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Q: In need of a job/career -- from a psychological perspective... ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: In need of a job/career -- from a psychological perspective...
Category: Reference, Education and News > Job and Careers
Asked by: billybob00-ga
List Price: $35.00
Posted: 23 Oct 2006 09:54 PDT
Expires: 22 Nov 2006 08:54 PST
Question ID: 776075
For what seems like the past several months, I have been pondering
whether or not my current career path is for me.  After much thought,
I've come to a conclusion: My current career is not the ideal
environment to satisfy my ambitions and further my development as a
person.  To understand the situation, however, I need to explain a few

I realize a lot of what I'm about to say should be brought up with a
psychologist rather than a career advisor or someone I have never met
on the Internet.  I have, however, already gone down that path with
different doctors, and I keep coming to the conclusion: there's no
quick fix to my problems.  I know what I need to do, and I know it
will take time. I have never brought this issue up with a
psychologist, but I feel I express myself much better on paper when
I'm alone and can organize my thoughts.  Every one of the points I
will make is important, and when explaining how I feel to someone in
person, many times I forget these important points.

I am currently employed as a software tester at a relatively large
company.  There I am responsible for testing one of the top selling
products we offer.  When I first started the job roughly a year and a
half ago, I very much enjoyed it.  For the most part, I was able to
keep to myself, and "play" on a computer all day.  Once the novelty
wore off, however, I began to question whether or not it was really
what I wanted to do.  There were several things that bothered me...

The reason I want to go into so much detail is I want you to get an
idea of what goes on in my head on any given day.  It might not be
every day that I experience what I mention (I know that I can judge
myself quite harshly at times), but I need a career that will
challenge me both mentally and socially, yet at the same time be
forgiving enough of my social perplexities to allow for breathing
room.  I hope there is such a career.

I grew up not having very many friends.  The friends I did have were
obsessed with video games and computers.  It definitely had an effect
on me, and much of my life, to this day, has involved computers and
video games.  Unfortunately, I have always viewed computers as
something "nerdy".  Perhaps more troubling than nerdy, is that I feel
that I am not progressing socially.  I feel that I have a lot of
untapped potential, but due to the vast amount of time I spend on the
computer, this potential is being held back.

More than anything I ever wanted was to be "cool".  I'm not quite sure
what this entails, but I have always admired people who emit a sense
of self-confidence and belief in themselves.  I envy those people. 
The problem is I feel that I can't get to that point in my current
state as a software tester.. the whole day is spent in a dark room.

One of my worries is that it may be a case of "the grass is always
greener on the other side".  I could see myself getting overwhelmed if
I chose a different career path, and wishing I had just stayed with
computers.  It's the worry that I just have to face the music, and
work is work... I just have to find a way to be happy with what I

As much as I desire change, at the same time I crave familiarity.  A
perfect example happened at work the other day.  Being bored with my
usual task of sitting at my desk and testing software, I got up and
started to try another test that required more equipment.  I soon
found that in order to get the equipment needed, I would have to fill
out certain forms, talk to certain people, and basically go through a
process that I was unfamiliar with.  I noticed that I was getting
tired and very quickly, and I soon desired to return to my desk to
resume normal testing.  I was uncomfortable with the new assignment. 
Situations such as these, with abrupt change, tend to throw me off. 
Throughout my various jobs in life, I have noticed I don't take change
too well.  But the perplexity is at the same time, I do want to do
something else... I'm just not always ready to pay the opportunity
cost.  On the positive side, however, once I stick to something new, I
eventually get used to it.

The point I'm trying to make here is what I want and desire when I'm
alone and pondering life, such as at this very moment, I tend to want
things that are more challenging socially, such as leadership roles,
more reponsibility, etc.  The paradox is when I'm in the "heat of
battle", or when I'm in the very situation around people, I tend to
isolate myself, feel anxious in talking to people (especially at
work), and just get real jealous of the people that do have what I
want.  I feel overwhelmed at how much I seemingly lack as compared to
my peers.  Whether or not that's true is another story... the fact of
the matter is, that's the way I feel.

On another topic, and perhaps most importantly, I don't like the
feeling I get when studying computer science, IT, etc.  I can
appreciate the deep logic and planning that goes with programming, or
the intricacies of learning a different OS such as Linux... but to me,
at the end of the day, I kinda feel like I'm missing out on what
really matters in life.  When I learn about history, science, the
economy, political science, or even accounting, I get this sense of
"oh, I get it!".  I feel accomplished, in that I get a better sense of
how the world works around me.  I feel like my character grows upon
learning things that pertain to everyday living.  I feel more
satisfied, and appreciate the world around me more.  I don't get that
with computers.  Unfortunately, due to my seemingly complex social
problems, as well as other things (as far as I know/heard, there
aren't many jobs in the areas of study I mentioned, unless you want to
be a teacher) I have shyed away from seriously pursuing any of these
paths, nor have I come to a conclusion on what I would study if I were
to choose.

