How to choose a new career, courtesy of the British government

With 300,000 job cuts planned back in June and July (sorry–statistics lag behind reality) and more cuts hitting the headlines every day or three, with the possibility that unemployment among young people will hit 17% later this year, never let it be said that the government isn’t trying to help the least among us. 

And believe me, they think we’re all the least. 

What are they doing for us? Why, they’ve created a quiz to help us figure out what jobs we’d be good at if our old careers have crashed and burned, or if we never had a career but our jobs are now cinders, or if we graduated to find the job market in flames and the fire department at half mast due to a decade of austerity budgets, or–

Well, you get the picture.

Ever anxious to help people (that was one of the questions on the test), I’ve taken the quiz so that you don’t have to trouble yourself. And by way of full disclosure, I should tell you that this is a test version of the test, so I’m sure–

I’m sure of nothing. Never mind. It’s a test version. We’ll leave it there.

Irrelevant photo: A flower I’ve forgotten the name of–and a butterfly. If someone would remind me, I’d be grateful (for whatever use that is). A friend once called it “that tall, ethereal thing” and it knocked the real name right out of my head.

What the test asks you to do is agree or disagree with a series of statements, and with each question you go deeper into the essence of who you are and what you’re capable of. Then an algorithm compares that with every available shred of information about the job market and spits out your own personal economic self-improvement plan.

How scientific a portrait of you does it build up? Oh, very. Especially when you pick the “it depends” box. 

The questions include: 

I am comfortable telling people what to do. (I am, but I sometimes need to wait until they’ve pissed me off. Then I’m very good at it.)

I make decisions quickly. (I had to switch to a different tab and type that question up for your benefit, so even though I claimed to make decisions quickly, I took my own sweet time with the question. I don’t think I was penalized for it, but they don’t really tell you.)

I take control of situations. (It depends. On what? Oh, lots of things.) 

I like taking responsibility for other people. (It depends. On what? Time, place, and circumstance, mostly.)

I set myself targets and usually meet them. (I accidentally left that one blank and tried to go on. The test sent me back and I said that yes, of course I meet my own targets. But filling out the test correctly was never one of them.) 

I think I am a competitive person. (I think I am? If they don’t trust me to know this about myself, why would they think I’m non-delusional about the others?)

I set myself goals in life. (You asked me this once already. Standardized tests often do that to see if you come up with the same answer when the questions come in different forms, but most of them are subtle enough not to hit you on the head with it.)

Doing well in a career motivates me. (Geez, no. What could be less interesting?)

I try to think differently to others. (I don’t try, sweetie. This is the brain I was issued. This is how it works. Yes, it can be interesting in here at times.)

And so on. 

At about the halfway mark, I started hitting “It depends” on most of the questions. Because I was bored. Because I wanted to see what they’d do with someone in the absence of any discernible personality. And, of course, because it does depend. Everything depends. It depends on how we’re going to interpret the question. It depends on whether I want to make a good impression on myself. It depends on whether I want to play the game fairly. 

Basically, yes, I cheated by not representing my real self, so I don’t claim that the careers scientifically chosen for me are entirely tailored for my oddities, but it turns out that I’d make a good soldier or a good cake decorator.

Also a nursery worker (to translate that, it means working in a preschool; you can see why someone who’d be a good soldier is a natural fit there), a judge (my lack of a law degree doesn’t seem to be a problem), or a dance teacher (the startling number of left feet that were included in the package when I was born present no problem).

And since the travel industry’s thriving right now, I could also retrain as a travel agency manager, a tourist guide, or hotel room attendant. That last one is career-guidance speak for a cleaner. 

An assortment of other people who took the test report that they’d be good boxers, lock keepers, or movie projectionists. Lord Google left me with the impression that lock keeping’s a volunteer job. With time and dedication, you can progress up the ladder to be a volunteer coordinator, but probably still as a volunteer. And one of the big movie chains just closed its doors. 

