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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

8 Questions to Help You Choose a Career That Suits You

8 Questions to Help You Choose a Career That Suits You

When it comes to choosing a career, there are plenty of factors. It is important to make the correct career choice since many people work more than they sleep.

By asking yourself these eight questions, you will be best positioned to choose a career that suits you.

1. Can This Career Support My Desired Lifestyle?

Your lifestyle is a combination of time and money. Depending on whether you have kids or wanting to travel, you will need a certain amount of time away from the office.

Does this mean your work needs to offer flex-options?

Sure, that is one way to make sure you have time for your family and leisure activities. You could also explore working four, 10-hour days or on a 9-month calendar. Once you understand the time aspect, you need to determine how much income you need to live your lifestyle.

If you want to travel or have a large family, you need a certain amount of money to afford that lifestyle. Depending on what matters to you the most, you can choose to sacrifice your time for a few years to afford more time later in your career, or you may prioritize chasing your passion and dream career.

The choices are vast, but you want to be intentional with how you spend your time and money. Studies show 78% of people are living paycheck to paycheck[1].

However, we know that 78% are not living in poverty. That number simply reflects the number of people who spend all the money that they make.

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2. Does This Career Challenge Me?

Imagine being a talented professional athlete and competing against kids in elementary school. Sure, you are going to win every match, but you will not feel the same satisfaction as if you were challenged by other talented professionals. Choosing a career requires you to gauge the opportunity for growth and advancement.

This is important because your chosen career will allow you to build new skills, attain additional education, and expand your knowledge base.

As you grow in your career, tasks that were once difficult will become easy. When this happens, you are left with two choices. You can coast for the rest of your career while only putting in minimal effort to get above average results. Or you can take on new challenges in areas where you are not guaranteed success.

The difficulty with this decision lies in our fear of failure. When you take on new challenges, there is going to be a learning curve that can create fear and self-doubt.

Do not allow your fear of the unknown to cause you to stay in your comfort zone.

3. Who Can Mentor Me?

You only know what you know, and if you want to know more, you will either have to experience it yourself or learn from someone else’s experiences.

By finding someone who is in the career you want to choose, you will have someone to ask and seek guidance from. They can share what they learned and tell you what it takes to build a career in a certain industry.

Will you need a certification or additional education? Will you be willing to move?

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Instead of waiting until you start your career to learn all these things, find a mentor who is a few steps ahead of you.

4. What Would I Do for Free?

Chasing money is one of the quickest ways to end up broke. Most careers are going to require more than the love of money to stick it out.

You probably know people who are making good money, and yet they are miserable. They work in a career where they feel like they are losing a piece of themselves every day.

The reason it is good to ask yourself what you would do for free is that your mind has an amazing ability to rationalize anything. What this means is you can find yourself in a toxic work relationship (or any relationship for that matter) because you have convinced yourself it is “not that bad”.

Instead of making yourself believe that you are doing what is necessary, allow yourself to imagine the career you would pursue for free.

5. Where Is My Line?

It would be nice to live in a world where everyone is ethical and trustworthy. However, you do not need me to tell you that this is not always the case.

If you find yourself in a compromising position, you must decide where your line is located.

You may recall the Veterans Administration was in the news because patients were waiting for 115-days to be seen. When the new mandate came down to create a 24-day wait time, the employees noted how they felt compelled to manipulate performance records to meet these ambitious goals.

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In a Harvard study, researchers discussed how good people are provoked to make bad choices. The reasons are:[2]

  1. When it is unsafe to speak up;
  2. There is excessive pressure to reach unrealistic performance targets;
  3. There are conflicting goals;
  4. When no positive example is being set.

You will surely face at least one of these four scenarios in your career, and you will be the one to decide for yourself if it is worth it.

6. Am I Continuing to Grow?

One of the most common reasons people disengage from their role is because they no longer feel like they are growing.

Choosing a career is more than making money and having job security, it is also about that feeling you are learning new things. You will notice low skilled careers tend to have a higher turnover rate. Of course, the lower wages that tend to accompany low skilled positions are a part of the decision-making process; it is also the mundane nature of doing the same thing every day.

Everyone likes being promoted and getting a raise, but those are just external recognition of your internal growth. Promotions feel best when you know you have earned it through the continual development of your skills and leadership.

7. Where Does My Personality Fit?

You can find plenty of information online about choosing a career based on your personality type.

Among the most referenced materials is the work of John Holland and the Holland Theory of Career Choice:[3].

