Get Support And Information From Others
While you can glean a lot of information from research and quizzes, theres no substitute for information from someone currently working in your chosen career. Talking to someone in the field gives you a real sense of the type of work you will actually be doing and if it meets your expectations. Whats more, you will start to build connections in your new career area, helping you land a job in the future.
Does approaching others like this seem intimidating? It doesnt have to be. Networking and informational interviewing are important skills that can greatly further your career.
You may also consider career counseling or a job coach, especially if you are considering a major career shift. Sometimes impartial advice from others can open up possibilities you hadnt considered.
Find The Perfect Career Path By Identifying Your Ideal Workday
Visualizing your ideal workday will give you valuable information to use in developing your career plan and will help you become more targeted about your career goals.
Many people just fall into their first jobs and all jobs thereafter. Most people dont give themselves the opportunity to really think about what their ideal workday would look like. Does your day end and do you say, geez, where did the day go?
You might be a victim of having your day happen to you, instead of doing what YOU want in your day.
Look at your perfect day and look at career opportunities inside of the ideal day. Where is there a product or service from this ideal workday that you can sell or do? Start brainstorming about the companies that you could work for that fall into that perfect workday.
Want to golf all day? Become a golf rep. Want to be on Facebook and Twitter all day? Become a social media manager. You design a day that is just perfect for you. See the difference between looking for a job online and actually designing your ideal workday?
Listen To Your Intuition
There are a million tests you can take that will spit out your strengths, your personality traits, the careers best suited for you. I dont buy it. I believe that the only way to find a career path that will fulfill you, that will feed your soul, that will nourish you is to listen to your intuition.
You know what you want to do, even if it wont come out in words. It might be hiding inside of you, but its in there, somewhere. Reconnect with the deepest parts of yourself. Meditate. Journal. Dream. Be honest with yourself.
If the how just happened, if you could trust the money piece would figure itself out, what would you choose? Even if you only have a hunch, follow it. Take baby steps towards it. Trust that by following that hunch, youre listening to your inner compass, and youre getting closer to your purpose.
The only career path worth choosing is that one.
Founder, The Work at Home Wonder
My career path was chosen for me at the age of 18. I became a registered nurse because that was the thing to do in our family. However, I ended up unhappy and burnt out. I wanted a new path to follow, but couldnt see spending another four years in college and repeating that whole process.
Instead, I choose a new career path based on my interests and what I liked to do. I knew I loved connecting with other women and helping them figure out the hard stuff in life.
I also found out that tons of businesses needed content creators.
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Why Is It Important To Figure Out Your Ideal Work Environment
This is often an interview question! People are happiest and most productive when they work in an environment that suits them. By the same token, companies have different personalities, so its important for them to hire people who fit. We all spend the bulk of our day at work, so making sure the work environment is right for you is critical.
Job satisfaction is greatly influenced by the physical environment you find yourself in and the corporate culture. Find a job where you can thrive, where you are challenged, where the people are genuine, and where the environment is supportive.
Why Career Tests Also Dont Work
Many career tests are built on Holland types or something similar. These tests classify you as one of six Holland-types, like artistic or enterprising. Then they recommend careers that match that type. However, we can see from the table that Holland-type match is very weakly correlated with performance. Its also barely correlated with job satisfaction. So thats why we dont recommend traditional career tests.
Also Check: Is My Computer Career Worth It
What Are You Naturally Gifted To Do
One way to begin thinking about finding a career is to start with your natural abilities and gifts. Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., wrote a book called Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, which serves as a comprehensive blueprint for finding work that aligns with your passions and talents and, consequently, leads to finding your element. In the book, Robinson breaks down the difference between aptitudes and abilities. Aptitudes are innate ways of being, and refer to inclinations and tendencies that are embedded within us as opposed to learned.
Think of that kid in school who could naturally grasp mathematical concepts with ease or the natural athlete on the blacktop who seemed to dominate in every sport. Abilities, on the other hand, are learned through diligent practice and experience. For that math wiz or natural athlete to find success in either of those endeavors, they will certainly have to increase their abilities through years of practice, hard work, and learning. And while someone can strive to make up for a lack of natural aptitude through hard work and practice, it will usually be harder for them compared to someone naturally gifted in that area.
