I think back to my childhood and the expectations of adults to answer this question. Not only from family members, but then the hard-skills assessments thrown at me in middle school, then high school, and even again in college as I struggled to figure out where I truly belonged and how I should apply my strengths. Having no real working knowledge of what a "career" was supposed to look like, I knew I had a natural talent in art, and at the time computers were the way of the future.
My mother tried to push me away from anything having to do with art, taunting "you’ll be a starving artist" or "you’ll be living on the streets with no money" and other scare tactics to push me into only pursuing math and computers. I was OK at math, but I hated the abstract mathematics and heavy coding required in computer science so much that I received not one but two failing grades. Only to end up feeling defeated, wasting time and money, and switching majors back to art…but art with computers.
I’m telling this story because it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to be uncertain about your career path, and it’s most importantly OK to forgive yourself for giving in to your fears.
While educational institutions might do a decent job with teaching and testing hard skills due to government regulations and funding requirements, they might not do so well with evaluating soft skills. Whether you are a recent grad or a veteran looking to change careers, take the DISC Career Style Report by PeopleKeys® to assess your soft skills. This report will reveal your workplace personality style, how your style communicates with others, your career strengths, potential limitations or fears (and how to overcome them), and how you contribute to a work team. Also included in this report is a list of top careers enjoyed by others with your personality style. This will help take the guesswork out of some career options that might be a good fit for your unique personality. Now, how about those hard skills?
In DISC theory, developed by Dr. William Molton Marston, there are four identifiable human traits or behaviors in any given environment: (D) Dominance, (I) Influence, (S) Steadiness, and (C ) Compliance. These personality traits influence your soft skills, with each personality style having its own unique strengths, fears, and limitations. Soft skills are quite different from hard skills. Soft skills are how you interact with people and your emotional intelligence, while hard skills are the skills needed to perform a specific job function.
Hard skills, as mentioned above, are what you learn to do in order to complete a task or job function. Take a look at your DISC Career Report for your personality style. Do you already have hard skills that fit within any of the career options? If yes, then start there in your career search. It’s easier to apply what you already know and might be really great at doing already than trying to learn to do a job you know nothing about. In my example at the beginning, I had learned the hard skills of coding HTML which I use almost daily in my role, however, I couldn’t fix a car to save my life. How to repair a car is a hard skill that I don’t have but could be learned. In some cases, your hard skills might fit multiple career options, but you still aren’t sure which to pursue, and that’s ok. Don’t settle for a job just because you can do it. Remember, the difference between a job and a career is your passion! Check out our Behavioral Attitudes Index (BAI) Report to help reveal your passions.
Instead of asking someone what they want to be when they grow up, ask them, "What’s your passion?" My passion, obviously, was art. Look what happened when my fears drove me away from what I valued most. I ended up learning a very expensive lesson, but I also ended up where I was happy most. Every personality style has a fear or limitation and by understanding yours, you can learn how to overcome them. Take my lesson and don’t give in to your fears. Instead, evaluate yourself and pursue the path that best fits your unique skillsets, and most importantly makes you happiest.