Whether you’ve opted for a 4-year university degree course or you’ve just graduated from high school, choosing a career path can be exciting. Unfortunately, it can also be overwhelming. Some people seem to know exactly what they were born to do. For others, it can take longer to determine the right direction. While career paths change frequently nowadays, it’s vital to choose a job that you’ll find fulfilling.
The most crucial thing to remember is that you never need to feel ‘stuck’ in one career for a lifetime. Also, many jobs don’t require years of education to get hired. This makes it significantly easier to switch up careers when you want to head in a different direction. You just need to give yourself enough time to make an informed decision about the direction of your life and career.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t put considerable thought into what you’d like to do when the time comes. If you stick with one career for a long time, it can be very beneficial to your promotion prospects and earnings throughout your lifetime. You’ll be an ‘expert’ in what you do, and you’ll be able to train others. That will give you a genuine sense of fulfillment.
There are many factors to consider in choosing a career path. If you’re looking for a job that makes you feel valued, successful, and fulfilled, knowing what is important to you can make all the difference in the world.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Career?
Choosing the right path and finding the perfect job isn’t always easy. Many people reach a crossroads at different stages in life, and it doesn’t matter what age you are or what jobs you’ve had in the past. Selecting a new career path should be a carefully thought-out process.
This guide will explore ten critical career choice factors. Keep them in mind as you’re choosing your next career path. If you do, you’re far more likely to enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling career. So, let’s get started right away.
What Are Your Interests?
Think about the things that genuinely interest you when it comes to a work environment. An excellent place to start is by making a list of the things you do well. How could they be applied to a career? Maybe you’ve enjoyed certain aspects of past jobs and want a career with more focus on those specific features. Perhaps you want a medical job that’s a bit different because you’re not suited to offices, for example.
If you’re unsure of what might interest, you should use as many of the resources available to you as possible. Career development centers are available across the country. They will offer you an assessment test that will identify your interests. You may be surprised by some of your results. The results may breathe new life into your future plans by identifying positions that you never even knew existed.
What Are Your Strongest Skills?
If you’ve ever had a job interview, you’ve probably been asked to discuss your best and most valuable skills. Whether these are talents you’ve always had or skills you’ve developed in recent years, they can be crucial in deciding what you want to do next.
Perhaps you’re good with people, aren’t squeamish, and want a well-paid career in healthcare. If so, phlebotomy would be an ideal choice since you get to work with all walks of life every day. If you’ve always been skilled with numbers and money, a career in finance would likely be an option. Sometimes, the most rewarding careers are based on our natural attributes and the skills we already have.
Take a look at the things that you do well and consider how they could be used in a job. Try to determine careers that would be a good fit for those skills. You’re likely to find that doing a job well will get you noticed by a boss quickly and bring you considerable career satisfaction.
We all have different attitudes toward different work environments. If you’re self-motivated and have a positive attitude about hard work, you might be well-suited for a leadership position or even a high-stress job that pays more money than the alternatives.
Don’t shy away from careers that may challenge you because those sort of positions can be far more fulfilling. If you have an attitude of excitement about working, it could be that your old jobs weren’t fulfilling because they weren’t challenging enough.
On the other hand, your attitude may make you realize what type of industry wouldn’t be the right fit for you. If you’re older or have a family, for example, and don’t want to work 60 hours a week, you should perhaps consider less stressful and demanding jobs.
You may feel as though you’ve earned the right to flexibility. If you choose a job that doesn’t reflect that fact, you won’t be happy. And, it won’t likely be a job that you stay in for too long. Attitude is essential when it comes to the work environment.
Education and Training
Most jobs require ‘some’ education and training, even if it’s learned on-the-job. Other times, professional classroom training only takes a matter of weeks or months. Determining the level of education is vital in choosing the right career path. If you do have a family, you might not have the money or time to spend 3+ years earning a degree. A position where you learn on-the-job may be far more suitable.
Some people gain satisfaction from completing their education, even if their initial career path doesn’t specifically need it. It can provide a sense of fulfillment. Often, you’ll find that the qualifications that you’ve gained will benefit you when you don’t expect it. For example, you may become eligible for a promotion that requires a degree. That would give you an immediate advantage over the competition.
One of the best places to start looking for a new career path is focusing on opportunities where the demand is high. In other words, you should seek out a future-proof job that isn’t likely to be replaced by automation or fade away due to technological advancement.