Lastly, I'd like to comment on one of my "social complexities" that
prevent me from performing my best at work.

I have this nasty tendency to judge people on their looks.  If someone
has a certain look to them that I deem threatening in some manner
(such as someone who appears very outgoing), I immediately start
thinking bad things about them in my head -- I'll tend to look for
faults in them.  If the person comes across as a confident person,
while at the same time being a certain race, I immediately label that
person as my "enemy"... perhaps enemy isn't the word, but in my brain
I definitely set that person aside and say, "I don't like you".  This
type of thinking scares me.

Whew!  Having said all that, hopefully I gave you a glimpse of the way
I view the world.  My ultimate question is:

What careers/jobs are there that would satisfy me, and be compatible
with my "social complexities"?

Seeing as how 8+ hours of your day are spent at work, I feel it would
be wise to have the right one.
Subject: Re: In need of a job/career -- from a psychological perspective...
Answered By: guillermo-ga on 25 Oct 2006 19:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Billy Bob,

It's good to meet you again. I hope you find this answer as useful as
you found the one I provided you about sleeping problems.

I'll address your current subject in two aspects. First, following
your own thoughts about it, I do encourage you to bring up these
issues with a psychologist, counselor or the psychotherapist of your
choice. I do believe that you will find some orientation in this
answer, but even if you do, a professional's support will help you
walk the chosen path. I notice in your recounting a possible added
challenge to deal with. Just like it happens to many people, some of
your desires seem to be contradictory -- namely, you do feel more
comfortable (if I understood you well) when working by yourself;
still, you crave for a more outgoing social behavior.

One possibility is that two real characteristics of yours mutually
interfere. But you should also consider that, maybe, what you crave
might be not an actual characteristic of yours but a way of being that
for some reason you idealize (the neighbor's "greener grass"). If this
was the case, compelling yourself to achieve that goal might be the
highway to a painful and unhappy living, by constantly forcing
yourself to play a role that is not in your nature, that takes you a
lot of energy and that you ultimately dislike. One thing is the
alleged social reward of being extrovert -- popularity, recognition --
and a very different thing is the effort of playing every working day
a character that is not really you.

Of course, social realization is an aspect of life that everybody
looks for, and most people achieve it to the degree of their needs,
which differs from one another. Thus, an introvert person surely needs
a much lesser amount of social recognition than, say, a standup
comedian, a lecturer, a politician or a high profile businessman --
and still may have a social life as much or even more happy than any
of the latter. (In terms of happiness, which should be the measure of
any type of success.) In any case, your determination to better the
social aspect of your life sounds very auspicious -- just be aware not
to unnecessarily distress yourself in search of more social reward
than what would actually make you happy.

Anyway, all that was mere speculation, not even a hypothesis, and your
wish to expand your sociability may very well be the manifestation of
a genuine impulse that has been inhibited for some reason and is
pushing its way out. Now, in either case, a therapist's assistance
would be most useful -- to help you visualize what is your real drive,
and clear up any obstacle from your way. Even though I have training
and practice in social psychology, it is not possible for me to
provide you with that assistance from the distant perspective of a
Google Answers researcher.

Now, the core of your question is what would be the type of job that
would better fit your personality. I believe that a good approach for
this is the widely accepted standard of the Holland Codes, created by
psychologist John L. Holland, who identified 6 types of personalities,
matching as many groups of preferred careers and work environments.
These categories are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social,
Enterprising and Conventional (the whole categorization system
abbreviated as RIASEC). Combining information from (1) the
Occupational Interests page
) at the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Employability,
and (2) the article Human Behaviour in Business
) at Chuck, I compiled the characteristics of each category:

" such as laboratory based work, environmental, agriculture,
horticulture, forestry, mechanics, catering, production and
manufacturing, professional engineering, sport, leisure, tourism,
direct health therapists, production planner, building inspector,
safety engineer and marine surveyor." (1)

"Personality characteristics include being shy, genuine, persistent,
stable, conforming, and practical. (2)

" in any field of science or technology, such as chemist,
physicist, astronomer, biochemist, orthodontist, anthropologist,
economist, researcher, management analyst or specialist in one of the
natural or physical sciences and many other forms of intellectual and
academic work." (1)

"Personality characteristics include being analytical, originality,
curiosity and independence." (2)

"...visual or plastic arts, occupations such as architect, copy
writer, technical editor, story editor, composer, stage director,
interior decorator, and commercial designer all aspects of design,
music, writing, multimedia, film, video, broadcasting, theatre etc."

