How to Choose a Career How to figure out what career you want How to find a career that fits you How to choose the right career Important job selection criteria How to prepare for a career choice Wrapping Up
How to Choose a Career How to figure out what career you want How to find a career that fits you How to choose the right career Important job selection criteria How to prepare for a career choice Wrapping Up
Updated 05/08/2020

How to Choose a Career

Puzzling over a career choice among all the job possibilities? You need a clear strategy. This article will set you on the right track through step-by-step tips.

Puzzling over a career choice among all the job possibilities? You need a clear strategy. This article will set you on the right track through step-by-step tips.

According to a career survey conducted by the investment company Scottish Widows among recipients aged 21 to 65, 9 out of 10 people regret their choice of profession. Some choose a job under the influence or even pressure of their parents. Others are mistakenly guided only by emotions, starting with zest and then later discovering that their expectations are broken over the reality of everyday responsibilities.

Disappointment in choosing a profession negatively affects the quality of life. The performance of unloved activities day after day can even cause prolonged depression. To pick the right career and avoid joining these frustrating statistics, it is important to sort out your feelings and understand where you see yourself.


How to figure out what career you want

Your desires, needs, and aspirations should be decisive criteria and a powerful foundation when choosing a career. Neither the prestige of the position, nor the admiration of loved ones, nor even financial satisfaction, will compensate for a person’s true vocation. To determine it, devote some time to professional introspection.

Best questions for introspection

Tip 1. What do I like to do?

Try to be honest with yourself and list those activities and hobbies that regularly maintain your interest. For example, if you always back up your photos on social networks with text or keep a live journal, this testifies to your desire for writing more than the fact that you once wrote an essay in school.

Tip 2. What do I hate to do?

This question will narrow the range of potential posts and help to determine a career that is definitely not for you. Suppose, in the first question, you indicated your interest is computers. And now you admit that you hate fixing them and tinkering in technical details. This allows you to conclude that the position of a software developer will suit you more than the role of a network engineer.

Tip 3. What is my personality type?

Personal characteristics often determine success or failure in a particular type of job industry. Introverts will have to get over their anti-social tendencies to achieve impressive results at a call center. At the same time, born innovators will waste their potential in companies with a clear multi-layered hierarchy and routine responsibilities. Therefore, identifying what type of individual you are is one of the critical steps for choosing the right path. If you find it challenging to label yourself to a particular personality type independently, there is a lot of useful literature and even specialized tests at your disposal online and offline.


How to find a career that fits you

After your introspection, you will have an idea of what you are keen on, what you prefer to avoid, and in which industries you will be comfortable. This is a good start! Nevertheless, the statements “I like to sing” and “I can sing” still sound differently. Therefore, the second step in choosing work should be an assessment of your strengths.

Questions to research your strengths

Tip 4. Does my education relate to my career goals?

Today, a degree does not guarantee that your profession is predetermined. Many graduates pick a career in an adjacent or even wholly new industry, and this is not always a bad thing. If you intend to put your education into practice, then you are armed with a theoretical base. And if not, think about where you will receive the necessary knowledge for the desired employment. Remember that the second option is more challenging, so evaluate whether you are ready to invest time and finances into its implementation.

Tip 5. What am I good at?

This is a useful addition to the "What do I like to do?" question. Choose a hobby or activity where you managed to update the relevant skills, transforming yourself from an amateur into a master. If such actions do not occur to you, then just write down your advanced capabilities and correlate them with a list of activities that are interesting to you. Choose common points and make them the basis for a career search.

Tip 6. What are my chances now?

After examining your strengths and preferences, you should at least do a superficial analysis of the industries or professions that show up at the given moment. Look for information about how to succeed in the field, relevant statistics on development and employment, and general requirements for its representatives. Apply these findings to your existing listings and evaluate your current job opportunities. If you only meet a few of the employers expectations now but are determined to ​​find a career in that specific industry, remember that any knowledge gap can be filled by practice and training.

Do you want to try your hand in several positions? Take the first career steps and create a winning self-presentation for each of them.

Create Cover Letter

How to choose the right career

Almost every industry involves a wide range of job opportunities. Given that you have a list of the basic requirements and your related skills or strengths, focus on positions that are most achievable for you at the moment. For example, if your priority is the marketing field, but you do not yet have enough qualifications to apply for the role of director or research analyst, you can succeed as an assistant or an intern. Once you have identified one or more specific posts, it is time to move to a more in-depth analysis.

Tip 7. Read some descriptions of the profession and find out what a specialist actually does.

When picking a career, a general idea is not enough. It is essential to understand the areas of responsibility and daily duties in order to gauge your strength.

Tip 8. Gather information on the minimum selection criteria for the position.

For example, some roles imply a degree in a particular industry or a specific basic set of skills. Rest assured, such requirements exist even for entry-level employees. Hence, it is in your best interest to know the technical and soft skills, the level of education, and other preferred qualifications that serve as a ticket through the door.

