How To Figure Out Which Job You’ll Excel At

Learn to be successful in your career by playing to your strengths.

Work Your Strengths
This is a guest post by Chuck Martin. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Chuck's latest book is Work Your Strengths, based on a 2-year global study he conducted with the help of more than 100 researchers to determine the cognitive characteristics of high performing people in business.

Tomorrow (June 23, 2010 at 9pm Israel time, 2pm EST) on JobMob, I will announce a quick, easy-to-win contest where I will be giving away free copies of the book. Don't miss it!

Which of the 12 Executive Skills do you have?

Everyone is born with a set of cognitive functions called “Executive Skills”, because they help people execute tasks.

There are 12 of these skills and certain ones are found more frequently than others in certain jobs or functions.

Each person typically has 2 or 3 of these brain functions that they are strong in and 2 or 3 that are their inherent weaknesses.

These skills are:

1) Response Inhibition

The ability to think before you act.

2) Working Memory

The ability to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks.

3) Emotional Control

Ability to manage emotions to achieve a goal or complete tasks.

4) Sustained Attention

Capacity to maintain attention to a task in spite of distractibility.

5) Task Initiation

Ability to start projects with undue procrastination.

6) Planning/Prioritization

Capacity to develop a roadmap to arrive at a destination or goal.

7) Organization

Ability to arrange or place according to a system.

8) Time Management

Capacity to estimate how much time one has and allocate it well.

9) Goal-Directed Persistence

Capacity to have a goal and follow through to completion.

10) Flexibility

Ability to revise plans in face of setbacks.

11) Metacognition

Capacity to stand back and take a bird’s-eye view of yourself to make changes in how you solve problems.

12) Stress Tolerance

Ability to thrive in stressful situations.

It is likely that you can read the descriptions and determine most of your own strengths and weaknesses. Always on time? Strong in Time Management. Speak too soon? Low in Response Inhibition. And so on.

If a certain job matches a person’s strengths, it is what we call a goodness of fit situation. And when this happens, the job is much more natural for the person since the tasks align with how the person’s brain is hardwired from birth.

When certain jobs require what are a person’s inherent weaknesses, those are called effortful tasks since they are unnatural for that person.

The key for career success

Sooner or later in a career, a person will generally come across both situations, those that fit their Executive Skills and those that don’t.

The key for career success is knowing which situation is which and acting accordingly.

For example, when certain jobs require a person’s weaknesses, there are several options:

  • Do those tasks first while fresh, since they will require more energy.
  • Find someone who is strong in that Executive Skills, and delegate the tasks to that person, since it will be more natural for them.
  • Partner with someone with opposite strengths and weakness, and have each party focus on tasks that align with their strengths.

The ultimate solution is to maneuver into positions that play to strengths. This works for interacting with and managing others as well.

Along a career, a person will meet people with some of the same strengths as well as some with the same weaknesses as them. Career success can depend on who gets which tasks and who faces the best ‘goodness of fit’ situations.

Those with a match of Executive Skills strengths and job can end up as the perfect fit.

About the author

Chuck MartinChuck Martin is a New York Times business best-selling author, noted researcher, speaker and business strategist. He is the Director of the Center for Media Research, MediaPost Communications in New York and CEO of NFI Research, where he surveys senior executives and managers around the world on a regular basis. He has written eight business books including Work Your Strengths. He can be reached at chuck@nfiresearch.com, his Web site is www.nfiresearch.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @chuckmartin1.

If you found this article useful, you'll also enjoy Hard Time Choosing A Career? Try Them All, Like Sean Aiken.

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