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David Sovka: How to pick a career, or why what you love to do is not an actual job

Your passions are probably not relevant to your job search unless you’re really into accounting or industrial vacuuming
If you’re asked about your goals in a job interview, just say “work-life ­balance” and tell the Strategic HR lady that you left the vision board explaining your goals at home because it is too large to take on the bus, writes David Sovka. VIA WWW.AMTEC.US.COM

Last week, my grandson Nikolai graduated from preschool. The emcee — yes, of course there is a formal ceremony for being too old to stay in preschool — announced that Nikolai wants to be an entomologist when he grows up. Wow: a bug scientist!

This impressed me because most of the other ­graduating children want to be preschool teachers, the main career you come across by age four, along with “mom,” “dad,” and “mom’s special friend, Steve.”

His sister Lily tells me she wants to be a cheetah. Dominic, my youngest grandchild, is currently ­holding his cards pretty close to the vest, but based on ­impressive noise-making, I suspect he wants to be a fire engine when he grows up.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions of every individual’s life, which is a lot of pressure.

For example, what if you ­accidentally pick a career that does not come with a fully stocked office supply cabinet? Or what if you have to put up with coworkers AND pay taxes?

Good news! I’m here to help you pick your dream career with a few, key considerations to, uh… consider.

Your passions and skills

How does that famous phrase go? “Pick a job you love, and you’ll never have to ­something, something?”

Was it commute? Attend long ­meetings? The exact reference eludes me at the moment, but anyway, isn’t love grand?

What do you really love to do? I love to sleep in, then drink a lot of ­coffee.

I know this is irrelevant information to you choosing a career, but so is asking yourself what you really love to do.

What you really love to do is probably not a job, unless you really love accounting or ­industrial ­vacuuming, in which case you are crazy. Pick ­something else.

The part about your skills is also a little misleading.

Let’s say you happen to be really, really good at ­predicting whether or not your wife is going to be mad at you when she gets home from work.

Or that you are pretty much an expert at making hilarious noises using only your large intestine.

Unfortunately, no jobs here, pick something else.

Your personality

Now we’re into the real meat of how best to choose a career, because knowing what makes you you will help steer your career choice almost as effectively as being born a white male!

Let’s say you are a painfully shy introvert. A natural career for you might include things like librarian, software engineer or online troll.

On the other hand, if you’re a bombastic, ­perpetually-off-your-meds extrovert, you might best be suited to something in sales, or maybe Strategic HR, whatever that is.

If you’re not sure whether you are an ­introvert or an extrovert, think about where you get your energy.

Extroverts get energy from lots of social interaction, whereas introverts prefer quiet time to recharge. I should clarify that if you get your energy from the sun, you are probably a house plant.

In any case, these are ­simplifications of actual ­personality types.

My son and his wife made me take a more complicated personality assessment with 16 different labels. If you are interested, the free test is at the website, which will assign you a mysterious personality acronym like ­INTJ-A or ESTJ-Q.

I don’t remember what any of this means, but ­whenever somebody asks, I tell them a different bunch of random letters and enjoy the reaction.

I know what you’re thinking about this more ­complicated personality assessment: I should go to ­better parties, where nobody asks you about your ­personality.

Your goals

What do you most want out of a career? Write that down. Then, never ever share it with anybody, because you can’t say things like that out loud!

Sure, we all want to be fantastically wealthy and ­forever cruise the sun-dappled seas of self-­aggrandizing power over others! Also: supermodels! Am I right? Who is with me? … Hello?

OK, so just say “work-life balance” and then ­mumble something about “community,” and tell the ­Strategic HR lady that you left the vision board explaining your goals at home because it is too large to take on the bus.

That should safely keep the conversation away from your actual life goals, which are a) none of anybody’s business; and b) embarrassing and potentially criminal, just like everybody else’s life goals.

Your values

What do you value the most when it comes to finding a career? Hahahaha, I’m just kidding!

When it comes to finding a career, everybody’s number-one value is not having to eat cat food, followed closely by paying the rent on time.

It’s nice to believe that employers care about your values, but remember they are people, too, and once had to answer interview questions about their values, so should know better.

My point is that nobody actually cares what type of work culture or leadership structure you thrive in.

If there are “deal breakers” that arise from your ­personal convictions, don’t bring them up because ­normal people don’t do that, not if they want to land the job and thrive in a career.

The rest of finding and thriving in a career is just going through the motions. You know, interviewing people in different careers and other deep research to try and future-proof your prospects in rapidly changing economic conditions, then years and years of ­education and professional training, followed by hard work ­sweating away the decades, hoping for ­advancement just to keep up with the cost of living. That kind of thing.

Then, at the end of your long and deeply ­rewarding career, you can sit back, relax and wish that you had picked something like cheetah or fire engine, after all.

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