Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSSThe previous episode was about the single best job for HSPs–working for yourself. Today’s show is about more traditional jobs and careers, including what you should look for (and avoid as an HSP).
Which qualities of being highly sensitive are a benefit to certain jobs?
Don’t miss the follow-up to this episode: The Best Jobs for HSPs…Revisited
Further reading on this blog:
- The best jobs for HSPs…revisited
- Resources for people who want to change their career / work for themselves online
- HSP Podcast #06: The Importance of Caring Less at Your Job
- Jobs and Careers for HSPs
- Here’s the best job for a highly sensitive person
- All the Battles I Fought When I Worked in a Cubicle
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Podcast music attribution: By the Coast (2004) (Antony Raijekov) / CC BY-NC 2.5
This current podcast and the letter you read — hit so close to home for me. I feel exactly the same in my current role. I’m starting to think I’m crazy. Three years now, and I rack my brain everyday trying to find an alternative. I look forward to the weekends and holidays, so grateful Thanksgiving is next week.
I am a mental health counselor and a highly sensitive person and over the years I am realizing that my field is becoming harder and harder for someone like me to do. In order to do my job I need to be able to bill 27 hours a week, which kind of doesn’t sound so bad but when you start adding in the issue of no shows and doing all the paperwork and phone calls in between it grows. I also supervise 4 people and right now I have 60 clients along with my supervises. I have to schedule clients and supervises in one hour blocks often skipping a lunch time and hope that enough people come. Because of the intensity of the work and the volume of people that need to be seen I am usually overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. I was listening to another of your podcasts and realized I definitely moving toward the caring less perspective. I could go on but mostly I am realizing that it is too exhausting to being seeing 5 or 6 people a day who are struggling with addiction, trauma and depression. Lately I am thinking of changing careers and feel so stuck as I have a license in counseling and wonder where to go from here. Its nice to listen to your podcasts and not feel so alone with all this.
I am definitely a Highly Sensitive Person – Ambivert. So my career of choice is basically fit for an ambivert. I am an On-site Talent Acquisition Specialist (which is a fancy way of saying that I am a corporate recruiter). The extroverted part of me loves this position because I get to go out and talk to people meet people help them find positions that are a right fit for them. The introvert of me basically is a request in my office that when I’m working from the office I need to be secluded in a room I don’t like the fact that there’s other people around me potentially listening to what I have to say or listening to how I say it I find that when I’m by myself I can talk to these clients with no distractions and it’s very easy for me to help them need find the right job.
The end result, I find it very satisfying that I am able to help somebody continue in their career if they were having difficulty finding a position or maybe a life-changing position to a different career maybe they were tired of the career they were in so they wanted to see if if they are qualified or closely qualified to another career that we may have and I have helped many people with that and that is very satisfying to me.
However, being a highly sensitive person – ambivert is still interesting. We may have some treats of the extrovert we may have some traits of the introvert, but none of those treats borrowed from the other two are exact That’s why when I watch something or listen to a podcast they explain some of the general traits that the extrovert has and the introvert has and where I can relate to maybe a portion of a trait The other portion is strictly I’m assuming an ambivert. So we don’t fit directly into line, but very close enough.
Sorry for the wordiness of this post, finally putting a name to what I’ve been dealing with my entire life which has caused me anxiety which I am now working on has given me the answers as to which my anxiety can now back off and I can take control of it 1,000%. So it’s very exciting for me so I tend to be a little wordy. If you’re still keeping up on this thank you for reading this far. Lol
I came across this site a few weeks ago and I find it helpful. I have a question for you related to HSP careers. I currently have a stress-free job and I’m very comfortable. However, I do not know if I will be comfortable at this job 5 years from now. I have the option to go to graduate school and advance my career. But, I have a bad history with school. As an HSP, I get stressed very easily. Needless to say, I did not handle stress well during my undergraduate years. I am concerned if I can even handle graduate school. What advice do you have for me? Thank you so much!
Hi Val, thanks for the question! What kind work/career are you doing now? And what would you do post-grad school?
I currently do scientific quality assurance and research for an environmental organization. Post-grad school, I will probably lead projects relating to my current research, so that would mean a lot more responsibility.
Grateful to discover your blog and podcasts this morning, Kelly. I got here the hard way and now have a job that ticks all the AVOID criteria (a senior executive at a huge multi-national ad agency). I do like most of my work, but it’s taken a big toll on my emotional and physical health, and now I know why – I’m an outgoing HSP (I read Elaine Aron’s foundational book earlier this year). I have become an obsessive gardener and have spent the last few years moving from day-dreaming to business planning on a kids’ food school/bistro concept. My heart figured out what I needed long before my brain did, ironically. Thanks for helping me better understand and justify my plan as I map out a happier future.
I really enjoyed episode #19…I can relate because I currently hold a leadership position within my grad program in school. I want to be part of the Exec Board because I want to promote the program and keep things running smoothly, but I struggle every day with the fact that there is always someone unhappy with how things are done. I think HSPs are good leaders in the sense that they can understand what people want, and really want to help. However, I’m not sure we are suited for this type of role since it is difficult to let negativity (that is impossible to avoid in thankless, leadership roles) is so hard to let “roll off of our backs.”
Listening to episode #6 helped me, as I took your advice and have decided to “care less” and just do what needs to be done. I also only have to hold this position for 1 year (half-way done!). Thanks for the weekly advice!
You’re welcome, Michele! I’m glad it helped you with your decision!!
