When looking for your dream job as an HSP, there is a difference between what your soul is telling you and what your ego is telling you.
With the year coming to a close in a few months, you may be thinking about New Year’s resolutions and what types of changes you’d like to make come next year. And if you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP), you’re likely a deep thinker and don’t take any decision-making lightly.
So you may look back at this past year and analyze various aspects of your life, from your interpersonal relationships to your hobbies to your career. Regarding the latter, do you still like your job? Is it fulfilling? Are you living your purpose?
Several months ago, I had to ask myself those questions — and more — when I changed jobs. I truly had to do a lot of self-analyzing in order to make the right decision. In case you, too, are facing a job or career change, I’d like to share the steps I took that led me to my decision and hope they’ll help you, too.
7 Steps to Take to Find Your Dream Job as an HSP
1. Ask yourself: Who am I?
Since HSPs are so in tune with their emotions and intuition, the first step is to be truly honest with yourself about what you want — and need — in a job. Finding your purpose as a highly sensitive person is important, as well as essential to your happiness and feeling fulfilled by the work you do. Really do some soul-searching at this stage.
So ask yourself questions like this to get started:
- Who are you?
- What makes you you?
- What kind of person are you?
- Do you actually like working with people, or would you rather work with animals? Do you not mind commuting to work (via driving or public transportation), or would you rather be able to cycle or walk to work?
- What do you need to function properly in a work environment?
- What do you really desire in a job and what makes your skin crawl?
- How will you connect with your colleagues without losing your own identity?
- How has the HSP part of your personality helped you in your career, and on which front has it made your job challenging for you?
Don’t reply with answers that you feel you need to, or should, give. That won’t do you any good, for it is important to really get to know your “go”s and “no-go”s. For instance, for me, I realized I’d need kind coworkers and a quiet workplace. (My HSP brain gets overstimulated enough, so quiet is key!)
Another example is that I have a degree in teaching elementary school, but dreaded it and quit after seven months. (You can just imagine how overwhelming such a job can be for sensitive types!) But a few years ago, I started teaching gymnastics and love it. Yes, the study was challenging — and I needed to find my inner button to be more strict with the little girls (boundaries can be tough to set as an HSP!) — but I enjoy it so much and still learn a lot. So I learned that a job which involves children is not a bad match — just not one that’s six hours a day in front of 30 of them.
When getting to know your desires, wishes, and fears, I feel there is a difference between what your soul is telling you and what your ego is telling you. Your soul is pure, the real you. Whereas your ego is the part of you that is created by influences from parents, siblings, teachers, peers, and so on: “You need to achieve a high salary — you can’t be an artist for a living.” Or “You need to buy a big house — you need the status and can’t keep renting.” All these things are beliefs imposed by others. So investigate if you agree. Do you really believe that? And if so, why?
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2. What are your likes and dislikes?
So now that you’ve really laid your soul out on the table and know what your heart is dreaming of, it’s time to go to the next step: Explore your career history. What kind of jobs did you like, and why? And what element(s) made it enjoyable for you? And not?
After I quit my job as a teacher, I spent quite a few years working at a daycare center and with kids after school. What I really liked was the movement in the job. I had to pick up the kids from school, we would play, do craft activities, and spend time outside. Being active pleases me, so these were important aspects of the job that I enjoyed.
And then move on to the bad experiences. What jobs still give you nightmares, and why? Was it the tasks you had to perform, was it the people you worked with, was it the environment? I have had my share of shady businesses and bosses that would look good in The Devil Wears Prada, so I have discovered situations (and people) I need to stay away from. Plus, we highly sensitive people generally don’t do well in environments where we’re often criticized. I know nobody would like that, but I feel such toxic behavior gets into an HSP’s core even more so, which makes the job at hand all the more difficult.
3. Break down your job “demands” into several small elements.
In step three, it’s time to do even more analyzing, a deeper dive into the above. I find it’s best if you break down your demands into several small elements. After all, certain things may affect us HSPs more so than non-HSPs, so it’s important to take those into consideration — the less overwhelm, the better!
Here are some example questions to ask yourself.
- What is an acceptable travel distance to the job?
- How many hours do you want to work? Minimum? Maximum? And daytime only? Or do you accept (or prefer) evening tasks?
- Big company? Small organization?
- What is the minimum salary that is acceptable to you? (Really do some calculations here!)
- Do you want to be part of a big team? Or do more solo work?
- Would you like to make work decisions on your own? Or follow somebody else’s lead?
- Do you prefer doing small tasks? Or tackling big projects?
- Do you need room to grow and the possibility of getting promoted?
- How much responsibility do you want on your plate?
- What is it you want to do and what should your job responsibilities look like (ideally)?
- What makes you happy? Juggling multiple projects? Analyzing data? Helping others? Being creative? In essence, what makes your heart glow?