It can be frustrating and overwhelming to go down a path with a limited number of options. You’ll likely end up in a position you weren’t expecting and may have to spend years slowly working your way up from the bottom of the pile. A demand for recruits creates opportunity.
Some of the most popular industries currently include:
- Healthcare and medical careers
- Computing and information technology (IT)
- Research and development jobs
- Freelance careers (become your own boss)
While the job market continues to ebb and flow, certain industries seem to stand the test of time better than others. Medicine and technology are the future. There are many careers not listed here that are currently experiencing steady growth. As long as you do your research and ensure that the industry you’re looking at has job vacancies, you’ll definitely be on the right track.
Culture, People, and Values
Look at the people who work in specific industries and careers. Many companies have a certain culture. Some have even been stereotyped because of it. If you’re interested in a particular industry, research companies within that field.
Learn how they reward, promote people, etc. Pay particular attention to the longevity of the job. Could you retire early? How long do people work there on average? Knowing what the industry values will enable you to make a more informed career decision.
Some company cultures may not be a good fit for you. For example, having tattoos may preclude you from some career paths. Values line up differently from time to time. Even if the work itself seems promising, don’t undermine the importance of the culture within an industry. That culture should line up with your values, or you may have a hard time being truly happy.
How you feel about a job will carry forward to your home life. If you’re contented at work, your family life will likely be better.
Learn From Experience
While that research is important, it can’t replace real, hands-on learning. It’s one of the best ways of giving yourself peace of mind with a specific career. If you’re interested in a medical career path, find a way to give it a try without too much permanence.
Apply for internships or apprenticeships. Job shadow someone in their field or apply for a temporary position. The experience should be long enough to give you a full view of what the job is like.
All of these options give you the opportunity to ‘try’ a career. Even if you don’t get to experience the position directly, you’ll get a feel for the industry itself. That can make a huge difference in determining if it’s the right fit for you.
It allows you to uncover what you do and don’t like about the career. You’ll be able to invest enough time to make an informed decision. But, you don’t have to waste years of your life determining that you’re not really happy.
An interest and a passion for something are entirely different things. Some of the most successful people in the world have a real passion for what they do. You may have interests that don’t necessarily line up with these passions, so it’s important to differentiate the two.
Keep in mind that passion doesn’t always guarantee financial success. You have to decide what might be more important to you. You may be interested in more lucrative jobs. You may even have the right skillset for them. But, if they don’t fulfill your passions, you may find yourself always wanting more. Having a career that you’re passionate about typically equals long-term success and fulfillment.
Your definition of success is crucial to the type of career you choose. Some jobs will reward you with a hefty paycheck. Others will give you the opportunity to help people, such as a career in phlebotomy. Some professions will even be a combination of things.
One person’s definition of success may not be the same as yours. While a good salary is nice, if it doesn’t line up with making you feel successful, you’ll likely feel as though something is missing from your life. That can leave you feeling discontented.
Before you choose a career, make a list of the things you feel you would need in a job to make you feel successful. You may surprise yourself with the answers. As a society, we tend to define success with numbers. On a personal level, it can be an entirely different mindset.
Are You a Pioneer or Traditionalist?
There are many job industries today that didn’t exist ten years ago. There are thousands of jobs within those industries that are still barely being tapped into. Most of this is due to advancements in technology. Taking a step into these ‘new worlds’ can be exciting. For others, it can feel intimidating, so you wish to choose a career path that’s more conventional and established.
Before you select a career, you need to determine whether you’re comfortable working with advancing, ever-changing technology. If it’s a large part of a career path, you’ll have to immerse yourself in it. Some people are quick to embrace these changes, but not everyone.
Others feel more comfortable utilizing with the skills they already know. Technology will continue to change and grow – will you be a pioneer with each new step, or would you prefer a career that relies on the technology you’re already familiar with?
How Do I Choose a Job That’s Right For Me?
Some people work their entire lives in one industry. Others are unsettled before landing on a job that is right for them. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all the research and experience in the world will make you love your job after you’ve been involved in it for a while. Other times, it’s more to do with not liking the people in the company than disliking the actual job.
It’s far too easy to jump into a career headfirst without the taking the right precautionary steps. By staying in one career for a long time, you’ll learn more, develop relationships, and can become hugely successful. So, take the time to consider all of the factors before taking the plunge.
Once you have a basic idea about a career that interests you, create a roadmap. It’s not cliché to combine your dreams with reality. If you have the right resources in place, it’s possible to find a fulfilling career that will last for years or even your entire career.
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