Assessing your Sense of Purpose

asdf In clarifying your goal, you are not attempting to name a single job that is the only one that could make you happy. Most people have an array of related career interests, each of which share characteristics that would make individuals satisfied with their work. In finding your sense of purpose, you are identifying the qualities that are important to your satisfaction.

If you already have a clear goal, skip to step 2 below.

Step 1. Take stock of what you already know about your interests:

Describe the work setting or environment you prefer: inside/outside, formal/casual, noisy/quiet, fast-paced/moderate-paced, intense/relaxing, intellectual/physical, etc.
Name some of your talents, skills, and abilities, including those others say you have.
Name at least 3 interests that you pursue in your free time that you find meaningful, fulfilling, stimulating or rewarding.
List traits that you hope your work will include (such as writing, being active, problem solving, helping people, etc.)
If there are jobs you're sure you would not like, what traits are missing from them? (For example, if a job seems repetitious to you, enter "variety"; if one seems boring, enter "excitement" or "challenge".)
In what ways do you want to contribute to the world?

Step 2.

Using the above responses, use at least one trait (or your clear goal) as a search word to research possible options on O*Net. Be sure to explore the "related fields" link there as you try to find 1-5 career options that you think would allow you to use your talents, skills, interests, and abilities, even if indirectly. Record these options in the space provided below:


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Was this difficult? Here are some tips to help:

  • Go back to O*Net to compare jobs and to search for those that match your interests. Enter any job that might serve as a good starting place, and look at the related jobs that it suggests. Explore those, and the jobs related to them, until you have found a handful that you would enjoy.
  • Look for insight through the choices you've made: how do you spend your free time when you feel the time is well-spent? When have your "peak experiences" occurred, when you became absorbed by an activity because it was deeply rewarding, fun or challenging? For example, what attracted you to your major?
  • Sift through your past activities for ideas: make a list of the jobs, volunteer activities and leadership positions that you've had. For each, jot down 1) the aspects you enjoyed most about it and 2) the things you wish had been true about it (for example, if the hours were bad, note that you like flexible hours; if the supervision was poor, note that you like clear expectations and regular feedback). Comb back through your lists and choose your top 5 traits so that you're ready for the next tip:
  • Join LinkedIn/ HanoverCAN! You can post questions to the group to get advice directly from alumni professionals who want to assist you. It’s easy: Go to LinkedIn, complete your PROFESSIONAL profile (please use proper punctuation/grammar), and search for the Hanover Career Alumni Network group, or search for my name/profile. Start a discussion by listing the types of traits you'd like your job to have and ask alumni to suggest fields that fit. They may even have job leads for you!
  • Are you still clueless? Consider taking the Strong Interest Inventory, offered free to students and alumni by appointment (phone consultations are possible). Email the Career Center to set up a time.