IN A popular American news tabloid, Dr. Herbert M. Greenburg (a psychologist and president of the Marketing Survey and Research Corporation), recently stated: "Four out of every five working Americans today are misemployed. They are doing jobs they are not suited for and are thus miserable. These people hate to get up in the morning and go to work. Once on the job, they can't wait to go home." As a result of interviews his firm has conducted with 250,000 employees from 4,000 different firms, he concluded that the real job problem in the United States is not unemployment, but misemployment. Dr. Greenburg believes that if a person likes his job he will want to do it well. He will be a winner if he finds his niche. Did you ever stop to think that upon graduation from high school you are going to be faced with one of the two or three most important decisions of your life — choosing your career — your life's work? Make the right choice and you will find your job interesting and fulfilling something to get wrapped up in, work that really "turns you on." Make a wrong choice and your entire outlook on life, your level of happiness and personality growth can be seriously damaged. Like the beer ad states: "You only go around once in life." And who wants to spend his forty or more working years so bored that most of the day is spent watching for the clock to strike five, signaling freedom — the end of another working day. What a bummer of a career if the coffee breaks at ten and two o'clock are the most exciting extravaganzas of the day. The Bible states that "Where there is no vision, the people perish..." (Prov. 29:18). Let's see how you can exercise vision in choosing your life's work and be among the 20% who actually enjoy their daily work. First, let's identify the problem. Why do some succeed while others fail? Why are some happy in their work and others are not? Mr. Herbert Armstrong pinpoints the answer in his autobiography. As a young success-minded businessman, he had observed numerous men begin in similar retail businesses with comparable capital and opportunity. In time some prospered, while others were constantly on the rocks. Why did some succeed and others fail? His conclusion was "... that the most important cause of failures was the fitting of the proverbial square peg in the round hole — in other words, so many men are misplaced — in the wrong line of business, for them..." (The Autobiography of Herbert W Armstrong [Pasadena, Calif.: Ambassador College Press, 1967), vol. I, p. 128). He summed it up. All too many people today are busily, but begrudgingly, toiling away at jobs for which they have little or no aptitude. And, of course, the best time for you to prevent this is before you step into the labor market! How have some of your friends chosen vocations? Or how do you plan to decide when the time comes? Check the following list of reasons and ways people fall into jobs. If some of them look logical to you, then the greater the need for you to read the rest of this article. 1) You did well in high school in a particular subject and have decided to make that your major in college. 2) Someone you know liked his job so you think you will try it. 3) The career offers status and will prove to friends and foes alike that you have made it big. 4) The career offers very high financial rewards — you will be "rolling in dough" before you are 25. 5) Your parents want you to pursue a certain career because "we've always had one in the family." Let me emphasize that most of these points are very valid factors to consider in your choice, but not the main ones. None of them should be principal, deciding factors. Then where do you start?
Human Engineering Laboratories, which was set up by the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation and which has fifty years of research and experience in aptitude testing, has found that aptitudes (specialized talents or abilities) are present and fixed at birth. They are inherited, inborn traits — 19 of which they can isolate and measure. Many of the people they have tested possess many high aptitudes, but use very few of them in their jobs. Some use none at all. The result: restlessness and discontent. Researchers have found that unused aptitudes cause unrest and dissatisfaction. Remember, we cannot create totally new aptitudes within ourselves, nor destroy the ones we were born with. Therefore it only makes sense to find out our strong aptitudes and use them to our benefit. In other words, use our strengths instead of our weaknesses. Several sources of free testing exist. If you are in high school or college, by all means talk to your counselor first. Most public schools have an aptitude testing and counseling program. The General Aptitude Test Battery, or "Gatby," is the test you will most likely take. Your school may also offer interest tests, such as the Strong's Vocational Interest or the Kuder Preference Test. These may be valuable when evaluated in conjunction with your aptitude test and the counselor's evaluation. This leads to the key factor in aptitude testing.
Without a highly trained and experienced counselor, an aptitude test can be useless — even misleading. Here are three things to look for: 1) A competent counselor should be a specialist, usually possessing an accredited degree in psychological or vocational counseling. 2) The qualified counselor should also have work experience or practical knowledge of many careers and occupations. 3) A counselor should be uninfluenced by any personal likes, dislikes or prejudices he may harbor toward you. Your counselor should discuss your past successes and failures, your aspirations, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc. — to get to know and help you as a unique individual.
If you are not in high school or college, you should be able to take the Gatby test (free of charge) at a state employment agency. The one weakness here is often the lack of personal attention and less experienced counselors. Of course, many private organizations give varying versions and qualities of aptitude tests. They can be especially useful in determining specific aptitudes for the professions or for business careers. These private agencies usually test for more specific aptitudes such as deductive and analytical reasoning, creativity and abstract visualization. They analyze this data and then can suggest a number of vocations or careers which require specific abilities. Many individuals find that the standard Gatby test helps them most. Others find that a private agency is more helpful. A reputable one, such as Human Engineering Laboratories, charges about $200 for fifteen to twenty hours of intensive testing. This includes personal and confidential counseling sessions, some of which can be tape recorded for a client's future reference. Some of the larger universities also offer extensive services which may be worth investigating. If you live in a fairly large city, you should be able to find testing agencies under the heading of "Vocational Guidance" in the Yellow Pages of your telephone book. You can also check with the American Personnel and Guidance Association; 1607 New Hampshire Avenue, NW; Washington, D.C. 20009 for a reputable agency near you. Thoroughly check and compare before you pay a large amount of money for a test.
If you investigate aptitude testing, sooner or later you will run into interest tests. They measure just what the name implies — not aptitudes, but your interests. Many times these tests are given in conjunction with aptitude tests. Remember, interest tests do not measure aptitudes. Therefore, you should not base your decision about a career on an interest test alone. They are valuable to verify aptitude tests, however. If you want to read an excellent book about the Human Engineering Laboratories' findings and approach to testing aptitudes, you might want to pick up a copy of Be Yourself, by Margaret E. Broadley, published by Robert B. Luce, Inc. Margaret Broadley is a professional writer who took tests with Human Engineering Laboratories and then wrote a book about their work. Check your local library or bookstore. In his book Round Pegs in Square Holes, Orison S. Marden quotes a writer as saying: "Nature has armed you with some faculty, some quality, some force which enables you to do one thing better than anyone else. Your business is to discover what that thing is and then discover its worth to society... the better you can do your work, the higher its quality, the greater the need it supplies, the greater will be your reward ..." (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., p. 209). You may already know your abilities. You may know exactly what kind of career you want to pursue. That's fine. But if you don't know or haven't even thought about it yet, you might want to look into aptitude testing — along with getting counsel from parents, high school counselors and others who you know and trust.
A Bible Principle
"... With the well advised is wisdom" (Prov. 13:10). Throughout the book of Proverbs, God stresses going into situations with your eyes open. In other words, think things through, get advice from those who should know, evaluate the situation for yourself and count the cost after prayer and meditation concerning your background, character, personality, talents and abilities. Be sure to pray to God to direct you during this whole procedure involving interviews, counseling and finding useful books and materials about suitable careers. Remember, God very carefully chose the men He has used for specific jobs in the past. He is an expert in putting round pegs in round holes. And aptitude tests can be an invaluable help!