Reality has also closed its doors. Movie projectionists are looking to retrain as lock keepers.

That leaves boxing. I’d make a good boxer, competing in the overage runt category. But when they asked if I was competitive I said, “It depends,” so they didn’t suggest it for me.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have a couple of cakes to shoot.  I don’t like doing this, but orders are orders.


73 thoughts on “How to choose a new career, courtesy of the British government

  1. I didn’t realise there were still film projectionists. I thought it was all digital these days, although I suppose someone still has to press the button. Surprisingly, you didn’t mention working in a labour exchange as an option, since I expect they’ll be making a comeback in our new world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What was I thinking?

      I just asked Lord G. about movie projectionists, and right after a few hysterically enthusiastic links (one of them from a governmental agency) I found this: “There is certainly staff in charge of making certain that each theater is projecting the correct movie and trailers at the appropriate time, but there is no “projectionist” in anything close to the meaning of the word back when movies were projected from film stock. Yes, they are more or less automatic these days.”

      Liked by 1 person

        • Or else they’re just figuring on taking people off the unemployed side of the statistics by encouraging them to chase after jobs that don’t exist. Or training programs that shut twenty years ago.

          Okay, that won’t really change the statistics, will it? But I’m not convinced anyone at number 10 is more thoughtful about this stuff than I am.

          Liked by 1 person

          • They’re trying to plan for a new world before they know what that world looks like. There will undoubtedly be new jobs and even new industries, but I doubt they’ll come about because a civil servant has dreamt them up.

            Liked by 2 people

            • The image that spring to mind is that they’re walking forward while looking backward. If we don’t give some thought to what we want that new world to look like, we’re in trouble. Inevitably, it won’t turn out the way we imagined, but we can at least give it some nudges.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Like everyone else, I think they’re finding it hard to come to grips with the idea that the old world isn’t coming back. Looking to the past is comforting, because it was full of certainty and the one thing we’ve learned is that nothing is certain. The further you look into the past, though, (that is further than the last thirty or so years) the more you see that certainty was the one thing that everyone lacked.

                Liked by 2 people

              • I suspect that certainty comes into the picture most strongly when we’re looking backwards. People who teach dog training classes call it Old Shep Syndrome: The last dog we had (that’s Old Shep) was never this much trouble.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I know, I know. I just dropped something off for someone (long story, which I’ll skip) and he said he wished he could ask us in for a cup of tea. I found myself saying, “In another world.”

                Liked by 2 people

  2. I did the test too, and my top two recommendations were I’d be good in a caring role or as a creative of some description. As I was a nurse for 20 odd years and an audiologist for 10, and photography is my passion, I was quite disappointed. I wanted to be a rockstar.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hmm, wonder how i’d do.

    I am comfortable telling people what to do. – Does telling them where to go count?

    I make decisions quickly. – Of course. When you’re up to your “behind” in alligators you have to quickly decide if this is a good time to drain the swamp.

    I take control of situations. – Versus letting the usual people I had to work with take control? I’m not stupid.

    I like taking responsibility for other people. – See “liking to tell them where to go” above.

    I set myself targets and usually meet them. – I have an archery target in the back yard…does that count? And, yes, I ALWAYS meet the target.

    I think I am a competitive person. – Stand between me and the archery target and see.

    I set myself goals in life. – Unless someone else gets between me and the target, then they’ve set the goal.

    Doing well in a career motivates me. – Depends. If it’s draining swamps then other things may motivate me more.

    I try to think differently to others. – Don’t my prior answers answer this?

    As far as the solider/nursery working, actually they’d make a good fit, both have to know how to quickly identify the enemy in a small group, then deal with them.

    And the judge, maybe it’s time to toss your hat into the ring for US Supreme Court nominee – neither citizenship nor a legal degree are needed. And the way things have been going here lately, that may make you the best qualified candidate.

    Liked by 3 people

          • Crazy? Of course. It’s politics.