"Personality characteristics include imagination, disorder, idealism,
irrationalism and impracticality." (2)

" (such as) lecturing, teaching, health professions and
therapies, marketing and sales, leisure and tourism, event management,
psychologist, psychiatric case worker, HR or personnel manager, legal
careers, speech therapist, counselling, advice and welfare work,
charity and fundraising." (1)

"Personality characteristics include sociability, friendly,
cooperation and understanding." (2)

", public relations, financial planner, estate agent,
stockbroker, investment and pensions management, some legal work,
finance management, sales and marketing, buying and procurement, or
setting up your own business or consultancy." (1)

"Personality characteristics include self-confidence, ambition, energy
and domination." (2)

"...accountancy, bookkeeping, budget analysis, business programming,
finance and administration, IT and computer related work, data
management and research, quality control and testing." (1)

"prefers rule-regulated, orderly, unambiguous activities.  Personality
characteristics include conforming, efficiency, practicality,
unimaginative, and inflexibility." (2)

[For a more comprehensive list of careers for each category, visit
Holland Codes article at Wikipedia
( )]

No one is so simple to have only one of the six characteristics, or
even only one dominant. In fact, most people have all of them, and
normally two or three are dominant, typically -- and preferably --
compatible. However, some people have incompatible dominant
characteristics, what usually becomes a challenge to overcome.

Dr. Holland arranged the six categories in a hexagon
( ) -- one for
each triangle within the hexagon -- so that contiguous categories are
best compatible, and compatibility decreases as the categories grow
farther. Ultimately, categories opposing each other in the hexagon are
the least compatibles. Thus, if you fill each of the hexagon's inner
triangles in clockwise direction with each category in the order
listed above (RIASEC), you'll visualize that the most compatible
combinations are: Realistic-Investigative; Investigative-Artistic;
Artistic-Social; Social-Enterprising; Enterprising-Conventional, and
Conventional-Realistic. Conversely, the most incompatible combinations
are Realistic-Social; Investigative-Enterprising, and

The only way to rigorously determine one's dominant characteristics is
taking a Holland-type test. You can access the one available at The
Career Key website (
for a $7.95 fee, or else the one at The Self-Directed Search ( ) for
$9.95. (There might be others -- these are the ones I've found.) Also,
at the abovementioned Occupational Interests page
) at the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Employability,
there is a short version that you can perform manually -- I prepared a
rudimentary automation of it on an Excel spreadsheet that you can find

Now, following your thorough description of your characteristics, I
could make a guess that in no way can be taken as an actual assessment
of your type of personality -- rather as a supposed approximation,
ultimately fictional -- to orientate your further thinking over.
However, I would suggest that you TAKE THE TEST BEFORE CONTINUE
READING, to avoid being influenced by my suppositions when you do.


Well, whether you decided to take the test first or not, these are my thoughts:

You said that you're very attached to familiarity in your job, and
that often your attempts to engage in a change end by throwing you
off. Also, you seem to be a very meticulous person, who cares about
details and likes to address issues orderly and methodically. That
would suggest that you might have a strong Conventional component in
your personality. On the other hand, you seemingly need to have your
curiosity stimulated, and once you feel sated of a subject, it loses
interest for you, and starts to bore you. You find improving your
understanding of the world gratifying (history, economics). And
rationality seems to be your preferred approach for comprehension,
rather than intuition. That would point to an Investigative component
of your personality -- thus, I'd say that your two dominant
characteristics are Conventional and Investigative.

According to this, you may consider to orient yourself towards
research in any of the fields you expressed interest about, such as
history, science, economics, political science, etc. Even though the
widest job opportunities probably lay on teaching, there is the
possibility of research. You might get to know people with similar
interests and personality features as yours, and join research teams
in the academic world, which tend to be more smoothly approachable
than those in the faster-pace, more competitive environment of
business organizations.

Changing a bit the focus, you may think of training yourself as a
writer -- I wasn't thinking about fiction (although one never knows),
but of research journalism, history again. One way of becoming a
writer can be the preparation of a doctoral thesis if you decide to
train yourself in any of the research fields of your interest. At the
same time, writing courses might be a good environment to meet people,
exposing you, yes, but with the mediation of a teacher and a task.

Also, you may take advantage of your IT knowledge with a different
approach, by developing one or more websites on subjects of your
interest -- which may very well be the same fields mentioned above.
Chances are that eventually a website provides a decent income, and
also a community builder -- online communities are often a good start
for real life relationships.

