Once they’re in the workforce, many people go through life wondering.

Wondering if they are in the right job.

Wondering if they have some hidden talent or secret superpower that would burst forth if only the environment were right.

Wondering if someone with a better knowledge of career paths and the job market could help them discover their latent talent and suggest a perfect job for them.

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Here’s part of an email that came across my desk from a friend, “You think you know what you want out of life/a job, but maybe you’re not seeing a talent or skill you possess that might be in an area you never thought of before.”

So, can a outside recruiter help these lost souls discover some hidden talent? Unfortunately, no. It’s not the role of a recruiter to guide a candidate along a career path, or take a chance on them because of some indescribable “spark” for the job/industry. It’s nothing personal – a recruiter’s responsibility is to the client who hired them, and the client always wants the best and most-qualified candidate possible.

So now these wandering, wondering souls have a choice, though it’s a bit of a Catch-22.

One: Career Coaches. They could help to discover a secret super-power. But they rarely have in-depth knowledge of the current status of the real-world job market. It’s an important distinction, because while they might help figure out what someone is good at, they don’t necessarily have the connections to help find an open job in the desired field.

Two: Recruiters. They (should) have terrific job market knowledge. But their goal – because they’re paid for it – is to find someone who already demonstrates the strong skills needed for an open position – not to help someone who is passionate (but inexperienced) break into a company. Large companies have in-house recruiters, which may present a slightly better hope. They may be willing to take a chance on someone. But the odds of stumbling across such a perfect opportunity are pretty slim. Even if the recruiter is willing to take risks on inexperienced newcomers, breaking into a new industry would still require finding and applying for the open position before it’s filled by someone experienced. I’m guessing there’s almost never going to be a callback for an interview.

But don’t worry lost souls – all hope is not lost.

Third Option: Self-reflection.

One of our recent posts suggests taking a different view of how to manage a career, suggesting that careers are merely grand experiments, filled with lots of dead ends. But like Edison with the light bulb, keeping the experimentation alive may lead to a breakthrough, or a discovery of hidden super-powers. Back in December, Bob also offered some advice on finding hidden passion. Just ask the right question – What’s the problem you love to solve? And if that’s not enough, there’s a much more in-depth way of looking at meaningful work here. It’s not as “follow your dreams” hokey as one might think – there’s 5 specific pieces of advice would hopefully help formulate how to find a life full of meaningful work. The book referenced, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport might help as well. As the blog writer puts it, “Unless we can clearly define our choices to ourselves, we can’t make informed decisions.”