What careers or occupations might my friend be well suited for?
February 26, 2010 5:07 PM   Subscribe

What careers or occupations might my friend be well suited for? She is looking to make a career change and came to me for help brainstorming. (And now we're coming to you!) Here's what she has to say:

I'm looking to make a career transition. I took the Highlands Ability Battery (Sample PDF Report) to get a better understanding of natural abilities and rated high in:

- Have a need for problem solving as a foundation of the work being done.
- Can easily see patterns and relationships among data and objects.
- Can get easily bored in positions that require routine work.
- Able to quickly summarize a set of points and jump to the end of an argument.
- Roles that include rapid-fire problem solving, fixing, advice-giving or consulting tend to use the classification ability.

Idea Productivity
- Can generate plenty of ideas and able to concentrate, focus, and follow though on details.
- Will get restless over time in a role with very little change or opportunity for idea production.

Additional Factors
- I have an orientation of about 50/50 when it comes to preference for independent work and group work, so I can function as a "specialist" or "generalist".
- A role with the ability to function as both a specialist and a generalist is ideal.
- I will get restless over time in a role with very little change or opportunity for idea production.
- I don't want to travel continuously (e.g., road warrior consultant)
- I'm not interested in doing software development (programming)
- I Have an MBA and several years of experience in mid-career/management roles

I have picked up some skills from my current career, but I'd like some help thinking about careers independently of what I'm doing now. What career choices/specific jobs would you recommend I consider given that I'd like to use the above criteria in a career/job?
posted by braveterry to Work & Money (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Your analysis of the above reminds me of the classic career choices book What Color Is Your Parachute?. It helps you analyse what you're good at & enjoy, and then what types of jobs this works well with -- it might have some suggestions for you.

Similarly, is there a component or follow up to the Highlands Battery that matches you with suggested careers?

I must suggest because I love my own career! - have you looked into library & information studies? Your comments about problem solving, variety, consulting, and specialist/generalist made me think of this.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 5:22 PM on February 26, 2010

The thing to came to my mind is Operations, but there's an additional question about what kind of leadership role, if any, your friend wants to have.

But the bigger thing is -- what does she like? What industries is she interested in? What kinds of people does she like? What was her undergrad major? When is she happiest? What kind of office culture suits her? How much money does she need to make? What does she want to wear to work?

Those are great attributes, but they'd work in a variety of contexts and it's hard to give advice without knowing more about who she is, skills assessment aside.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:23 PM on February 26, 2010

Trial lawyer.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:33 PM on February 26, 2010

Hard (bio/med, chem, physics) research sciences sounds like a perfect fit - except that it'll take a lot of years in school being poor, a lot of years in high intensity jobs being poor, and maybe landing something that pays an "adult salary."
posted by porpoise at 6:54 PM on February 26, 2010

Accounting & Finance Recruiter?
posted by ohyouknow at 7:15 PM on February 26, 2010

Interactive Business Analyst? Information Architect?
posted by lunalaguna at 7:37 PM on February 26, 2010

Industrial engineer with emphasis on human factors and user interfaces.
posted by jet_silver at 8:50 PM on February 26, 2010

Medical research is definitely an option. Your friend sounds like she would make a great research coordinator, or even researcher if she has the background and isn't too wed to the idea of managing people. And I disagree with porpoise on at least this slice of the research world: that only applies if you want to go all-out academic and be a PI. In medical research, at least, there are positions in between.
posted by McBearclaw at 11:29 PM on February 26, 2010

Except for her aversion to travel, your friend has one the best aligned consultative sales profiles I've ever read. If I were her friend, I'd really counsel her to re-evaluate her attitudes towards major travel, in terms of job requirements, and apply herself accordingly.
posted by paulsc at 11:32 PM on February 26, 2010

Reference Librarian. Hopefully with some cool projects, as well.
posted by Riverine at 8:15 AM on February 27, 2010

Idea 1: Everything about what you wrote screams computers except the fact that you don't want to do software development. You might want to try to get into something higher level like data mining, software engineering, etc.

Idea 2: Consultant for government agencies. Something like Booz-Allen-Hamilton if she's okay working with the Department of Defense, which is where most of the money is. Otherwise, there's plenty of consulting needed by agencies like Census, IRS, etc. It doesn't require a ton of travel if you live near DC or a couple of other locations. Good money, lots of variety, interesting work.
posted by callmejay at 8:53 AM on February 27, 2010

Program manager/product manager at a technology company comes to mind. The role goes by different titles in different places, but generally this is the person who drives the vision, functional definition and customer relationships for a product. In some places it swings more to the technology side, in some places more to the marketing side.

I became a PM after getting a CS degree because I didn't want to write code all day. It keeps me in touch with technology but I like the ability to split between specialist/generalist. That, plus your split between creativity and "making things happen" make me think you'd enjoy being a PM.
posted by rhiannon at 1:03 PM on February 27, 2010

Teacher! I changed careers four years ago from pharmaceutical advertising to teaching middle schoolers, and I was shocked by how demanding it is (in a good way). Sounds like it could be a good fit:
Curriculum/lesson planning requires ability to see patterns and connections, generating plenty of ideas, attention to detail and follow through, and--at least at my school--innovation with technology.
Assessment requires quick analysis and drawing conclusions, then follow-up and attention to detail (don't let those kids fall behind!).
The actual interaction with the kids in the classroom assures that every day is different and you will be constantly solving problems.
The best part for me is that now I'm using these skills to help kids instead of to sell drugs to doctors. Good luck!
posted by CuriousGeorge at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the ideas so far. They've led to some good discussions.

@SarahbytheSea The Highlands doesn't really call out specific occupations. My friend's profile does say that she would probably be very well suited to consulting work.

@A Terrible Llama My friend has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering. She prefers office environments over manufacturing environments. She likes working with professional specialists such as doctors, research scientists, and geeks in general. Otherwise, she has no strict criteria. She's just trying to generate some ideas at this stage.

@ohyouknow She says that she thinks that she would do well in recruiting.

@lunalaguna and @jet_silver She is very interested in the Information Architect and IE Human Factors roles. Do either of you recommend any resources for more information related to these areas?

@McBearclaw She's very interested in health care. The size and complexity of the industry make it difficult to enumerate the many roles people play in health care. There are probably a lot of jobs that she would be perfect for if she only knew what they were. She thinks she'd enjoy a role that would allow her to help facilitate communications among various parts of the health care system.
posted by braveterry at 7:40 PM on February 27, 2010

For more information on information architecture, she may want to check out IxDA.
posted by lunalaguna at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2010

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