Basing a career choice on personality types may sound a bit mystical to some people, but research has shown that it can be one on the most crucial aspects of finding a job that satisfies both emotionally as well as economically.
“When looking to make a career choice it is good to start with a kind of aerial view and then zero in on the economic matters,” says Lawrence Shatkin, author “The 50 Best Jobs For Your Personality.” He holds a free book signing and discussion at Barnes and Noble at MarketFair on Wednesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. Call 609-897-9250.
Shatkin is a staff writer for Jist Publishing, which is based in Indianapolis. He says that he wrote the book to help fill the job searcher’s quest for more certainty and information in the ever-more complicated world of obtaining meaningful work. “The basic point is to look at the kinds of work and kinds of work situations in which people will feel comfortable,” he says. “There have been a number of books that look at the concept of best jobs from the viewpoint of economic rewards, but it occurred to me that many people would do well to start looking at a career search from 40,000 feet. Once you establish what careers work well with your personality, then you can dig into the economic concerns.”
While many people look at a job as primarily a means to make money and pay the bills, Shatkin says that personality issues are often the most telling when it comes to job satisfaction. “To use an obvious example, if someone is afraid of heights, then he certainly doesn’t want to consider a job as a window washer,” he says. “If you are looking for high prestige, the income aspect of a job will satisfy some of your needs, but not necessarily all of them. There are a lot of concerns beyond money that people have when it comes to finding that perfect career.”
Shatkin adds that personality issues can have an exponential impact on a company’s productivity as well as its employees’ work experience. “If you take a person who likes a very structured work environment in which there are rules and everything is very systematic and throw him into a room where people are very creative and like to break the rules in order to arrive at some sort of a breakthrough, you are setting up an awkward situation,” says Shatkin. “Those people are going to get on one another’s nerves.”
Based on the work of John Holland, who first investigated the correlation between career choices and personality types in the 1950s, Shatkin says that his book will serve both those who are in mid-career and looking for a career change as well as those in high school and college who are just preparing to hit the job market.
“Holland divided the world of work into six types and then created a system that revealed what personality types would most likely be attracted to what professions,” says Shatkin. “Since then there has been a lot of research on this and it has been expanded to be able to predict traffic accident rates or what sort of personality types are likely to abuse drugs. Of course, I am interested in how personality pertains to career choice.”
Much of the information Shatkin used in formulating “The 50 Best Jobs For Your Personality” came from the United States Department of Labor. “If you don’t have access to the data that will support your ideas, you really can’t write a book about it,” he says. “I can’t base my book on guesswork and say that this career is better than another one because I think there are a lot of job openings or that it may fit with a personality type. The statistics we get make it possible to analyze the data in a meaningful way.”
The book is structured with a general introduction that explains the various personality types, the applicability of personality in career choice, as well as an assessment test, which allows readers to narrow down just what their personality type may be. “It is sometimes more than one,” says Shatkin. This allows them to look over the lists in the book that spell out the best jobs for their sort of personality. The book also includes comprehensive descriptions of 50 jobs for each personality type as well as educational requirements that further allow readers to make an informed choice on what sort of career they may like to pursue.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Shatkin earned his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, his master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Lehigh University — all in English Literature. “Literature was my entrance into the world of career information, because when I graduated, at the end of the 1970s, there were very few jobs for people to teach English,” he says. “I had a career problem on my hands right then and there. That’s when I discovered that teaching wasn’t really what I wanted to do.”
With an interest in research and writing, Shatkin found the perfect job in the research department at the Educational Testing Service. But after 19 years, he was downsized in the late 1990s. “ETS was moving away from the work they had been doing in careers and decided to focus on their testing,” says Shatkin. “But career work was where I had established my expertise.”
Shatkin, like most people, has felt the impact of personality and work collide. “I’ve learned over the years where my personality fits in,” he says. “I`ve been in working situations where there is a great emphasis on the social aspects of work. You needed to please people, and while I am not a nerd or a churlish person, pleasing people is not what I want to spend most of my time doing. On the other hand there are people who really enjoy that part of work.”
As a part of the staff with Jist Publications, Shatkin is able to work from his home in Hopewell Township, where he lives with his wife and daughter. This is a work situation that fits his personality type well. “My morning commute takes me 10 seconds,” he says. An author of a number of career books published by Jist Publishing, Shatkin’s next book is entitled “Best Jobs for Baby Boomers,” due out later this year.
For those searching for the right career for their personality, Shatkin offers the following tips:
Do some self-analysis. Those who do a little self-study can potentially save themselves years of job dissatisfaction. Reflect — honestly — on your likes and dislikes. Ask yourself what sort of work environment suits your temperament and then go for it. “My personality comes somewhere between investigative and artistic,” says Shatkin. “I like doing research. I like solving new problems, and I also like to write and the creative aspects of putting things together. I have been able to find the perfect working situation.”
Act your age. In order to land in the right career at the right time, Shatkin says that job searchers of all ages should consider their age bracket. “It is best to look at what sort of jobs have a high representation of people working in them who are around your general age,” he says. “It is also necessary to see what education they may have or are planning on obtaining. That way you have an idea of what your success rate may be.”
Look at the work. Consider the nitty-gritty work situations of a potential job or career before plunging in. “Take a good look at the kind of work that is done on a daily basis, what the work situations are, likely problems, and what sort of people you will have to work with,” says Shatkin. “It is important to be comfortable with all these aspects of your job.”
Then look at other factors. “There are a lot of ways that you can look at the issue of finding the right career,” says Shatkin. “Personality isn’t the only one, but it is a real important one. It counts for a lot. After studying your personality needs, move on and look at what your economic requirements are. Then, hopefully, you can meld all your work requirements.”
And work happily ever after.