Guide: How To Choose a Career

Informational interviews are a great thing and job seekers should utilize them as much as possible. They provide an inside peek or “free sample” into a company and role that you might be interested in. It’s great to test the waters first, before jumping straight in. Mike Swigunski Founder and CEO of remote jobs board and author of Global Career: How to Work Anywhere and Travel Forever

Group of people, each dressed for a different occupation

Career Paths: Definition and How to Choose One in 9 Steps

When you were young and people asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, they were asking about your desired career path. People don’t always choose their career paths and meet each of their professional milestones in a straightforward way. Usually, people’s career paths are long and winding with many stops, detours and decisions along the way. Choosing a career path, however, is a great way to start out your career to build the right skills, education and experience to find a satisfying, enjoyable job.

To do so, it’s important to reflect on your interests, skills and career goals as you make certain life choices, such as which school to attend, which entry-level job is right for you, or whether to obtain a post-graduate degree or specialized certification. In this article, we explain how to choose a career path by identifying your key skills and interests, matching those qualities to a potential job field and starting a career.

Perform a self-assessment

Before making any important decision, it’s a good idea to take time for self-reflection. Choosing a career is no different. In this step, you’ll reflect on what kind of work environment you want to be in, what type of work you enjoy, who you want to work with, and more.

Here are a few questions to get you started. Try not to dwell on the questions but rather, write down the first thoughts that come to mind. If you’re not sure of some answers, trusted friends or family may be able to give guidance.

Self-assessment questions to consider:

Identify your must-haves

Next, take some time to identify your must-haves in a job. These can range from anything like salary or travel to benefits and location. It might be helpful to return to the question-answer activity when recording what you can’t be flexible with when it comes to your career:

It is important to know what you need from a job ahead of time. For example, if you need to earn a consistent salary, you may want to avoid freelance work. Once you’ve determined your must-haves, you can use the research phase to determine jobs that might not work for you.

Explore the Occupations on Your List

Man doing research at a computer, surrounded by stacks of books

At this point, you’ll 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.

Find job descriptions and educational, training, and licensing requirements in published sources. Learn about advancement opportunities. Use government-produced labor market information to get data about earnings and job outlook.

10. Embrace the Change

  • Start with identifying what you’re passionate about. Without it, you won’t be able to do great work.
  • Prepare an action plan. Take your passion apart into its component parts and find out what exactly you need to do to get where you want to be.
  • Verify your expectations. Consider what it really is that you from life. Money? Freedom from stress? A certain lifestyle?
  • Get down to earth and see how much money you’ll be able to make. Is it enough for your needs?
  • Explore what jobs are available out there. Chances are you’ll discover a career you never even thought existed.
  • Talk to people who do the job you’re interested in. They’ll tell you what it looks like from a practical point of view.
  • If you want to get to know yourself better, don’t take online quizzes. Seek advice from your loved ones or trained professionals.
  • Make sure your job application stands out from the crowd. Prepare a job-winning resume and write a captivating cover letter.
  • Don’t be afraid to break the mold. If you cannot find a traditional career path that’s right for you, make one for yourself.
  • Accept the change and don’t be afraid to reshuffle your life if you feel stuck in a rut. Check out these career change resume examples.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your advice on how to choose a career? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a shout out in the comments below.


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