            The Democrats don’t like the person the President nominated (of course, they could never agree with the opposition on anything). They’re big reason: she’s a Catholic. Now, this is the party that screams violently (literally) against any type of discrimination (of course, they did the same thing when Kennedy won the primaries, so at least they’re consistent on hating Catholics…must be Brits).

            The Republicans (aka, not the Democrats) opposed Obama’s nominee because it was seven months away from the election and the next President should make the nomination. Now we’re seven weeks away from election and they think Trump should be allowed to make the nomination.

            Any doubt why I am apolitical, and don’t care for either party? Washington thought a party system would be the worst thing to happen to the country…he was right.

            Liked by 2 people

            • I don’t like the nominee not because she’s Catholic but because of her politics. The Democrats I know (who are for the most part not in love with the Democratic Party either but land there for lack of anyplace more congenial) are, I think, pretty much of that cast of mind.

              Liked by 1 person

              • And that’s where I have a problem. SCOTUS judges should not be about politics, but about qualifications. Is s/he qualified for the position? Period.

                My problem with Democratics when it comes to SCOTUS is that they don’t want anyone who will mess with the decisions they liked (abortion). Prior to loading SCOTUS with judges who went their way they don’t want anyone who does not believe the way they do.

                Ditto Repbulicans with the 2nd Ammendment.

                The nomination process should not be allowed to question anything that does not have direct bearing on their qualificaitons. How they feel about guns or abortion should have nothing to do with the process. The only question is if they will uphold (not rewrite) the Constitution. That is the reason SCOTUS was created. Congress’s job is to write law, SCOTUS is to measure challenges against the Consitution as it exists at the time.

                Liked by 2 people

              • That’s not, unfortunately, the world we’re living in as far as the US Supreme Court goes. She’s been picked for nakedly political reasons and jammed through for ditto. I’m hazy on the British Supreme Court, but my impression is that it’s filled on the basis of competence, by jurists. I’m sure that system has hidden flaws as well, but right now it sounds pretty good.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I understand that, but if you dislike her for that then you have to feel the same about Sotomayor and Kagan, who were picked soley to preserve abortion rights. For that matter, every Democratic nominee since RvW had to pass that litmus test or they would not receive the Democratic nod. Nothing else other than supporting abortion rights is needed to be on the Supreme Court, and anything other that 110% support will gain a single Democratic vote. They are a one-issue party.

                Liked by 2 people

              • It isn’t, actually. It’s a contradictory melange of many groupings, most or all of whom support abortion rights but who are at least as interested in other issues. I think you’ve fallen for a stereotype there.


              • No stereotype or misinterpretation, from the Donkey’s mouth:

                Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted it first, telling the Manchester, New Hampshire, audience at Friday night’s Democratic presidential debate that, if elected president, he would have a litmus test on abortion for any justice nominated to the high court. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders went further, pledging to “never nominate any person to the Supreme Court or the federal courts in general who is not 100% pro-Roe v. Wade.”

