Working with People
There are three main types of work, working with inanimate things, such as computers, working with animals and working with people. Some people will take a job because it is on offer, others will focus specifically on what they wish to do and go for that job. But before deciding on a job that you wish to focus on, it is important to determine whether you are really suited for the type of work you are interested in.
For example, Evie loves animals and has since early childhood. She has a wide variety of pets and decides she wants to be a veterinarian when she leaves school. She does some work experience in a vet’s surgery and becomes extremely upset when the vet has to euthanize a dog. She then decides that working as a vet is not for her. She looks at alternative jobs working with pets before deciding she wishes to work at a dog re-homing centre for dogs that have been abused or abandoned. If Evie had not had the work experience in the vets, she may have spent years training to be a vet only to find that it is not a suitable career for her.
Evie is obviously working with animals, but the same applies for working with people. Before starting any career, it is important to determine where your skills lie. If you are good at talking to people, encouraging them to do things, then sales and marketing may be for you, but if you are good at talking, but not so good at encouraging them to buy, then other areas of working with people may be better for you.
So before deciding if you want to work with people, you have to think carefully about this.
- Are you good with people?
- Do you enjoy talking to people?
- Do you enjoy being with people?
- Do you become uncomfortable walking into a room alone?
- Are you uncomfortable standing in front of a group of people?
- Are you able to talk to strangers or do you prefer working with people you know?
- Do you prefer working one to one with people?
- Do you like working in a group situation?
- Do you like helping other people to learn and change?
- Do you like giving people knowledge?
- Do you like helping people to solve problems?
Think about all these questions. They may not all be relevant, but think carefully about where your skills and challenges lie, and where you feel you will be happiest.
For example, if you do not like talking to groups of people, then maybe teaching is not the role for you. BUT saying that, people can change and develop, so can develop the skills they require to work in different roles.
Becky wanted to be a teacher but hated socialising with groups, she became very shy and stuttered. She decided to try to work on this and began to train as a teacher. She actually found that she really enjoyed the showmanship/showwomanship aspect of teaching and loved teaching the children. Teaching children or adults is a different situation to socialising with other people in groups, so do not discount something in one setting because you are not comfortable in another.
So it is essential to think about what you are good at, what you are not good at and what you could improve at.
Be realistic – about both your abilities and the actual job role. Being realistic about your abilities will help you to highlight areas that you may need to improve on. It is good to be aware of this from the beginning so you can make improvements and work towards where you need to be. Also, be realistic about the job you are aiming for. It is easy to romanticise about the things you would love about your dream job, but don’t ignore the aspects that may not be as enjoyable. For example if you want to run your own business you may only consider how nice it would be to be your own boss, without considering what it will be like to have the responsibility of a business, pay taxes, and so on. Don’t be put off by the challenges, but make sure you do consider them so you can decide whether the less pleasant aspects are acceptable to you.
Your first step is to make sure you are suited to the type of work you are interested in.
When you are sure that you are confident at working with people, then move onto Step 2, ensuring you have the people skills to work with people. These may involve learning more about psychology, more about how we communicate, good communication, counselling skills, writing and reporting skills and so on.
At Step 3, you need to capitalize on your complementary skills. Think what skills you already have that go with the people skills you want to develop. For example, perhaps you have worked with young people in other settings, such as a youth worker, but now want to move into marketing. Perhaps you could use your skills of working with young people to improve your advertising and marketing for products aimed at younger people.
Perhaps you have good writing skills, you could link this to people skills and work within careers counselling, helping younger people to write their resumes/curriculum vitaes and so on.
So as well as considering your people skills, consider your other skills and how they complement the skills you need to work with people.
HOW TO LEARN MORE
Read a book, do a course, join an organisation; talk to people with an industry background
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