I’ve just listened to this podcast, and although I 100% agree with the list of things HSPs should avoid to be happiest, I’m pretty sure it leaves people consigned to poverty, unemployment, or relying on a non-HSP spouse who can negotiate the stresses associated with reasonably-paid work. The last works for many couples, I don’t judge it, but it’s obviously not an option for single people and also for couples living in high cost of living areas.
Money isn’t a motivator for a lot of us, you’re right, but we have to at least survive. Any job involving responsibility or expertise (i.e., any job that would allow single people to pay their own way) is going to involve stressors for HSPs – whether that’s in the workspace itself, dealing with clients, or during the training required to develop specialized skills. In today’s capitalist moment, you can’t get away from people, deadlines, the need to self-promote, or competition, you just can’t.
I just worry about people cutting themselves off from options that would protect them from poverty in their later years, especially.
I’m on-board with coping as well as we can where we can, but I think if HSPs want to at least survive in this economy, a better focus, especially for young people at the beginning of their working lives, would be to make some compromises and learn enough tricks to adapt as well as we can to a non-HSP functions or environments at work, while doing our utmost to buffer its negative effects on us at home.
Specifically, I mean we should improve assertiveness and other social skills, and work on confidence, focus, mental toughness, and endurance to survive competition – at least so that we can deal with these challenges for the times we have to. (For example, for the duration of a graduate or vocational program that would equip someone with special skills that have value on the market.)
Entrepreneurship is fantastic, I grew up with business owners, but it definitely involves stress, repetition and people (at one end or another). It’s true that control makes a motivational difference, but at the end of the day, it’s still stress working on our sensitive systems. To that end, I would recommend finding a business partner who can take some of those things on.
I would also recommend developing skills with some market value, that would allow would-be entrepreneurs to have some good or service to sell.
Examples of jobs I can think of and have seen HSPs do well at:
– Radiology/ultrasound technician, laboratory technician
– Quieter, non-emergency, low-contact clinical jobs – e.g. pharmacist, optician.
– Healthcare systems analyst
– Market researcher
– Personal services, e.g. hair stylist, massage therapist. These involve people – your clients, obviously – but you don’t *have* to talk while you work to do well, if you have skill and can promote yourself, or work with someone who can promote you.
– Programming and other computer related jobs (though this does involve long hours, most of the remote jobs on the list you provided ask for programmers – freelance work is available in this field)
– Trades – carpenter, electrician, plumber
I know that many of these might not appeal to more creative HSPs (like myself), but honestly, that’s where the money is.
I would NOT suggest
– freelance writer or editor – really disagree with you on this – there’s very little work in this field, it’s HIGHLY competitive, even successful people don’t make much
– librarian – very competitive, low pay
I would also recommend that HSPs research their national and local labour markets to inform their decisions.
If this were 15 years ago, I would be thrilled to follow your advice, but as it is, I think people should be realistic and just do the best they can.
Hi Cara, thanks for your thoughtful post. I don’t necessarily agree with everything you said (I think freelance writing/editing is a very viable profession–it’s what I do–and I’m not nearly as highly educated/experienced as others who could make more. I also live in one of the most expensive cities in the US. I also know people who freelance re-writing businesses’ website content for OBSCENE amounts of money!) But you are definitely correct in that we can’t just hide away and expect to find a perfect job that doesn’t stress us in any way. Every job is going to have aspects that are hard for us to handle. Even in freelance, there are things that are hard for me, but I tell myself, at least it’s better than being in a cubicle. My goal is just to help people consider their temperament as one aspect of their career choice. Thanks again for a thoughtful and helpful comment. I may have to add some of the jobs you listed to this list!
I agree ,Im interested in your profession?
Kelly your podcast and blog have been quite useful to me as I try to understand whats happening in my mind. Thank you (takk).
Your posts and casts about work for HSPs have been excellent. I’ve known for many years that my job and its environment have taken a great great toll on me, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The problem, it seems, is that my job has all of the things that are on your job traits to avoid. Its loud, extremely loud. Often has strict time requirements, is competitive (to me at least), and has a dumbing amount of interaction with strangers. I’m a pro sound engineer. Now, I do love and put myself into my job but, obviously, it takes its toll. Anyway,
Do you have any advice for such a terrible environment for an hsp?
Thank you Kelly
I appreciate your podcast very much. This is perhaps the most important topic because we deal with our jobs/careers every day. My take on it is, if you have chosen to pursue the career you are in already, perhaps the best thing is to develop your adaptive coping skills such as assertiveness, confidence, taking up exercise, meditation etc. to overcome difficulties at work. I would very much appreciate learning about good resources to improve assertiveness, particularly. I would love to hear how people have developed and improved their assertiveness skill.
Katie, that is a very good point!! Thank you.
My HSPs is so bad that I can’t listen! People’s voices aren’t always good for HSPs but reading is better! Thanks
This post helped me a lot! I wish I would discover your blog before. Now that I realize that I’m a HSP I feel more aware of who I am but at the same time I feel a little bit depressed. You see, I’m finishing my social work degree and day by day I’m more convinced that it isn’t what I want to do with my life. I want to help people, but I can’t do it if I don’t know how to help myself. I’m surprised about some websites affirming that social work it’s a good career for HSP. You have confrontation almost all the time and sometimes the situations are a little bit tense or even risky.
I’m still young, but I feel that I lost my time and my best years because of this thought about being strong and competitive to sucess in life.