Choosing your future career in this time and day is both an exciting and challenging task. As the world we live in changes at a quick pace, opportunities for personal and professional development get better and more accessible than ever before.
Having so many possibilities at your disposal surely inspires you to start searching for a career that’s just right for you. Still, you might feel a little worried at the same time. How to be sure you’ve made the right decision at the end of this journey?
To make a well-informed choice of your future career, make sure to go through these vital 10 steps first.
Step 1: Analyze your interests and experience
Although your career doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around something you are passionate about, starting the search by listing your interests can be a very good idea. After all, you wouldn’t enjoy spending a significant portion of your time doing something that makes you miserable, and you probably wouldn’t excel at it.
To make sure this road leads toward career options you appreciate, think about all the things you liked to do while growing up.
What do you do in your spare time now? Could you develop a start-up out of a college project you loved working on?
Considering activities and matters you are passionate about is a process that requires some flexibility, though. Not every interest is a potentially fruitful career idea, no matter how much it makes you happy. Still, each idea you put down on paper can provide direction which can develop in many different ways.
A passion for computer games can lead you to becoming a game developer, beta tester, or game artist, while the appreciation of gardening can help you develop into a successful blogger on the topic. Young love runs deep, in life and in business alike – all you need to do is make the best out of it.
Step 2: Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Now that you know which activities and matters make your heart race, it’s time to assess how realistic it is to turn some of them into a career. Being honest with yourself when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses is crucial, though. A clash between reality and desires is usually not very pleasant, but choosing a career path that’s not in accordance with your abilities simply because it looks interesting is a disaster in the making.
We all love hearing inspiring stories about people going against the tide and making it with a bang, but that happens less often than we would like to believe. There’s a lot of hard work and dedication behind every career success story, but the road to finding your calling also depends on a realistic comprehension of your own abilities and imperfections.
On the brighter side, unless you have fallen for something completely out of your reach, the truth is you can do a lot more that everyone may think. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it always makes progress. And sometimes, that is exactly enough.
Step 3: Determine your priorities and professional goals
Take the time to document all the priorities and goals that drive you.
Would you rather work in an office or at home? How many working hours would you be willing to accept per week? Could you handle a career which requires being available on weekends? Are you looking to become a CEO one day, or a mid-tier position is enough for you?
Each of these goals and values will get you a little bit further to your dream career. As you become more and more aware of what you want and don’t want, you’ll be able to discard careers which don’t fit in the picture.
21st-century workplaces are, luckily, becoming more and more flexible than ever before in human history. A job that you could never do remotely 10 years ago might be quite possible to find today. And here is a little industry “secret”: If you are superb at what you do, the position of a proven professional will, more often than not, allow you to set conditions that you prefer even before setting foot on your first interview.
If that’s how things are, why do you need to consider this step in the first place? Developing your career goes hand in hand with developing charisma and professional and personal integrity. Set your priorities straight as early as you possibly can.
Step 4: Consider the financial aspect
Choosing a career is not just a matter of personal preference. Your future job should help you maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle and a work-life balance you’d prefer.
Professional content contributors often stress the importance of financial aspect when it comes to career research. A job you love that doesn’t pay well will most likely frustrate you after several years. A good measure of both preference and practical thinking is always necessary, so make sure to consider the financial aspect carefully. But what does this actually mean in practice?
Money matters, whether we like it or not. You may feel inclined to think that love for what you do alone will keep you happy, but when bills start piling up, your outlook on the matter will change significantly. Add a family you’ll once need to support in the mix, and things get even more complex.
It’s perfectly all right to give up some comfort to be able to do what you’re passionate about. Still, working on your dream job mustn’t turn you into a starving artist, or any equivalent to it.
Step 5: Take a career aptitude test
Now that you’re halfway through your career-searching process, it’s time to get professional help, and it may come in the form of one or several reliable career aptitude tests.
Although you can choose to take these before even beginning to think about your interests, priorities, and goals, doing a test like this when you already have some ideas might be a great thing to do. If you were going the right way, an aptitude test will help you narrow down the search. If you’ve sailed off course, it can tell you the hard truth you need to hear.
