Deciding on your future career is not easy, whether you’re just starting, or you’re making a well-thought-out career change.

Several factors can influence your career decisions, and they may end up taking you on the wrong path. You should make such important choices with a clear head and a detailed plan.

The perfect job for you isn’t lying around waiting for you. You have to make an effort to get to it.

With the right steps and information, deciding on your future career won’t seem as daunting to you as it may seem now. With the right plan behind you, you’re unlikely to fail.

STEPS TO CHOOSING A CAREER

 

Steps to developing a career. Source: Ryerson

1. Introspection

You can’t decide on a career without knowing what job suits your personality best. The first thing you should do when you’re not sure about what career suits you is to have an in-depth and honest discussion with yourself.

Look deep and discover what special skills you have and what areas you excel best at. Every individual is different, and you may have some specific details about you that make you best suited for one job and not another.

When you have this self-examination, focus on whom you are as a person and not necessarily what you currently do. You can figure out what your passions are, what gets you interested, and what you naturally find yourself enjoying whether or not you get money for it.

After that, you should figure out how to use those skills to make money.

For example, you may love reading and creative writing. If you want to convert them to careers, you can decide to become a book critic, publisher, editor, and content creator. The options are endless once you find something you are good at doing.

To make it easier for you, you can check online for career tests, aptitude tests, or behavioral tests that can help you figure out what you love and what you’re good at.

They can also help you determine your strengths and weaknesses so that you can decide on the best workplace for you. Career counselors also help people out with these questions.

2. Make a list

If you use a good career test, you may be able to generate a long list of possible career options for you to consider. When you go through them, pick the relevant ones, and compile them into one long list.

You can identify the careers that appeared in several tests and keep them at the top of the list because they are your best matches.

Pro tip: Use several tests so you can have a lot more options and variety to pick from.

This list should contain any occupation that interests you, whether or not you think you’ll be good at it. You may find out that a career you didn’t consider previously is a good fit for you later on.

Ensure that you compile this list honestly: do not be swayed by monetary rewards. Picking a career based on salary is a good way to end up in a job field that you hate.

3. Explore the list

After whittling out the irrelevant careers, your list should be ready to explore. Start by researching each career as much as possible.

Allocate enough time for each profession and get as much information concerning the job, workplace, and opportunities in pursuing that as a career. You need to know what you are getting into regarding the position and any similar opportunity in the same field.

The most relevant information you need at this stage is what requirements, certifications, and education you need to venture into that career.

You should also find how much you need to do to keep that position and possibly move up in the field. Get as many job descriptions, salary details for different positions in the field, and labor market statistics and information.

A lot of this information is freely shared online, and you can find them on government websites. You can easily find out about the average earnings and requirements of different positions in that career, and figure out what positions you can apply to, based on your qualifications.

This can also help you figure out what further education or training you might need, and if you can keep up with the job’s conditions.

4. Narrow down the list

The next step is to cut out any job that has any tasks or obligations you don’t agree with or that don’t align with your goals and ambitions.

These cuts should be based on the information you gathered about each career choice, and they should be done without any bias.

You may like a career, but one part of it can be a deal-breaker that you can’t accept in the long run. Sometimes, the job may require you to have 2 or 3 extra years of education or an extra degree that you don’t have. You may also lack the required experience to apply for the job.

Some jobs sound great on the surface but have really poor advancement opportunities or remuneration, and that is enough to cut it out of your long list.

Your goal here is to create a shortlist with at most 5 jobs on there that you will enjoy, are qualified for, and you can reasonably pursue. Make sure these jobs are as few as possible, to make your choice an easier one.

How to make a career choice. Source: The balance careers

5. Get more information

At this point, you must have whittled down your list to a few options that you can realistically pursue. The next thing to do is to get more detailed information about those jobs on your shortlist.

You may think that you already have enough information by now, but there is a limit to things you can find online. This information you need is only accessible by people on the inside.

This stage calls for something called an informational interview.

An informational interview is when a job seeker inquires about in-depth information on a job or company, like the corporate environment, job description, job outlook, and even other possible opportunities related to the company.

You don’t have to be unemployed to schedule informational interviews. As long as you’re researching a job, you can reach out to people who work in that field.

Don’t hold back when doing this research because it is an essential step in choosing a career. Use all the resources and connections at your disposal. LinkedIn can help you find the employees and professionals you need, and you can also approach your friends and network for help.

6. Make a choice

After all the information you must have gathered, you should be in the right position to pick a career. Based on all your research, you should pick the career that most aligns with your goals, vision, and values.

You also need to keep the company structure and salary in mind when making this choice, although they shouldn’t be the primary driving forces behind your choice.

If, at any point in this step, you feel like you made a mistake, don’t hesitate to make a change. It is quite reasonable and a lot of people make several career changes during their lifetime.

So, don’t put yourself under undue pressure. Instead, make a choice backed by facts and figures and not emotions. Your career should give you satisfaction.

How to change your career. Source: The balance careers

7. Determine your goals and set off to accomplish them

Now that you have made the big decision, you need to set the ball rolling on the journey you will take towards your chosen career. You don’t think that merely choosing the career will land you a nice job in the field, do you?

Absolutely not.

This is the time to set several personal goals that will launch you into your chosen career, and see you through it.

