If you ever wonder, “what is the right career for me?” you’re not alone. Everyone heading into university and about 50% of the workforce consider different careers and jobs that might work for them.
Why so much change?
- Only about 31% of people are actively engaged in their jobs, and around 14% are actively disengaged.
- The rest muddle through, neither supported nor disillusioned by their jobs, simply trying to survive in this capitalistic world.
Whether you’re a uni student making what feels like the most significant decision of your life or a dreamer who wants a job they truly engage with, finding the right career path is critical.
This guide is here to help you get started.
What’s Important To You In A Career?
When considering a career change, the first questions you need to ask yourself are about recognising your values and priorities. Do you:
- Want to be the best at something?
- Like solving complex problems?
- Want to be the best at something?
- Prefer working alone or with others?
- Want a career or a job you can forget about when you clock off at 5pm?
Notice how I haven’t asked you about salary – yet.
While salary is important, it’s secondary to the questions above. Plenty of well-paid people are miserable because they don’t feel aligned with their jobs.
(Related: Top Job Search Strategies To Get A Job Fast).
How To Balance Money And Lifestyle?
The saying “do what you love, the money will follow” isn’t entirely accurate. Of course, money is an essential consideration when choosing a career.
However, you’ll still be miserable if you hate your job.
If you value set hours but become a doctor, you will have long and unpredictable days. If you love your freedom but choose a career requiring you to be on-call 24/7, you will not be happy.
You must recognise and respect your deal breakers, such as:
- Long hours.
- Lousy working conditions.
- Constant travel.
- High–pressure environment.
The goal is to find a middle ground with a job you might not love but where you enjoy the work.
It’s important to have a job where you get to make a meaningful contribution while still earning enough to feel financially secure.
What To Do If You Feel Stuck.
If you feel stuck, start with a career quiz or personality test. A quality assessment will identify your strengths and personality type.
Some examples of reliable personality tests include:
- DISC personality test.
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
- Keirsey Temperament test.
Career assessments should tell you what kind of lifestyle and interests are good matches for you. There are an overwhelming number of options available, but here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential (MAPP) test.
- Truity Career Personality Profiler.
- Holland Code Career Test.
(Related: What Not To Wear To A Job Interview).
How To Test-Drive A Career.
Sometimes, jobs turn out to be different than you expect.
- You might think meteorology is about studying weather until you visit a news station and discover it mostly involves talking on camera.
- You could believe veterinarians spend their days curing sick animals only to realize euthanasia is a regular part of the job, and there are often animals that simply can’t be helped.
Knowing what a career is truly like before pursuing it can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Some helpful ways to explore jobs before committing to one include:
- Temporary positions.
- Job shadowing.
Through these types of opportunities, you can test out careers to see if the work is something you’ll enjoy doing long term.
Any Experience Is Good Experience.
Even if a temporary job wasn’t what you expected, everything you experience or complete adds to your work experience and skills.
Gaining experience and new skills makes you more attractive to employers, which will help when it comes time to apply for jobs.
(Related: How To Get A Job Faster).
Be Open And Flexible.
Today, there are a vast number of different career paths to choose from in fields that didn’t exist ten years ago like:
- Software engineering.
- Work–from–home jobs.
Remembering your values and preferred lifestyle will help you quickly sift through the options.
Keep an open mind when considering fields and careers that are a little different from the traditional job market such as fully remote or freelance gigs.
How To Change Careers If You Have Existing Commitments.
Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to pursue our dream careers. Sometimes, you’re forced to stay in your current job to pay bills, support a family, and survive.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t dream and take incremental steps toward your ideal career.
1. Set SMART Goals For Yourself.
SMART goals are:
Every goal you set should meet these standards, allowing you to create life and career plans for years to come.
The job market and economy change so quickly, it can feel like having a career plan is pointless.
But setting a clear strategy is less about plotting out every life decision and more about having a destination in mind to keep you pushing forward.
(Related: Ultimate Guide To Achieving Career Goals).
2. Take Baby Steps.
If you’re stuck in your current job due to financial pressure and other responsibilities, you can still pursue your dream career with some simple steps.
- Identify the career you want to transition into.
- Take career assessments.
- Consider your values and what’s essential to you in a job.
- Research and obtain relevant education, certifications, and skills.
- Start building a resume.
- Do volunteer work in a related field.
- Network with people who hold similar jobs.
Even if it’s not feasible to transition into your dream career until later in life, don’t stop working for it.
Knowing that you’ll have the position you want someday can help you get through the day-to-day of your current job.
Do You Have Fulfilment Outside Of Work?
Your job is where you spend most of your waking hours and where you’re supposed to find purpose. At least, that’s the ideal many people strive for.
However, a single aspect of life is rarely going to fulfil all your needs and wants.
Your job is where you will make money, regardless of whether you like it. You’ll likely need to find things you enjoy outside of work to lead a happy and fulfiling life, such as:
Even if you don’t enjoy your job, you can appreciate the money it earns for other important aspects of your life.
Focus on finding a job that fits your values and lifestyle so you can lead a life you enjoy, even if your primary source of happiness isn’t work.
Bottom Line On How To Find the Right Career For You.
Finding the right career is about taking a step back and asking yourself what you want your life to look like.
- What are your values?
- What’s important to you in a job?
- What are your talents and interests?
Try out careers you think might be a fit. See what resonates with you and which jobs aren’t quite what you imagined.
Once you find a good match, it’s time to start building connections and planning for your new career with whatever education and skills you’ll need.
Stick to your plan, keep track of your goals, and focus on enjoying life and work in equal measure.
If you often wonder “how to find the right career for me,” follow the advice in this guide, and you’ll be well on your way to attaining your ideal job.