Job seekers don’t always know how to answer the question: “What do you want to do at work everyday?” We think about work in terms of qualifications and specialty knowledge: surgeon, kindergarten teacher, race car driver, but so many careers don’t require any specialization. For people who aren’t on a highly specialized career track, finding a new job can feel like floundering around in the ocean— completely directionless. How do you think about what job to do next if your skills are general or abstract?
One way is to consider the day to day responsibilities of your ideal role, but many people get stuck on trying to summarize the plethora of small responsibilities of work: less meetings, more report writing, a small team, some client projects but not too many. It doesn’t feel very helpful or easy. However, most people can place themselves on this graph quickly and easily:
As an example, let’s take a communication career. Someone who enjoys solitary executing might prefer a job writing technical documentation, whereas someone who enjoys social organizing might prefer a job planning marketing campaigns for a product team.
Of course this is a gradient; every job has some degree of all of these things, but you can map jobs onto this graph based on the core responsibilities of the role. In general, career growth tracks map well to these quadrants as well, which can be another way to figure out which jobs and responsibilities are a fit for you. Management tracks usually involve more social organizing, while senior specialist tracks usually involve more solitary executing. If your career goals include one direction or the other, you should prioritize work experience in the corresponding quadrants.
If you’re not sure what jobs you want to look for, this is a helpful tool for networking and informational interviews. For example: I’m interested in careers that involve a lot of strategic planning, but where my day to day work isn’t with other people. Do you know anyone who has a job like that? And if you are just getting started with your search, this is also a helpful tool for measuring the jobs you’re considering against the type of work you want to do every day!