- What kind of workplace do you envision while visualizing your dream job?
- Do you want to sit behind a desk? Be on the move? Would you mind traveling for work?
- Are you looking for extra perks, too, such as health insurance, bonuses, discounts, a free gym, and so on?
Of course, there are many more questions you can ask yourself, too, but the above should at least get you thinking about your dream job wants and needs.
4. Make a dream job “wish list.”
Now that you’ve thought about the above, write it all down (preferably, on index cards) and make your dream job “wish list.”
Next, write down each job “element” on a different card. So “close to home” on one and “solo work” on the other, for example.
With these cards, we will play a game. Choose two cards randomly and put them next to each other. Get in touch with your heart and soul and honestly answer the question: Which is more important? If you really had to choose between these two elements, which one would you choose?
Then set aside the chosen card and take another card from your pile and repeat the process. What this will do is determine your utter most important wish. This will be #1 on your list of dream job priorities.
Repeat the process with the remaining cards and discover what your #2 is, and so forth.
You will end up with a wish list ranked from most important to least important. Although I wish it were so, you may not find a job that has all the perks you desire. But by playing this game, you will definitely figure out what’s most important to you, which will lead to a job that has most of what you need.
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5. Seek (your dream job) and you will find it.
In this step, you will compare your wish list with the job offers out there. Which one matches the most? Which one a little less? How does the job score on your wish list — does it include your Top 3? Personally, I think you shouldn’t consider a job that does not include your Top 3. At some point, you will be in the same position as now: Longing for something else and out there looking… again.
Another thing to do is talk to people with the sort of jobs you are exploring. Ask them about all the ins and outs, the good and the bad. Think about these responses alongside your soul-searching discoveries. Then ask yourself: Will this job fit your personality? (On paper, you may have thought so, but in talking to others, you may realize that there’s more to it.)
6. It’s not about you — it’s about them.
A big game-changer for me was the concept of viewing the company as a candidate. It is not about them liking me (okay a little… ha-ha!), but it soon became about me liking them! And, of course, in a challenging job market, you may need to be less strict with your desires if paying the mortgage is dependent on it.
I’m sure you can relate to this, the feeling of sitting there in the interview room, being anxious and so conscious about what you do, what you say, and how you look. What if you turned the tables on them?
Try to think: You are great the way you are and they would be lucky to have you on their team. So, see? It is about them.
Somehow, companies think they can ask anything of their employees, that they should be thankful to even have a job. Are they forgetting that without people working for them, they would have absolutely nothing? No business, no customers, no profit, no status.
Instead, try to look at a job as a fair transaction. You will spend your time, and use your amazing HSP gifts, to help the company prosper. In return, you’ll get paid. The deal is one of equality. So if you meet a potential manager and feel smaller, insignificant, or anxious, it is not the right match for you. Like with other relationships, you should get a good feeling about the person/company, not a bad one.
Also, pay attention to how you are treated during the whole process of applying for the job. What kind of response did you receive? I once got the reply, “If you don’t hear from us, you will not be invited for an interview.” I thought that if a company does not even take the time and respect to simply send me a rejection email, they are not worth my energy and time. So look for little red flags like this — which are indicative of larger ones!
And be aware of how the people you talk to act around you. Do they speak fondly of their coworkers? Does the manager express proudness when talking about the team? Are they interested in you as a person?
A job interview is not only an opportunity for the company to ask you questions, but you should also ask questions.
Ask things like:
- What will be some challenges of this job?
- How are conflicts between coworkers resolved?
- What does the future of the team/company look like?
- What management style is applied?
- What do you like about working here?
- How would you describe the work/office culture?
- What would you like to change about the organization?
The more questions you can think of, the better. And pay attention to how the hiring manager responds, nonverbally (like through their body language) as much as verbally.
In essence, try to have a balanced conversation (more so than an “interview”). This will result in you knowing what the manager will expect of you, as well as what you can expect from them. Plus, they will probably appreciate your thoroughness in asking so many questions!
7. Follow your heart, for it truly knows what you want.
All in all, listen to the old adage: “Follow your heart.”
In the process of finding my current job, I followed the steps above. Although the job I took included working in an open office of about 12 desks, I took it anyway and told my bosses about my issues with noise. (HSPs are sensitive to noise, as you probably know!) And you know what? They gave me the most silent place in the office and gave me the option of working from home. So, fellow HSPs, speak up!
This process taught me to stick to my beliefs, stay true to myself, follow my heart, and ask for what I need. And you should, too! You never know what you will receive unless you ask for it. And let me tell you: You wholeheartedly deserve it, every bit of it! Start believing this!
Do you have any tips for fellow HSP’son their path toward their dream job? Please share them with us in the comments below!