Choosing a career is something you’ll probably have to do more than once in your lifetime. We’re lucky to live in a time where millions of jobs have been created by technology and more work is moving online to fit into work-life balance.
Whether you’ve just graduated high school or college, or you’re a mid-career professional, there are a few things to consider before you choose a career path.
Knowing your skillset, strengths, interests, and personality is a great place to start. This guide will explain some key things to consider that can help if you’re wondering how to choose a career.
How To Choose a Career: Know Yourself
Choosing a profession requires a lot of introspection. Be prepared to make some lists, take some quizzes, and pull out your resume.
What Are Your Interests?
It may seem simple enough, but knowing exactly what your interests are can help guide a career choice. How do you spend most of your time? What do you keep searching for or reading about online? How do you spend your weekends?
Start making a list and think of possible career paths. For example, if you spend a lot of time hiking on the weekend, maybe a career in environmental conservation or fitness is a good fit. If you’re always trying new restaurants and traveling, blogging could be the right move.
Following a passion is the best way to make your work feel fulfilling. However, some people would rather have work just be a job that’s unrelated to their interests. Take some time to think about how you would feel in each career option based on your interests.
What Are Your Skills?
Skillsets can take some time to build, so don’t be worried if your list seems short. Skills should be things that you know you’re very good at and any former employer can testify to.
For example, if editing is one of your skills, make sure you highlight in your resume where you’ve done editing work. Be sure your former employers know how much you valued your previous editing experiences so they can speak highly of this skill.
It’s important not to embellish skills on a resume or cover letter. Simply letting your employer know your key strengths is the best way to get hired.
When and Where Are You Most Productive?
Do you enjoy a fast-paced environment or are you more laid back? Do you enjoy an office workspace or prefer to be at home? These key indicators can help you in selecting a career. Knowing what helps you be most productive can inform how you’ll succeed in a new role.
A personality test can be a great way to understand your own habits a bit more. This modern take on the Myers-Briggs test can help elevate your emotional intelligence and help you learn how to choose a job that fits your personality.
Now that you have a few ideas about a potential career, let’s dive into how you can get started. Spoiler: it starts with networking.
The best way to start working in a new industry is to have some insider knowledge.
Next time you find yourself searching, “how to decide on a career”, switch the focus to real people and real conversations.
If you went to college, review your alumni network to see if there are any people working in the industry you want to learn about.
Most people love to talk about themselves and are happy to share their journey with you. Try to connect with them on LinkedIn and ask for just 30 minutes of their time on the phone or ask a few questions via message.
Once you make these connections, be sure to follow up and keep them in your network. Even if you don’t choose the career path they have, it’s always beneficial to have people who can testify to your initiative.
Level Up Your Resume
In your past work experiences, volunteering, or internships, what elements have you enjoyed? If your plan is to make a career switch, make sure your resume highlights the most relevant experiences first, or the specific experiences within a seemingly irrelevant position.
If you decide on a new career path and find that you’re lacking momentum in the job search, do some research on how successful people in this field made it happen. What degrees or volunteer experience do they have? Are there online certificates you can get to make you a more appealing candidate?
Integrate buzzwords from the particular industry into your resume. Statistics can help employers see your value. If you worked in sales and had a successful return on investment, highlight that! If you were a fundraiser for a nonprofit, mention your biggest year.
Even if the numbers don’t feel 100% relevant to the job you’re applying for, employers are always looking to see how you’ve accomplished a lot with a little.
Enlist your friends, family, and former employers in your hunt for a new career. Often times, these people can help you recognize patterns of success in your life that can illuminate a new career path.
For more strategic and comprehensive support, check out services that offer career planning options. If you find yourself wondering how to choose a profession or have trouble selecting a career, these experts can help narrow your scope even more and get you in the field you want.
New Career, Here You Come!
A career change is such an exciting time. Hopefully, you have all the tools you need to get started. If you still find yourself wondering how to choose a career, take a deep breath and remember all the work you’ve already put into changing your life.
If a few years down the line you find that you’re bored at work, come back to the drawing board!