about the project

Almost half of all Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs, according to recent surveys. With a 143 million-person workforce, that is an astronomical statistic. It also offers a compelling motivating factor for the current rise in both graduate school applications and prescription drug sales.

But why are so many people so unhappy? A significant reason for many workers’ unhappiness is the fact that few of them actively choose their career; instead, they allow the market to select for them based on factors as anonymous as population trends and economic bubbles. There’s little surprise then that people feel alienated and dissatisfied with something that takes up so much of their waking life. What is surprising, though, is that this haphazard approach to such an important decision is so widely accepted and perpetuated.

One reason why people approach their job hunt like they’re playing a game of darts is that the search is so frustration-filled and time-consuming. With limited resources and time constraints, most people find it impossible to adequately research careers and/or industries to determine which is the best fit. Therefore, they drift from one job to the next without any professional game plan beyond leaving their current position for another. They simply know they have to make a change!

Some jobs (like sales) have similar responsibilities across industries, while others (like electrical engineer) are highly specialized. As a result, what may be the next logical step for one person makes no sense for another.

So, what’s the best way to determine what your next job should be? Unfortunately for the job-seeker, professional headhunters and career counselors tend to have the employer’s best interests in mind rather than the employee’s. Career books, on the other hand, are typically written by people with their own agendas, yielding profiles of a given field that are more socio-political descriptions of a type of worker, rather than useful snapshots of the field itself.

A job-hunter’s single best resource is also the most obvious: people already in that area. But networking can be a hard thing to do, especially for people who want to explore a number of different fields before taking the plunge.

Careers By The People is a virtual network for job-hunters to “meet” people in a wide array of professions, offering glimpses into their backgrounds, their personality-types, and their fields. Job-hunters will find profiles that match their own backgrounds or interests and explore fields they’ve never considered.

Careers By The People talks to professionals who have been in their given field for at least five years and asks them dozens of specific questions so readers can compare responses across industries. Questions range from: what factors slowed people’s professional advancement, to what makes your job fulfilling. In addition to asking the same questions, titles and fields are generalized into common categories to facilitate comparisons.

Like a restaurant guide, to make the best use of Careers By The People, readers should browse a range of fields and positions to see what sparks their curiosity. By retirement, the average worker today has drifted through 16 different jobs. With the help of Careers By The People, readers could cut that number in half, and find professional satisfaction much earlier in their careers.