Ten clues to your favorite field

Byby Richard N. Bolles
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Job Journal

SACRAMENTO (JobJournal) -- When a woman is packing for a trip, she may throw in "a little black dress, which can go anywhere." Likewise, a man may pack a navy blue blazer.

This idea that you have something which could fit into many situations is probably the best introduction to the concept of "transferable skills." Briefly stated, your basic skills, whether they be organizing or analyzing or writing or teaching or planning - are like that dress or blazer: They can go anywhere.

Therefore, you have to decide where you'd be happiest employing your transferable skills, because - believe me - where you'd be happiest is also where you'll be most effective.

This exercise is called "picking a field." Sounds easy. But I have learned over the past 30 years that there is no subject where job hunters and career changers bog down more than in figuring out their favorite field; so let me try to cut through the thicket by offering you ten ways to approach this decision.

1. What kinds of problems do you most like to solve? In a sense, all jobs deal with problems, and if you are good at your work you have to learn how to solve them. So the question is: Do the problems you most like to solve involve people or data or things? The choice is yours because your transferable skills can go anywhere.

2. What kinds of questions do you most like to help people find answers to? Is it: What are the best videos? Or: How does this work? Or: What makes a marriage last?

3. What personal knowledge do you most like to display? Is it historical trivia? Information technology? Knowledge of some foreign land or culture?

4. What are your favorite hobbies or interests? Aviation? Gardening? Spanish? Handicrafts? Biking? Note that most hobbies are also industries.

5. What are your favorite words, those that you would most like to toss around all day? Every field has, in a sense, its own language. For example, the language of theology is: God, love, forgiveness, compassion, sacrifice. The language of computing is: data, app, website, hyperlink, cloud. Often your heart is guided to a field by identifying your favorite vocabulary. Your heart knows before your head.

6. What's your definition of a "fascinating stranger?" When you're at a party or conference and you meet someone really fascinating, what is it they talk about that you find so intriguing? Granted that their expertise in that subject may be greater than yours, it's still often a very helpful clue as to where you might most enjoy working.

7. What articles or blogs do you most love to read? What subjects really catch your interest? They may indicate where you'd most like to use your transferable skills.

8. What websites do you most often gravitate to? Look at your list of bookmarks. What subjects do they involve? Your favorite interests may lie naked before you, even if all other pathways prove to be dead ends.

9. If you watch a TV game show, which categories do you hope the contestant will pick? On educational channels, what kinds of subjects catch your interest?

10. If you could write a book, and it wasn't about your own life or someone else's, what would be the subject? What would you most love to write about?

Once you've identified your primary interests or chosen your favorite field, the rest is a piece of cake. All you have to do is figure out how your transferable skills can be 'worn' in that field. This is just a matter of informational interviewing or research.

That research is often easier than you'd think. For example, if you decide your favorite field is 'movies,' pay attention to the closing credits next time you're in a theater. You'll see lots of potential career paths. And what a wonderful headline afterward: "I found my job while watching Guardians of the Galaxy."

Courtesy of JobJournal.com
Copyright 2015 by Job Journal. All rights reserved.

For more job-search advice and information, visit JobJournal.com and click on Resources.