Finally, you may also consider -- as a goal in itself or else as a way
to improve your present life at work while you start walking your new
path -- to keep on looking for more challenging tasks in your current
job, and -- without stressing you to an unbearable point -- face an
deal with the expectable and understandable anxieties that doing so
would trigger. It is to overcome this type of obstacles -- whatever
the path you chose, there'll be such -- that I suggest you walk
through changes with the professional assistance of some sort of

I believe that you will find this answer helpful, otherwise please let
me know via clarification request. Best of luck in your search for a

Warm regards,


Clarification of Answer by guillermo-ga on 25 Oct 2006 19:53 PDT
Search strategies:

"job and personality"

"holland model"

"holland codes"

"holland test"

Request for Answer Clarification by billybob00-ga on 27 Oct 2006 23:06 PDT
Thanks, I appreciate your response.

Are there any good message boards that you are aware of that would
have people in my situation... 25, going to college, still looking for
that right job/career.  I'd like to exchange advice with people in the
same boat as me.

Also, are there any specific careers that jump out to you that might
fit me?  You seemed to understand my personality quite well.

One thing I wanted to mention... it's not your fault, but I was highly
disappointed with the career key test.  Only a few questions, and
frustrating at that (the options to answer were True, Mostly true, and
Not true -- I hate absolute answers like that).  I can't believe they
charge for it.  Anyway...

Other than that, good, sound advice.  As I said, I've been to
psychologists before, and I always come to the conclusion that I've
gone as far as I can go with the psychologist... I gotta do the rest
on my own.  It's been more than a few months since I last saw one. 
It's just good to have moral support, I guess.  I don't get enough of

Clarification of Answer by guillermo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 11:18 PDT
Hi Billy Bob,

Thanks for you appreciation of my answer. Too bad that the test
disappointed you. Certainly, those rigid options are somewhat annoying
for me too, but it is a somehow unavoidable downside of most tests --
they're conceived to turn a qualitative reality into quantitative
facts, and then, in this case, classify one within a standardise
category, which is an extreme simplification -- in fact, the immense
variety of 6 billion people in the world could never fit exactly into
6 types. However, it does help as a departing point to think things
over -- hence my suggestion of professional advice (psychological or
not, it might very well be a career counselor), but if you feel more
like dealing with it by yourself, it is possible that your previous
experience with professional assistance had already provided you with
all what you could take from it. It is a fact that, at a certain
point, it is oneself with one's own issues to solve -- professional
assistance is a tool one can use, normally a very helpful one, but it
is neither the solution itself, nor a replacement for one's own
decisions and actions. Now, did you find that the categorization of
the test's result really fits you, of you felt it astray?

As to what careers seem to fit what you've described about yourself, I
would think of research in those sciences not too demanding of
outdoors field work, such as economy, astronomy, mathematics,
sociology or anthropology (as much as you chose orientation that you
could manage with archived data), history. I may think of you in
research projects, interacting with small groups of people -- that
could give you a good balance between your need for socialization and
your tendency towards introversion -- research people are frequently
like you in that aspect, so you'll have a chance to build
relationships with people with whom you might understand one another
pretty well. Even if you had to do some field work, if not of the type
that would expose you to a lot of unknown people, that would be a good
opportunity to interact with colleagues who may go along well with
you. Maybe surprisingly, psychology and counseling are fields
frequently suitable for people with a tendency to introversion and
issues with social interaction -- even though a counselor or
psychologist work interacting with people, they normally listen more
than what they talk, and wouldn't expose their own personality and
intimacy -- now, since it is usually a lonely work, if this was your
choice, you should think of joining teams of work for sharing
experiences, research or further learning. Writing is another option
-- it is solitary enough, but also offers the opportunity of meeting
people in training workshops while you're in the learning process --
however, this require a taste for writing, which I don't know whether
is your case.

Regarding message boards for people in similar situations as yours,
you may try these ones:

Career Planning for College Students, at Monster

Vault Message Boards
(typing, e.g., "career choice" in the search box, brings back 56 discussion topics)

College Message Boards
Particularly the board "career planning":

I hope you find this information and thoughts useful.



Clarification of Answer by guillermo-ga on 28 Oct 2006 13:09 PDT
Adding to the disciplines I mentioned, you could also consider
physics, geography, chemistry. As a general principle, fields that
would have you working in labs, offices, libraries, in small groups,
as opposed to outdoors, or crowded organizational environments. There
are aspects of you that you didn't mention, but those you did don't
make me think of someone who would like natural sciences such as
biology, veterinary, etc.

billybob00-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Good, thorough answer.  Responded well with informative information,
without having the advantage of knowing me.

Subject: Re: In need of a job/career -- from a psychological perspective...
From: guillermo-ga on 01 Nov 2006 14:40 PST
Thank you very much, Billy Bob. I hope the information I provided you
with will help you define the next steps in your career. I wish you
the best of luck.


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