Every time people do something they experience as satisfying and as done well, they are in fact repeating part or all of a recurring pattern of specific competencies and motivations.
Know What You Want In Your Lives
Whether that is responsibility, creativity, higher wages, less pressure, flexible hours, or to make more of a difference, they will have a much clearer idea of where they will find that and what they need to ask for.
Knowing what we want also opens us up to more understanding. For example, why is it that I want more money? Following that question to the most profound answer will not only tell us more about ourselves, but it may also reveal other needs that are not being addressed most directly or healthily.
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Go To A Networking Group
Join groups to meet people focused on career or skill development. Talk to people there about their current careers, or about careers theyre interested in and why.
Attending meetings for people interested in particular careers, such as a group for future physical therapists, could help you explore the path to that career. Attending a skill-building group, such as Toastmasters, can show you how various skills and strengths apply to different careers.
Get Feedback You Can Actually Use
Oftentimes, we arent even aware of what strengths come so naturally to us. Thats why today we are going to go outside of your own brain to get some friendly feedback. Its time to interview your friends, family, colleagues, and relatives. Gather as much information as you possibly can and thank them for their time and input. You can do this in person, by phone, or by email.
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Being Very Thoughtful And Analytical About What You Want Out Of A Career Path
Even if you may not know what career path you may want, you can analyze and write down what is important to you in a career and give it a weighting of how important it is. Answer to yourself how certain important aspects are of a career path:
- How important are salary and potential future income?
- How important it time flexibility?
- How important is intellectual stimulation?
- How important is doing something that helps make the world a better place?
- Do I want a career where I manage people and teams, or do I do better at being an individual contributor and write down some other things that are essential parameters to you at work?
The second step is to take a skills inventory. What skills do I have to take into a career? As you look at positions to start the career progression, analyze them against your parameters and your skills list to assess a good fit. Be thoughtful and analytical about it.
Resume Expert and Career Advice Writer, Zety
When you dont know what career is right for you, things can go south in double-quick time. The worst part is, you know you need to find a job but you have no idea what it is you could do for a living and where to start. But things arent hopeless.
The Education Question: What Do I Need To Learn
This learning could come in the form of traditional education , some kind of training or certification , or what I like to call workification . This could mean job shadowing, auditing college courses, doing a short internship at a company youre interested in, or anything else that helps you get some education and training with low commitment.
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What Pain Do I Want
- What are the benefits of this career?
- What are the downsides?
- Am I willing to put up with the downsides for a sustained period of time?
- Am I willing to spend a great sum of hours learning about these subjects?
- Can I handle the pressures and demands of this job?
- Can I handle the hours asked of this job?
- Are these individuals the type that I want to surround myself with?
Figuring out what pain you want is all about understanding what a job entails, and what its benefits and downsides are. As you evaluate a career choice from your list, search for information regarding not only the perks, but the pains and complaints that people have about their position and career trajectory.
Things To Do When You Can’t Decide On A Career
Jamie Birt is a career coach with 4+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. Shes motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.
Most people spend between eight and 10 hours per day working so it’s important to choose a job that provides physical or emotional benefits. If you are just entering the workforce or considering a career change, you may be struggling to decide what path to take.
In this article, we discuss why people sometimes can’t decide on a career and explain seven steps for choosing the right career path for you.
Related: Job Cast: Choosing Your Ideal Career: Jumpstart Your Journey to Your Dream Job
Learn how to get clarity into your ideal career and start pursuing that path immediately in this virtual workshop with Tracy Timm, founder of Thrivist.
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Be Curious About What Brings You Alive When You Do It
For example, you might love being on stage or presenting. Someone else might be at their best chatting and making deep connections. Someone else might find hours fly by happily when they are solving tech problems.