Tip 9. Study the current status of the profession in the labor market.

Find out whether its representatives are in demand, who are potential employers, which companies provide available vacancies. Perhaps such a study will seem time-consuming to you, but remember that it is better to make an effort now than to select a career, improve your knowledge and skills, and then find out that there are no suitable offers for you.

Tip 10. Even if you are looking for your first job, you should think several moves ahead.

Evaluate your potential career and financial growth opportunities; see what qualifications or achievements are necessary for career advancement. Such an analysis will help you see your prospects and set long-term goals. This is vital for understanding how to pick a job. But it is equally essential to make sure that this job will not be your dead end.


Important job selection criteria

When you focus on how to choose a career, keep in mind that the field of interest and your level of knowledge are not the only keys to a successful choice. Before you start looking for available vacancies on job boards, you should decide on acceptable terms of cooperation that can also significantly affect further decisions.

Tip 11. What type of employment is right for you?

If you are a student, then think about how you plan to combine work with ongoing training without either activity harming the other. If you are an employee who is entering a new industry, then consider whether you are ready to change full-time to part-time or remote, and vice versa, if necessary.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each of the types:

  1. A full-time job involves paid holidays and sick leave, however, there is a risk of becoming accustomed to a particular work environment and routine duties, which impedes professional development.
  2. Part-time employment provides more free time for family and hobbies, but, by choosing it, you lose extra benefits and have low chances of career advancement.
  3. Freelance allows you to manage your schedule and workload, as well as choose employers independently. But in this case, be prepared for unstable income and the need to constantly search for work and tasks.

Tip 12. What salary do you expect?

To avoid unpleasant surprises, first, study the average level of wages in the industry as a whole and for your profession in particular. By ignoring this indicator, you base your choice only on the emotional and irrational component, which, as we learned at the beginning of the article, can lead to disappointment.
Be prepared, as a budding specialist, to be offered below-average payment due to the lack of experience or qualifications. Therefore, make sure that a new career does not violate your financial obligations or plans. If a financial issue scares you when choosing a career, remember that you can always reach a compromise. For example, if an employer offers low pay, you can try to agree on part-time employment as a first step, providing you with an opportunity to gain experience while simultaneously supplementing your income with a second source of income.


How to prepare for a career choice

Suppose that after compiling your preference list and analyzing your strengths, you have several job options where you want to unlock your potential. Further actions involve searching for a position and practicing new responsibilities. In this stage, you may encounter internal barriers that could cause you to doubt your choice. Therefore, it is important to have some strategies to overcome them.

Tip 13.

A job search may take longer than you expect, which causes some applicants to give up on their goals and be content with other available options. Therefore, you should be patient and contemplate the reasons for this downtime. If it is a matter of a lack of experience, you should postpone your job applications and focus on training. If the job descriptions do not meet your secondary needs such as a specific schedule or specific type of employment, then try to contact the recruiter and indicate your qualifications and motivation. Try to get a feel if any of the terms are negotiable. Sometimes desired jobs are not available in your chosen area. In this case, the best advice is to consider either working remotely or relocating.

Tip 14.

Be mentally prepared for rejections from potential employers, and do not take them as confirmation of a failed career choice. Many companies have a complex and multi-layered decision-making process and your professional aptitude is not the only component of their choice. To avoid unnecessary worries, feel free to seek clarification about the reason for the refusal and take notes to use for subsequent job searches.

Tip 15.

Do not be too strict on yourself. This applies to the initial stage of introspection when you can find that your qualifications do not cover all the requirements of the industry and the period of your first career experience when you feel that you are not coping with all the responsibilities. None of these situations prove that your choice was a failure. It simply shows weaknesses and provides you with an opportunity for improvement. Remember that it is always better to put more effort into the desired profession than to choose a shortcut and be content with easy tasks that will lead you to a professional dead end and disappointment.


Wrapping Up

The question of how to decide on a career remains relevant for both recent graduates and current specialists who have found dissatisfaction with their current activities. Remember that you can only choose the right job offer after you find out what you want from your future career and what activities you will really enjoy. Despite the complexity of the issue and the multi-layered selection process, every person who wants to find their vocation, realize their potential, and avoid regrets about the professional path must pass through it.

It is important to remember that any analysis begins with introspection. Only you can identify what will bring you comfort and satisfaction. Regardless of your choice, the main thing is to have a clear plan of action. Understand your career preferences, evaluate your desired professions, and determine your knowledge gaps then choose a way to fill them. Don’t overshoot. Look for job opportunities that match your current level of qualifications but provide room for growth. Remember that even if you cannot fully match your chosen profession, you can always state your strengths and motivation in a cover letter, which will increase your chances of getting a ticket into your desired industry.

You may also be interested to read