6 easy steps to see where your interests are
In my previous article (part 1), I explored how “courting” a job can be an invaluable way of gaining insights into a career, thereby helping us make informed career decisions. That article mostly focused on what’s out there but paid minimal attention to the individual.
Therefore, if you had questions such as: “Am I good enough for that?” or “Do I have what it takes to succeed in that profession?”—then you are right on the money—pun absolutely intended.
In this article, we start to look into ourselves to further help with our decisions.
Interest, love and passion
The late Steve Jobs is often quoted as saying, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you,” and “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Well, research into career satisfaction seems to indicate that the quotes are, in fact, correct. Numerous studies have already noted that interest is the primary predictor of job satisfaction.
Some also call this passion. With passion, comes motivation. With motivation, comes energy, commitment, and a will to succeed. A quick search on the definition of interest yields:
1. the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something
2. something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the curiosity of a person, and
3. the power of exciting such concern, involvement, etc.; the quality of being interesting.
From the definitions above, we can conclude that everyone has interests—from gardening, to playing computer games, to playing musical instruments. However, the problem is that what you’re interested in, often does not match what society would deem worthy of receiving compensation for. So, your interest is then relegated to being a hobby and not a paid profession. Therefore, we’ll need to find an occupation that marries our interests with something that society would pay us for.
Holland codes: RIASEC Decoded
There are many career interest models around, however we will use the Holland Codes aka RIASEC. In simple terms, the Holland RIASEC model is a categorisation of six types of work performed in various professions. Each category has broad similarities in terms of job behaviour as well as skills required. Therefore, if you have interest in the core behaviour, it is likely you will be interested in the related occupations as well.
This category requires some form of movement of the limbs. For example, sports and dancing are some jobs that fall under the Realistic category. These jobs are very hands-on and involves the physical manipulation of either self or an object. The hands-on nature of this category extends to the usage of tools. Therefore carpentry, photography, technical engineering, cooking, and any other career that involves some usage of tools come to mind. The theory states that if you like hands-on work, you are likely to be interested in professions such as crafting jewellery, carpentry, electrical engineering, and many others that will require usage of limbs.
Research. Inquiry. Experimentation.
This type of work focuses around the usage of mental inquiry and investigation. If you often wonder how things work, you are likely to have this interest. As the nature of this interest is mainly curiosity and inquisition, most if not all scientific careers require this drive. Sciences are founded on research and an inquisitive person will not feel out of place. Some examples of careers requiring this type of work is medicine, engineering, psychology, criminology, and many more.
Artistic work revolves around creative expression. This expression can come in many forms, such as language, drama, visual art, craft, and music. Therefore, this interest can drive someone towards careers such as graphic designers, music, and acting. One quick way to discover if you have this interest category is to assess how structured your daily schedules are. If you are inclined to go with the flow and decide what to do on a whim or intuition rather than follow a regulated timetable, chances are you would score highly on the artistic scale.
Teacher. Counsellor. Caretaker.
As the name implies, this interest involves people. It is driven by the desire to be with people in some form or other. Therefore, a person with this interest will fit into any career that requires spending the majority of their time with people, like the hospitality industry, as well as the helping professions of counselling and social work.
If you find yourself bored and listless without people around you, then you might want to explore this interest group a bit more.
Businessman. Entrepreneur. Salesperson.
Some call this interest the “persuaders” as work in this category usually involves the persuasion of some people.
It is not surprising then that people with this interest tend to end up being their own bosses, managing his/her employees towards greater performance. Some example careers requiring the Enterprising interest is marketing, sales, law, education, management, and entrepreneurship. If you find yourself comfortable at rallying others towards a common goal, then this is a good place to start your exploration.
Accounting. Statistics. Research.
This type of work revolves around being accurate and organised. The work involved is usually systematic and detailed, with little room for deviation. Instantly, careers like accounting, actuary, and administration come to mind. Therefore, if you find yourself more able to function when there are clear rules and instructions, you might want to explore this interest group a bit more.
Bringing it all together
With the six work categories outlined, what you do now is assess which of the six types of work is most appealing to you. If you feel you like working with your hands the most, explore the related occupations in the Realistic category. Or if you feel you have a knack for being organised, be sure to look up the Conventional occupations. If you are not sure, why not take a career interest test? Search online for The RIASEC Test from the University of Hawaii Community Colleges.
The results of the test should be taken with caution, and used for exploratory purposes rather than prescriptive. If you would like something more conclusive, visit a university nearby and inquire about career testing. They may have career testing tools that are more complete, however, please be prepared to pay a fee.
See also: Courting Your Career: Part 1
Justin Yap is a counselling psychologist who is currently a counsellor, lecturer, and trainer with CAREERsense@HELP. He is also a counsellor, counselling supervisor, and trainer with The Mind Psychological Services and Training. For more Career Advice articles, click here. To read part 1 of the article, click here.