile may highlight specific areas to address in order to become a better listener. Perfect!

I remember a conversation with a 50+ year old colleague who was leaving his long-time career in his family business and was looking at our assessments for direction…I pointed out that his profile was actually a good match for a career in medicine. At that point, he told me he had actually been considering nursing, and this was an idea that went back to his youth. The issue was that his parents and many of his early influencers were in a family business, and he assumed (as did his family) that he wanted to be in business. He had a good run, but he never sought out validation about his original dreams. He had no regrets, but we shared a few “what if” stories!

Art Boulay

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