If you’re still a student, you can ask your teachers about taking a test like this in your school or college. Another option is making this step on your own. You can find several professional career aptitude tests you can take for free online, and go through them anytime you’re ready.
Step 6: Conduct extensive online research
One of the best ways to get new ideas and extend your knowledge on different careers and occupations is conducting thorough online research. Even a well-targeted Google search can provide you with a lot of information about different options, and social media channels can be of help as well.
Although you are still not actively looking for a job, check out the list of apps that help you get hired. It will give you valuable insights on which jobs are popular and well paid, so you can make a decision based on real-time information provided by various recruiters and organizations.
When these search methods become tiring, overwhelming, and dull, it’s time to try some more creative approaches. Find out what leading professionals say about business, careers, and passion.
Start reading career and business sections on high-authority websites such as Forbes, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur, and dedicate some time to watching TED and London Real Academy videos on YouTube. Get ready to be inspired by people who lend their voice in order to help us all become better versions of ourselves, professionally and personally.
Step 7: Narrow down the list
If you’ve taken all the steps listed so far, you’re now probably looking at a document or paper sheet with a lot of information you need to sum up. Every aspect and criteria that stands out on this list should be marked, and you might have to readjust your expectations in case they haven’t been realistic.
Having a career interest that only sounds great, but is hardly achievable in practice can only lead you astray. If the first steps of this journey were more on the inspirational and motivational side, now is the time to round the situation up with a pragmatic approach.
After going through the results of your research, it’s time to narrow the career list down to the main contestants. Make sure to choose a single industry or niche and take some time to process all the hard work you’ve done. Your journey is not over yet, but you’re getting closer to your dream career than you’ve ever been before.
Step 8: Discuss your choice with people you trust
Although nobody else but you can make a decision about your career, consulting with your friends, family, and tutors can offer a look from a different perspective. The people who are close to you know you best, and therefore should be able to contribute with some useful remarks on the career ideas you’ve gathered so far.
According to writers experienced in topics regarding career choice and change, opinions of those around us can sometimes reflect reality better than our own. Although you are the one who makes the final choice, make sure to consider what people close to you have to say as well.
Whether your ideas meet an instant approval of your loved ones or not, it is important to have that conversation and make it count. Present the situation from your point of view, and hear out everyone who matters to you. Sometimes, convincing others you are making a good choice means convincing yourself in the process, too. This is an important step forward, so make sure to treat it as such.
Step 9: Consider part-time work and internships
Now that you have a clear picture of the career that’s your most likely choice, there’s one more thing to think about. How will you be able to grow and develop in this sphere? Will you have access to supportive mentorship, and how quickly and easily can you get the job you want?
If your job research shows you will need relevant experience to be considered for a full-time position, inquire about part-time and internship options available. Getting a real hands-on experience in the industry you’ve chosen will help you significantly in the long run.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to learn and grow, but being close to the source of ideas and information is always a good idea. It can’t, however, replace hard work you’ll need to do on your own. Developing a career of your dreams will ask for time and commitment you can’t avoid or fake. If you are having any second thoughts about your choice, now would be a great time to consider these concerns carefully.
Step 10: Stay on the lookout for new opportunities
The first nine steps of this professional journey were dedicated to the job you’ll one day have and be great at. The tenth step is, however, dedicated to you alone.
Choosing a career is not an easy task, and even if you do it all by the book, you are still free to change your mind at any point in the future. For some people, this is a straightforward process, for others, it’s quite the contrary. Allowing yourself the freedom to stay on the lookout for as long as it takes will help take some pressure off.
Still, if you were an open, thorough, and honest researcher, chances are your choice of a career is going to be everything you can possibly look for.
Finding your future calling takes dedication, time and patience, so be prepared to do some thorough research before locking in your choice. Don’t get discouraged if your decision doesn’t come as quickly as it did for some people you know. Make sure to respect your own tempo, no matter how quick or time-consuming it may be.
Whether you decide to become a web designer, fiction writer, construction worker, or a start-up founder, let your choice be a reflection of your interests, values, and financial and professional goals. This way, your career will never be something you regret, but a decision you are happy and proud to have made.