How will youchoose a careerthat’s right for you? If you have no idea what you want to do, the task seems insurmountable. Fortunately, it isn’t. Follow an organized process and you can increase your chances of making a good decision.
Before you could choose a career, you must learn about yourself. Your values, soft skills, interests, and aptitudes, in combination with your personality type, make some occupations a good fit for you and others completely inappropriate.
Every one of us has strengths – and some weaknesses. The point is to find out what you are good at. Are you good at telling stories? Do you find it simple to coach other writers? Do you enjoy teaching students? There must be something that you feel passionate about and are good at doing. You need to find out what those skills and strengths are.
You should create a list of skills that you have, and then you pick the strongest skills from that list. Consult your friends or family for an outer aspect. If you play by your strengths, you will have a great professional life.
Useself-assessment tools, andcareer teststo collect information about your traits and, consequently, generate a list of occupations that are a good fit based on them. Many people choose to work with acareer counseloror other career development professionals who could help them navigate this process.
Take a career test
If you are worried about deciding which career is right for you, you can also go for a career test. Typically, a career test presents you with a set of questions that you need to answer in the given time-frame. A career test is aimed at evaluating your skills and strengths and then recommend a career that is a good match. Once you have finished answering all the questions, you will be provided with 2-3 career options that suit you best and promise a satisfying life.
On the internet, you will find several career tests that you can complete within a few minutes. Many of them are free.
Make a list of occupations to explore
You reasonably have multiple lists of occupations in front of you at this point, one generated by each of the self-assessment tools you used. To keep yourself organized, you need to combine them into one master list.
Firstly, looking for careers that appear on multiple lists and copying them onto a blank page. Yourself-assessmentsindicated they are a good fit for you based on several of your traits, so they are worth exploring.
Next, you should find any occupations on your lists that appeal to you. They might be careers you know a bit about and want to explore further. Also, you include professions about which you don’t understand much. You may learn something unexpected.
Explore the occupations on your list
At this point, you will be thrilled you managed to narrow your list down to only 10 to 20 options. Now you can get some basic information about each of the occupations on your list.
Findjob descriptionsand educational, and licensing requirements in published sources. Learn about advancement opportunities. Also, you use government-producedlabor market informationto get data about earnings and job outlook.
Create a “shortlist”
Now you have further information, start to narrow down your list even further. Based on what you learned from your research so far, you should begin eliminating the careers you don’t want to pursue any further. You end up with two to five occupations on your “shortlist.”
If your reasons for finding a career are non-negotiable, cross it off your list. Remove everything with responsibilities that don’t appeal to you. Eliminate careers that have weakjob outlooks. Get rid of any occupation if you are incapable or unwilling to fulfill the educational or other requirements, or if you lack some of the soft skills to succeed in it.
Conduct informational interviews
When you have only a few occupations left on your list, you should start doing more in-depth research. Arrange to join with people who work in the occupations in which you are interested. They also provide firsthand knowledge about the careers on your shortlist. Access yournetwork, including LinkedIn, to connect people with whom to have theseinformational interviews.
Make your career choice
After doing all your research, you are reasonably ready to make your choice. Pick the job that you think will bring you the most satisfaction based on all the information you have gathered. Realize that you are allowed do-overs if you can change your mind about your choice at any point. Many people canchange their careersat least a few times.
Identify your goals
When you make a decision, identify yourlong- and short-term goals. It helps to chart a course toward eventually landing work in your chosen field. Long-term goals take about three to five years to reach, while you can usually fulfill a short-term goal in six months to three years.
Let the research you did about the required education and training be your guide. If you don’t have many details, do some more research. Once you have the information you need, set your goals. A meaningful example of a long-term goal would be completing your education and training. Short-term goals include applying to college, apprenticeships, training programs, and internships.
Write a career action plan
Put together acareer action plan,a written document that lays out all the steps you have to take to reach your goals. Think of it as a road map that can take you from point A to B, then to C and D. Write down all your short- and long-term goals and the steps that you will have to take to reach each one. Include any anticipated barriers that could get in the way of achieving your goals—and the ways you can overcome them.
It might sound like a lot of work—and it is. But it is much easier to forge a career path when you know what you want. Taking certain steps early will save you a lot of struggle and uncertainty in the long run.
Work as an intern
Internships provide you with an outstanding opportunity to lay the foundation of your career. The experience of working in the real world is something that you should never ignore. Working as an intern can help you find out how being in a particular job feels like, whether the work environment is up to your taste, and how you get along with people in their workplace.
Internships are also extremely recommended for building connections with professionals and gaining work experience that adds extra weight to a resume. An internship may be either paid or unpaid.
Be open to all possibilities
No matter the stage of your life or career, the most significant thing to remember when choosing a job is to keep your options open, career experts say. If you are entering the job market, take the time to explore your interests and learn about different career paths.
“Trust your instincts, and refrain from being swayed by naysayers,” said Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, master of The Career Success Coach. “Know that trial and mistake in choosing a career path is part of the process.”
The same could be said for individuals making a career change; it is never too late to achieve your professional goals, Kang said. Even if you have been on the wrong path, you may still switch to a job that you may not have considered but that will make you far happier than the one you have.
Our expert approach using science-basedcareer assessmentand discovery can guide you in making a career decision you won’t regret.