Personal goals can be long or short-term, but they are equally important. Short-term goals usually take about 6 months to a few years to come to fruition, but long-term goals take more time than that; at least 3 to 5 years. They both serve different functions, but you need them both if you want to succeed.

You set your short-term goals to cover any extra preparations and training you need to do before applying for a job in your chosen career.

They can include taking online courses, volunteering to gain experience, or even getting some extra certification to qualify for the position. The information you gathered previously on the career will help you figure out what you need to do.

Long-term goals are more time-consuming, and they can include getting a degree in a related field or getting a higher degree to qualify for a higher position.

The strength and effectiveness of these goals will determine how successful you are in your search.

8. Make a career action plan

A career action plan contains all your plans to get your preferred job or career advancement. It is a personalized plan for any individual, and it typically contains your personal goals, how you plan on achieving them, and how long each one will take to accomplish.

You may think you don’t need a career action plan, but having one makes you more organized and makes your goals a lot easier to achieve.

To make a practical career action plan, you need to write out your goals in the order that you plan to achieve them, and when.

Then, identify when you expect to have accomplished each goal, along with a detailed description of how exactly you intend on accomplishing each one of them. You don’t have to put in everything at once; you can add new goals as you go.

Some people prefer to write out the plan from the beginning, while others start from the end and work their way up to the beginning. Either way is fine, as long as the goals are written out clearly, with their proposed end date.

This plan of yours should be adaptable enough to include any unexpected changes or situations that might come up.

Signs you need to quit your job. Source: Slideshare

HOW TO MAKE BETTER CAREER CHOICES-200

Choosing a career is one of the hardest choices to make, and even with each step laid out, it doesn’t mean that you will make the right career choice.

You have to be careful while making this choice because it can save you a lot of grief in the future. Here are some ways you can make better choices.

Think long-term: The best way to make a decision that will be beneficial to you, in the long run, is to consider your long-term plans and make a decision that will fit into your plans.

Don’t make your decisions only based on your present life; instead, consider your future plans and the career’s job outlook and growth opportunities.

Prioritize facts over feelings: Sometimes, to avoid the pressures of making such a big decision, you may be tempted to just pick any option because of one thing you like. Instead of doing that and risk making a bad choice, consider all the facts at your disposal and use them as the basis of your decision.

Weigh all your opportunities: When looking for a career, the best thing to do is to consider every option available to you before making a final choice. Look into every available career available and weigh all the factors, including salary, location, and job outlook.

Don’t rush into anything: Most times, big decisions can be so overwhelming, and that can push you into making decisions without really thinking about it. You have to take your time and mull over everything before you put anything to paper.

Talk to someone: If the weight of your decision is heavy on your shoulders, talking to an experienced person or a mentor who has experience in that field.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU CHOOSE THE WRONG CAREER

Making the wrong career choice is not the end of the road. In fact, this happens a lot more often than you’d expect. Several people go through different career paths in their lives, and they end up in their perfect jobs eventually. So, if you think you’re in the wrong career, don’t panic. Here are some things you can do to help you re-discover your purpose:

Why people quit their jobs. Source: The Career Cafe

Self-examination

The first thing you should do is search yourself and discover if the problem is your job or an unsatisfactory workplace environment.

A lot of times, the career path you picked was perfect, but the job that you’re in isn’t the best. In those cases, the best thing you could do is to find a different opportunity in the same community.

While in other cases, you may find that you’re in the wrong career as a whole. In this situation, you can completely change your career path.

How to know if you’ve chosen the wrong career

  • You find the work draining and unsatisfactory no matter the kind of results you get. If your job gives you negative thoughts consistently, it may be time to reconsider your career path.
  • You put in so much time and energy into your career, and you never get good enough results. This could be a sign that you aren’t a good fit for the job you’re doing. You should look inside yourself and find a career that fits your personality while also providing you with job satisfaction.
  • If you always think about quitting your job or consider it seriously, then you may be in the wrong career.
  • You don’t agree with the job or industry’s beliefs or morals. Maybe you like the location or the salary, but if you find yourself disagreeing with a lot of the morals and beliefs that the job stands for, then you may need a new job/career
  • If your strengths and skills don’t come out in your career, you may be in the wrong career. You need a place that showcases your strengths and not hides them.

Signs your work environment is toxic. Source: The Five Journeys

Find people who enjoy their jobs

When you find yourself getting less happy and fulfilled by your job, meeting people who enjoy their jobs might be the best option for you.

This way, you can see what they have that you lack, so it can help you know what it is you need in a career.

Also, you might fall in love with a new career just by seeing someone else talk about it with satisfaction.

Get information

If you feel your career is not the best fit for you, then it is time to go on more informational interviews. You can repeat the steps in finding a new career, or if you have one in mind, talk to people in that field.

Ask relevant questions, and see if it is a good idea to switch.

Figure out how you can transfer your skills to another job

Switching careers is not a hard as it seems, especially when you consider that many careers require the same or similar skill sets.

You can look around for any jobs that need the skills you already possess and adapt those skills to fit the job. Searching for job opportunities and descriptions can help get you on track.

CONCLUSION

Career opportunities are plentiful and varied, so there are just too many options to choose from. But, this is not an impossible feat.

With the right approach and outlook, you are bound to find the perfect fit for your personality and skillset.

And if you make a mistake, it is never too late to switch careers and find something more fulfilling. Your perfect career awaits you!

How to Make a Career Choice When You Are Undecided: 8 Steps to Choosing a Career

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