                Liked by 1 person

  4. According to a (now pulled) advert from HM Gov today, Ballet dancers should consider retraining for ‘cyder’. Was quite keen until I remembered I wasn’t a Ballet Dancer and reading more carefully revealed it actually said ‘cyber’, which is nowhere near as attractive and I also have no idea what it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So the test wasn’t limited to UK residents and it turns out I am suited for nearly everything! I guess I have no discernible personality and have no excuse for being jobless. Aha—perhaps that message was the real point of the test.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I would like to say the government’s test was remarkable, but alas, I’m afraid your answers were more memorable than the test. Cake decorator, dancer, soldier, judge??
    Reminds me of a “personality” test I took when I was applying for a job as an internal auditor for a major insurance company (oh all right, it was Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina) in 1972. I was a CPA, cum laude graduate of UT Austin in accounting, 26 years old and desperately needed a job. I even had a friend who worked at BCBS in the same area – she told me I as a shoo-in.
    The last test was the “personality” test. Just a formality.
    Imagine my surprise when the supervisor called to inform me I wasn’t getting the job because I “failed the personality profile” which apparently indicated my two main traits were “dull and boring.” I was devastated.
    Years later, much later, I had to wonder how does anyone who is dull and boring fail a personality test for an internal auditor position?
    I probably should have been a boxer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You probably should’ve. If I’d been in that position, I’m sure I’d have tried to make myself as dull and boring (are they different??) as possible on the theory–surely correct–that if they knew me they’d want anybody else they could find. Who knew they wanted someone whose hobby was juggling
      running chainsaws?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love how they suggest you’d be good at so many jobs that are also in very short supply due to the lockdown. I also had to laugh that housekeeper and travel agent are included in the same result. Both have to deal with travel, but kind of opposite ends of the spectrum. “Here are your tickets. I’ll get you bags and I’ll clean the room after you shower.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school – ca. 1961- we took a test to help guide us in career choices. One of the best options to help guide us (no guidance counselors were involved.)

    Would you rather be a) a cowboy or b) a ballerina.

    I thought those tests had died out, but I see they have made a comeback.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Terrible quiz. I got Emergency and Uniform Services If anyone knows ANYTHING about me, it’s that I hate following orders and can’t stand the sight of blood. Can you imagine me in the military?! I’d be kicked out on the first day for being insubordinate!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve had ridiculous things suggested on those tests before. And as for projectionists, I suddenly remembered the ticking sound of the film projector in the theatre. Pretty amazing, huh? Nobody’s ever told me I’d be a good landscaper or gardener, and frankly…that’s what I’d do now, given a chance. As far as those flowers go, I’ve had the same problem with them, but it’s a pretty common name with a p in it…

    Liked by 2 people

    • That narrows it down a bit. The silly thing is that a friend who would’ve known was over here last week and I didn’t think to ask.

      I don’t remember ever noticing that ticking sound in a movie theater, but I do remember hearing it when a few people had home projectors.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly. And while there are some gestures in the direction of supporting people’s jobs, they miss a lot of people who aren’t in one category but don’t fall into some other. And the current one assumes you can live on 2/3 of what you used to get paid–as if most people have that much slack in their budgets before either rent or groceries are a problem. People who are outright unemployed are eligible for an insanely small amount of money.


  11. Ha ha, I had to do one of those tests in 10th grade and since I’m not blessed with math brain, all it had for me was florist, which I’m sure is a great job but the way the system works, it was propbably a polite term for hotel room attendant

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You’ve got me laughing. Well written. I saw your link on the Inspire Me Monday link up. Looks like I might need to take the quiz to find my true inspiration in life though. Wish me luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. The interesting thing about those job options is that they are all fairly limited in the number of openings that would ever be available. Except maids. I don’t know what a lock keeper is, but there may be a lot of them as well. Hopefully, someone got pointed in the direction of retail and fast-food careers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lock keeping was a big thing before the railroads were built. The lock keepers lived by the lock, opened the gates, closed the gates, letting the water rise or fall in the lock. They kept on into (I’m guessing) the nineteenth century, although what with the railroads and all they weren’t working with the new technology anymore. These days? They’re playing with a toy.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I just did the quiz out of curiosity, with quite a few “it depends” and got teacher as first option. As I actually am a teacher, I don’t need retraining as a teacher. The quiz also suggested emergency services (definitely not for me), healthcare (likewise), business and finance (despite stating a preference not to work with numbers) and the legal industry (no legal experience whatsoever). Could it be this quiz just gives everyone the same options in a different order ? Surely not….

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s entirely possible. Or it may work like the magic 8 balls of my childhood, which had a set of answers stamped on a floating thingy, so that as you turned it up it gave you one of I guess 8 possible answers. My favorite was “It depends,” which seems appropriate for this test.

      Liked by 1 person

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