Let’s find your ideal job:

  1. At work do you prefer to:
    1. Be told clearly what to do and how.
    2. Be left to decide for yourself what needs to be done.
  2. When do you think you’re at your best at work:
    1. When I get peace and quiet to concentrate.
    2. When I’m brainstorming new ideas with colleagues.
  3. What sort of work do you enjoy:
    1. Predicable tasks that you can build a routine around.
    2. Constant change and unpredictability.
  4. When your boss and work colleagues share information with you, do you prefer:
    1. Polite, gentle, and encouraging feedback
    2. Brutal honesty and transparency
  5. When you think of your career, do you:
    1. Measure it largely by maximising the return on your time/experience.
    2. Think that the impact of your work should be more important than money.
  6. When you think of companies you’d like to work for:
    1. Are you comfortable working for anyone so long as the pay is right.
    2. Are you very clear who you’d never work for.

Decoding our quiz

Some of you will have found those questions very easy, others will have vacillated over 2 or 3.  That is to be expected. Like in romance, the laws of job attraction can be mysterious and perplexing. However, we promised you a quiz, and you will now expect answers. So… here we go:

The mechanic - It’s just a job: Those of you who selected (a) as answers fit the profile of many, particularly, British workers. Clarity, predictability, politeness, while leveraging a well-paid job to support a family or enable something else you really care about, is the classic motivation for work.

The contrarian - Work is life: At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who selected (b) across the board. In many ways employment isn’t something that works well for you. You really have many of the characteristics of an entrepreneur… someone who wants to be their own boss, live by their own rules, and chase a grand dream.

The competitor - Work is a challenge: In between the two extremes, are those of us who blur the lines. If you selected a mix of (a) and (b), this is probably you. You tend to take the view if something is worth doing… its worth doing well. You want to challenge yourself to find out your limits, to see how far you can go. To do that, you marry together some of the creative aspects of the contrarians with the grounded pragmatism of the mechanics.

So, who’s your ideal job partner?

Clearly, it will depend on your individual preferences. Traditionally we would say that all jobs have certain hygiene factors to them. Everyone wants to be fairly paid, work in a safe and respectful environment, have a good boss, and enjoy some affiliation with colleagues. So, if we put aside the basics, we can look to infer what our quiz tells us about what might inspire our three personalities to love their jobs:

The mechanics and accountancy: Ok…it may be a stereotype. But, if you’re looking for a well-paid job with clear demarcations, rules, authority figures, and billable hours, surely this it! Mechanics like predictability, they want to be paid well and then go home. Consequently, double entry bookkeeping fits the bill.

Second choices might include, corporate middle management, remote working data analysts and coders, civil servants, patent and estate attorneys, and most administration roles.

The contrarians and start-ups: If you want unpredictability, ambiguity, dynamic workdays, working for a start-up is a perfect fit. Contrarians also want to fight for a cause, so ideally the start-up should be focused on changing something consequential like climate, justice, poverty, or improving human existence.

Second choices might include, artistic professions, entrepreneurs, media and advertising, inventors, mad/misunderstood scientists, and super villains.

The competitors and investigative reporting: Obviously it makes sense that competitors would want a profession that requires them to be quick studies in lots of new subjects, figuring out and exposing major stories.

Second choices might include detectives, activist investors, sports personalities, Olympians, ethical politicians, and writers of career advice books for NextGen leaders.

But seriously… do we need another career and job quiz?

You will have figured out by now that our article is something of a satirical take on job and career quizzes. A basic Google search gets you a staggering 2 billion suggestions if you are of such a mind.

There is, however, substance to our quiz questions. We would use versions of this list when trying to help people structure high quality career plans. The big difference is we wouldn’t force the answers to be binary or make the fast leaps into the suggested professions. The truth is that it’s companies and organisations that create distinctive work cultures. So, we will concede that there may be some accounting firms that offer something for the contrarians and perhaps some start-ups that offer clear structure for the mechanics.

Moreover, we take the subject of making good career decisions very seriously. Work is central to our existence. It is something we all have in common. Over the course of our lives, each of us spends over 90,000 hours at work. Surely, we owe it to ourselves, if not to find work we love, then at least work that brings us, directly or indirectly…  joy.

Dr David Oxley and Dr Helmut Schuster are co-authors of A Career Carol: A Tale of Professional Nightmares and How to Navigate Them, published by Austin Macauley Publishers and available on Amazon.