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Minnesota Career Development Association

Musings on Skills and Careers, Part 1: Find The Good Place

By Paul Sears, WorkForce Center Staff


Once I worked for a manager who had what I thought an extremely enlightened approach to assigning tasks.

My boss’s philosophy was: to the greatest degree possible, assign work to people that allows them to use their best and favorite skills.

No wonder my boss was overwhelmingly popular.

Imagine being paid to do what you like doing. How great is that?

Of course, no job is perfect, so out comes my editing pencil: Make that, “paid for doing what you like most of the time.”

It’s not hard to find workplace satisfaction studies pointing out how the majority of Americans don’t like their jobs. Tune in to any radio station on Monday and hear announcers’ condolences. By Friday, it’s celebration time.

How do we steer our clients toward work that doesn’t make Monday’s arrival a cause of great distress?

Actually, the notion of work as a source of self-actualization wasn’t an expectation back when most workers had but two options: the farm or the factory.

With occupations in the world of work now exceeding 30,000, we have overwhelming career choices.

That’s a nicer problem to have, but still a problem.

This three-circle diagram has gotten lots of circulation lately. You may have seen variations on this diagram, but each drives home the same point.


If you’ve ever finished a day’s work totally disgusted with what you had to spend time doing, you can appreciate the meaning of the bottom right circle.

Please, let it be Friday!

Miss the bottom left circle, and you’re cranking out junk instead of what you’re good at doing. Miss the top circle, and you don’t have a job in the first place.

Only when we hit the center ─ where the three circles meet and our best, favorite and marketable job skills are in play ─ are we in a good place.

In the next section of this article, I’ll describe a tool and method used across Minnesota to help job seekers find the center of the circle.

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