According to the right-brain vs. left-brain theory developed by Roger Sperry in 1981, people are naturally inclined to use one side of their brain more than the other. Sperry theorized that people who predominantly use the left side of their brain are logical, reasonable, and systematic, while those who rely on the right side of their brain are more emotional and creative.
Whether you believe in the right-brain vs. left-brain theory or not, the fact is many people identify as right- or left-brained thinkers, with left-brain people drawn to jobs in analytical fields that require a high degree of processing and routine.
As detail-oriented individuals, people who are predominantly left-brained typically do well in structured environments. Instead of looking for new ways to do things, most left-brained individuals are content to find a system that works and stick to it.
Tendencies of Left-Brained Thinkers
While there haven’t been comprehensive studies on left-brain thinkers, there are some characteristics that left-brain dominant people tend to have. For example, left-brainers learn best by listening and engaging in discussions. That said, they prefer to work quietly and alone on projects where they can dive deep and analyze details. Left-brain individuals also:
- Like working with numbers
- Think logically and process ideas step-by-step and methodically
- Prefer structured environments
- Tend to find a system that works and stick to it
Left-Brain Job Hunters
The truth is that most jobs will require some (if not all) of the above characteristics from any candidate. But before you can do the job, you have to get the job. And, interestingly, getting the job is where left-brained folks have a disadvantage.
On paper, left-brained individuals would seem to have an advantage. They likely have a work history (or school history) that demonstrates their natural aptitude and abilities with logic and reasoning, problem-solving, and possibly as a team player.
However, having an outstanding resume is only half the battle. There is also the interview to tackle, and this is where left-brained job seekers may have problems. One of the key things you have to do in an interview is sell yourself, and left-brained people have a harder time with this task. Not only are they less comfortable with self-promotion, they may have difficulty explaining and connecting the dots about how their background will benefit an employer, instead relying on their resume to make the case for them.
While you could let your job history speak for itself, that may not be enough. So, left-brained job seekers need to work on their communication skills and practice using the STAR method to demonstrate how their left-brained skills will benefit the employer.
Common Career Fields and Jobs for Left-Brain Thinkers
Left brain thinkers tend to perform better in jobs that have structure and authority. This appeals to their sense of order and respect for hierarchy. They are logical planners and enjoy work that has schedules, deadlines, and a specific and well-defined set of rules.
They also do well in jobs with numbers and calculations, problem-solving, and jobs that let them find concrete solutions to problems. Below are four career fields that can appeal to left-brain job thinkers and job seekers.
The legal field—lawyer, judge, paralegal—offers many jobs to left-brain thinkers. Most of the work involves interpreting laws and regulations and analyzing court decisions. This, and other aspects of the field, requires people to pay attention to detail and analyze the facts. And, law professionals have to solve problems within a set of strict boundaries.
Why it Works
While there is some creativity involved in legal professions (a unique defense, perhaps?), much of the work appeals to left-brainers. There are hard rules and structure to follow, even if there is the occasional leeway. But, more importantly, a lot of the work is done outside of the courtroom and in offices and libraries, researching and analyzing case law, then applying those findings to the task at hand.
Scientists design experiments and develop theories to help discover solutions for problems. But, thanks to something called “the scientific method,” there are strict rules, procedures, and regulations that the scientist must follow for each experiment. A scientist will take the data, analyze it, and use the results to prove or disprove their theory.
Why it Works
This job checks all of the left-brain boxes. Working quietly and alone? Check (mostly). Analyzing details and data? Check. Creating a system that works? Check. Following strict rules and procedures? Check. There are more boxes, of course, but being a scientist is a great job for left-brain thinkers.
There are many types of engineers: civil, structural, electrical, mechanical, computer, and so on. However, these jobs have several duties in common. Engineers supervise and develop projects, provide technical advice, and usually have to follow accepted standards or procedures on each project. Engineers also test their work to make sure it functions properly and is safe.
Why it Works
Engineers have to be detail-oriented and follow the rules. Depending on the specific field, an engineer may have to analyze data or make complex calculations. In general, engineers will have to follow a series of logical steps to bring their project to life.
There are many job titles in the financial field. Financial analyst, accountant, and bookkeeper all fall into this category. Depending on the specific role, someone in the financial field may analyze financial records or prepare tax documents and ensure they are accurate. They may have to track down an accounting error buried somewhere. And, of course, there are lots and lots of numbers to work with.
Why it Works
Beyond the obvious—working with numbers—the financial fields present great jobs for left-brained people. These jobs require a meticulous attention to detail, and they have to follow the rules (otherwise, Uncle Sam may come calling!). Many people in this field have plenty of time to work alone on their projects and can dive deep into the numbers and analysis.
Left, Right, Both
No matter what side of your brain you think is dominant, or even if you feel you’re “equally brained,” most jobs require us to use both sides of our brain. While you may be more comfortable in a job that requires logical thinking and works with numbers, there’s still a good chance that you’re going to engage the creative right side of your brain, too.
Whether you’re looking for a new job for the right or left side of your brain, at FlexJobs, we’ve got job postings for everybody’s brain.
Ann Rozier contributed to this post
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
Don’t forget to share this article with friends!
Ann Rozier, FlexJobs Staff Writer
Ann Rozier is a Writer as well as the mother of three wonderful children. Ann researches and writes about flexible companies for the FlexJobs Company Guide and the FlexJobs Blog.Read More >
We’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please leave a comment below! All fields are required.