Gather your core things, and with each path that interests you, ask yourself, will it let me be this version of me on most days?. If not, if your days are going to be spent doing the opposite of what brings you alive, then this isnt a great choice. An idea that looks good on paper isnt the same as an idea that fits you in real life.
If youre hitting a wall with finding an idea, then get creative to work out how you can find or create a space within a field to suit you. For example, you might be tempted by photography but not love the networking aspect.
What else could you do to bring in clients that would be more in line with your personality? Its this thinking that creates solutions most people dont think exist.
Tiffany Waddell Tate
Career Coach and Professional Development Consultant
A few thoughts on what to do if you dont know what career path to choose:
How To Find A Career Path
The first question is money. I know people say to follow your passions, but most of my passions pay ten bucks an hour, which doesn’t cover the rent, car loan, or food for the month, and because I don’t have rich parents, those are not good career choices for me to support myself. Money is a tangible representation of your work & your effort. The money question is really more of a lifestyle question: how do you realistically want to live, and how much money do you need to make for that reality to come true?
A job = helping people with things. Companies & people need all kinds of help – financial help, IT help, HVAC help, janitorial help, engineering help, etc. The bottom line is that the world will largely pay you what it thinks you’re worth. That means a few things:
You need to put a number on your lifestyle, i.e. how much do you want to make to support the way you want to live?
You need to find a job that will pay that
You need to get educated & trained to do that job
Most jobs just need a warm body in them, someone to fill the need. A recent survey found that most Americans actually “work” less than 3 hours a day at their 8-hour jobs. This means two things:
There are a lot of under-motivated people out there
There are a lot of great-paying jobs out there that you can get into, once you’ve achieved the necessary training/education/experience required for them
If you are:
Willing to learn
Willing to work
Willing to relocate
Then you can pretty much find a job anywhere.
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Consider The Necessary Preparation
While some careers may need only minimal education or training, others may need extensive preparation. You need to know if a profession is achievable for you in terms of cost of education and training, difficulty of the education and training, and length of time it takes to become qualified. You can use the O*NET Interests Profiler to determine the logistics of each career option recommended by the assessment tool. If there is an option on your list that has not been recommended by O*NET, research it separately. Once you understand the preparation required, narrow your list down to three careers that are both interesting and achievable. You can use the following checklist of questions to compete this step:
- What education do you need for the career?
- Can you meet the cost of the education or training?
- What professional certifications do you need for the career?
- Are there any student aid programs that can help you to pay for the educational requirements?
- Are the education requirements achievable in terms of time and effort?
- Can you gain the necessary academic or professional credentials while you work?
- What are the hard skills you need to develop for the career?
- Do you have the soft skills you need for this career?
- What programs can help you can gain the necessary hard skills?
- What industry experience can you gain in the near future to give yourself a head start?
- Is the career worth the effort of preparing for it?
Prioritize Your Wants And Needs
Your wants and needs represent your professional and personal ideals for your work and life. Your future career will provide you with compensation and certain benefits, and it’s likely to take up a considerable portion of your time. Make a list of things like salary, benefits, personal contentment, the ability to affect change and the opportunity for internal or professional growth.
Look at that list and write down what you need in terms of each item and what your ideal is for each. Then rearrange the list so that the elements are in order from most to least important. Compare this list with the research that you conducted for each of the potential career options you are considering.
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Engage With Experienced Professionals At Least 5
Ask them to describe what they do, what they like, and what they dont like. After doing this with 5-7 people in different industries and functional areas, you should have a decent idea where the best path might lead.
All of that said, you will make mistakes along the way. Dont be afraid of that. Make them quickly, learn from them, and move on.
Believe it or not, I opened a fortune cookie over 15 years ago that is still taped to my computer monitor so I can read it every day: You dont have to know where you are going to be headed in the right direction.
If you are early in your career, guess what? You have NO IDEA where you are going! My advice to you is to keep heading in the right direction!
Vice President of Operations Southeast Region, Post Modern Marketing
Every year, high school and college graduates are faced with their first real career dilemma. More than likely, it will not be their last. So, what is a person to do if they dont know what career path to choose?