The 4 career-searching personalities


I’ve been thinking about different attitudes to building fulfilling career paths, and I’ve come up with these 4 categories:

Decided Undecided
Starter Know where they want to be and on the path to get there Don’t know but are exploring options proactively and linking interests
Settler Know but unsure how and/or unwilling to put the work in to get there Don’t know where they want to be and aren’t making an effort to work it out

The decided starter – you know the type, have known since childhood exactly what they want to be without even needing to consider other options out there, usually studying something vocational, e.g. medicine, teaching. These people can be pretty irritating. Who wants to hear from someone who has their whole life planned out and is completely content with their decision? Well actually it is kind of nice to know there are people in this world who know what they’re doing. Good for them.

The undecided starter – now you can’t be annoyed with this type, they don’t have a clue but they’re doing their best to work it out. I’d say these people are pretty inspiring, they admit they’re not perfect but they’re not just sitting back and hoping for the best, they’re out there trying things out and building a path for themselves. And this is one major way in which they differ from decided starters: they’re creating their own path, not following a predefined one.

The decided settler – this type is frustrating, they know what they want to be doing, you know they know what they want to be doing, but they’re not doing it. Why? Fear of failure, lack of encouragement, laziness? Whatever it is it’s not a good enough reason for them to settle for something that’s not on the path to what they really want. You want them to make the effort, to work at their dream, but it feels like they’ve just given up and are simply sitting back and waiting for something to fall into their lap.

The undecided settler – they don’t have a clue, and because of this you do feel for them, finding the right path for yourself isn’t easy. It’s discouraging to come across this type, they seem lost and unsure where to start. But it’s a small step to go from undecided settler to undecided starter.

I know which category I want to be in.

4 comments on “The 4 career-searching personalities

  1. Great post! I’ve never really thought about the personalities that go with career searching, but I think you’re spot on. I’d categorize myself as an undecided starter for the most part. Every now and then I slip into undecided settler mode because, well, blazing your trail can become exhausting and it’s easy to get lost.

    Now that I have a full-time job, but not one that I really enjoy, I keep finding other things I could be doing and almost wishing I’d be fired. When I first started working there were layoffs and I was really nervous about losing my job a few months in. But now I keep thinking things like, man, if I were laid off I could get my teaching certificate or apply for this unpaid internship that could lead to a job in a field I’m interested in. The grass is always greener, I guess.

    • Undecided starter is definitely the place to be :) though you’re right that it’s difficult to stay there!

      The grass really is always greener, and I know what you mean about wishing for a change to force you to take major action. Before I got my current job, which fortunately I’m happy with at the moment, I kept thinking that if I wasn’t offered anything within the next few months I’d just take a risk and sign up for a masters or go and teach abroad – things I still hope to do, but that will now wait until I’ve built up some more work experience and credibility in my current role.

      I guess the difficulty is knowing when the right time to move on is in order to stay in the starter rather than settler category!

  2. This post offers me so many insights! I’m actually going through a transition point with my blog and am doing exercises to think about what my goals are with the site and who I think my audience is. Your styles are going to help me greatly as I do that thinking. I realize now that I’ve been bouncing around trying to talk to all three of the types who aren’t the “decided starter,” which has left me (and probably my readers?) confused.

    I’m definitely an undecided starter myself, and those people are the most fun to work with and be around IMO (see Life on a Branch and you as two prime examples!), but I also want to reach out to move the settler types along, too. Thank you SO much for this post; it really gets me thinking.

    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful :) I hadn’t thought about how each type would benefit from different advice – but the starter and settler definitely have very different mindsets.

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