Finding Your Niche

By: Fred Coon, Chairman, CEO

How many assignments did you have that you truly enjoyed? Assignments where you didn’t care how many hours you spent at work, they were all about the fun and actually put you into that old adage category of, “it’s not a job if you love it.” While most people were excited to move along to the next duty station, sometimes you almost hated to leave, because you relished the work so much.

When you have found such a position, you’ve found your niche. And if you haven’t found it yet, it’s time to do a little soul-searching. Sure, you can have more than one niche, if you’re very lucky or gifted. If it’s one thing the military has done for you, no matter your pay grade, it’s given you the opportunity to sample a number of different jobs, even if you have remained in the same specialty for your entire career. That is a gift to you. Still, if you haven’t discovered along the way the one or two things you’d do for free if you could afford it, it’s time to sit down with yourself.

Ask yourself the following questions. You can always add more, but these will get you started.

  • What makes me happy?
  • What 3 words would my troops use to describe me?
  • What 3 words would my peers use to describe me?
  • What 3 words would my supervisors use to describe me?
  • What are my values?
  • What things do I enjoy doing at work that I am good at?
  • What things do I hate doing at work?
  • What makes the time breeze by when I do it?
  • What do others tell me I’m good at?
  • What do I want to cultivate a reputation for?

These should help you come up with a number of possibilities that will lead you to some ideas for positions that would best suit you and you’d give your finest to. If you are in the hunt and looking for a job, this will help you find that work that you would be most excited about; that you will give superlative interviews for. An employer will see your eyes light up when asked questions about this niche, and it will the fact that you’ll give your top performance will be shine through.

How you generate this light, or this expansive presence, is important. You must remain professional yet obviously interested. It boils down to the way you’d like to be known or the impression you’d like to leave.

If you have the best of the worlds, a choice of employment, you can pick and choose the one that makes you smile wider when you consider it, as long as it pays the bills. If you have an offer that fits within your determined favorite mental place, you’re a lucky individual. It’s a blessing when you both know your niche and can find a way to work in it.

Then you can give your best and it won’t feel like work. It’s nice to say you don’t have to go to work every day – except when the alarm goes off. Click here for more resources, information and assistance related to military transition.