When you click on an article titled “Worst Jobs For The Highly Sensitive Person” you might be expecting to see a list of specific job titles. And if that’s the case, I’m sorry to disappoint. But please know that specific job titles are missing from this article for a good reason. And the reason is that I just don’t think any job title can be unilaterally ruled out, because there are so many variables at play.
HSPs are not clones of each other and we each have our own unique combination of sensitivities and preferences. What is tolerable also depends so much on context. How passionately you want to do a particular job. How much opportunity you have to recharge outside of work. How much support you have. And so on and so on.
But with all that being said, there are a few specific job requirements that MANY highly sensitive people struggle with. So when looking for the ideal career or work setting, here are some red flags that might give you reason to pause and consider whether this is something you want to commit to tolerating in the long term:
- Physically Taxing Work Environment: Physical triggers are probably the most obvious culprit of HSP workplace misery. Constant exposure to noise, smells, or flickering lights will irritate most HSPs both mentally and physically.
- Emotionally Taxing Work Environment: HSPs tend to be high in empathy and very in tune with the moods of everyone around them. They literally feel other people’s feelings in their own bodies. Even for HSPs who have learned techniques for keeping other people’s emotions separate from their own, spending extended periods of time around people who relish conflict and aggression or people exuding negativity might turn out to be an exhausting endeavor.
- Time Pressure: HSPs process information deeply and like to think things through. We also need more downtime than non-HSPs to give our sensitive nervous system time to recover from overstimulation. This is why any career that requires fast action or constantly being “on” is likely to cause excessive stress for HSPs. We are not go-go-go people.
- Meaningless Work: While the business world mostly focuses on the bottom line, HSPs tend to be caring and compassionate people, who obviously want to make a living, but who also seek to make a difference and make the world a better place. They want their work to be personally meaningful and to have a higher purpose. This is why an environment where performance and profits are valued above all else is likely to depress HSPs.
- Workplace Culture That Takes Advantage of Conscientious People: HSPs are naturally conscientious people who often fall in the “people pleaser” and “rule follower” camps. They like to do the right thing and meet expectations. While these qualities are beneficial in some situations, possessing them also means that HSPs who don’t have good personal boundaries are easily taken advantage of. They will pick up the slack and burn themselves out. And even for HSPs with good boundaries, constantly battling a workplace culture that’s founded on unreasonable expectations can prove to be extremely taxing.
- Work That Is Not A Good Match For Your OTHER Personality Characteristics And Preferences: As started earlier, HSPs are not clones of each other. That’s why it’s important to consider your other personality characteristics and preferences. For example, a job that requires constantly being the center of attention and interacting with others might turn out to be too taxing for a person who prefers introversion. Similarly, very repetitive work might turn out to be too draining for a person who prefers intuition.
- Work That Is Not A Good Fit Considering Your Non-Work Life: I firmly believe that career options should never be considered in isolation – what is going on in your life outside of work plays a huge role in determining whether some jobs are “doable” or not. I often meet highly sensitive people for whom the problem is not their job per se, but the problem is that there’s just too much going on when you take into account all the demands they have on them from work and from family and from friends. What they are carrying on their plates is simply too heavy.
WANT help identifying the right HSP-FRIENDLY CAREER for you?
If you’d like help figuring out the right career options for you, please click the button below to schedule your free introductory session! We’ll talk about creating a coaching package that is tailored to your needs. Many HSPs find great benefit in taking assessments like the MBTI® and the Strong Interest Inventory® which allow you to see jobs that people similar to you are satisfied with. These assessments are included in my coaching toolbox! My coaching services are location-independent with all sessions conducted online via Zoom.