“According to John Holland, there are six key categories that define the modern worker. His assessment offers a framework that considers career interest and pairs ideal environments for certain personalities that also play a role in job satisfaction and performance. The six types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.”

For example, those who are Enterprising are most likely to lead and persuade, and as a result, this group would enjoy being a sales manager or attorney.

8. Where Do I Want to Live?

Choosing a career is going to have a direct impact on where you will live.

If you want to work on the floor of the stock market, you will find yourself living in New York and close to Wall Street. Large metropolitan areas tend to provide the best opportunity for careers in engineering. If you are not excited about working in places like Seattle, Boston, and Atlanta, then you may want to explore careers for more rural areas.[4]

If someone was interested in working in the tech industry, Silicon Valley is going to be on your list. This is not to say that opportunities in tech are not available anywhere else in the country, but you will have more opportunities in the tech industry if you live near Silicon Valley. The same holds true for broadcasting in New York and entertainment in Hollywood.

You must be strategic in where you choose to live to provide yourself the best opportunity to succeed. For those who would prefer to choose the location based on their kids or proximity to their family, you will want to examine which professions are prevalent in your area.

If you can find a company that has a local headquarters in your area, then you open up the opportunity to find a career that fits you.

Final Thoughts

These eight questions are a great starting point when it comes to choosing a career that suits you.

At different points in your life, your answers will change. You will desire to make more money, a change of scenery, or a simpler life so you can spend more time with loved ones.

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Regardless of the reason, if you start with these eight questions, you will be well-positioned to choose a career that suits your wants and needs.

Looking for More Career Guidance? Read These:

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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Published on March 24, 2021

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

In the U.S., workers on average spend 90,000 hours of their lives working.[1] This means that it is likely you will spend more time working than with your spouse or partner. For this reason, it is especially important to love your job. When you are in a job you love, it feels custom-made just for you. You feel your values reflected in the company’s mission. You feel rewarded just for working there — “Thank God it’s Monday,” you think each week, and the paycheck is nice, too.

Here are 8 steps for finding the career that fits your personality like a glove.

1. Look At Yourself Carefully

Firstly, Look Inside

Some diagnostic tests help you assess who you are and what jobs make a good fit. Among free assessments you can take, the Myers-Briggs personality test is among the most popular for gauging how you perceive the world and make decisions. It consists of some 90 either-or questions that indicate whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, and what influences perceptions.

Knowing yourself and the qualities associated with your personality type can help you decide whether you would be more comfortable in a front- or back-office setting, are more of an “ideas” or “execution” person, or prefer an open office or a quiet, enclosed setting to do your best work.

Career Explorer is another diagnostic careers tool, and offers a free Career Test to reveal how your interests and goals match up against some 1,000 careers. The test asks your general interest in a handful of random careers, along with your career satisfaction in previous jobs, and predicts career matches that fit your profile.

Then, Look Outside

Your friends and family members often know you better than you know yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “What kind of career do you see me in?” or “How can I find a career that’s right for me? and pay attention to their answers.

Also, think back to talents you enjoyed in your younger years, particularly those that elicited comments from others along the lines of “You’re going to make a great ___________ some day.” Others often see special abilities in you that you may have overlooked.

2. Write Lists

The perfect career awaits you if you do your homework. Keep careful lists of the qualities you possess and which types of businesses will reward those qualities.[2]

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Similarly, when your friends have ideas for you, write them down. You want to be able to go back and reflect on different career paths.

Putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards — and allowing yourself to follow ideas where they lead is a valuable step for finding the career that is right for you.

What elements of past or current jobs and experiences stick out as the most enjoyable? List them. Think of careers where you could recapture some of those elements.

Write down the activities where you find real joy. Do you love decorating or rearranging your living room? Could this translate to fulfilling work in interior design or merchandising? Or do you find children endlessly entertaining? Perhaps you would find teaching or youth development a rewarding career path.

Generate a list of ideas, no matter how eccentric they may seem, and see if any patterns emerge.

Write a Master List of All Your Strengths and All Your Weaknesses

Be as specific as possible. If you hate waking up before 11 a.m., it is going to be hard to hold down a 9 to 5 job (unless you can work remotely in another part of the country with a different time zone). If you love talking to people, maybe the back office of a research department is too isolating for you.

Are you high energy or laid back? Do your strengths or weaknesses tend to make you a natural leader or more of a maverick? Own your particular personality strengths and quirks, and think about the various work environments where you could make the most of them. Do you like receiving direction or chafe when someone gives you feedback?

3. Set up 15-Minute Informational Interviews

All of this introspection will help you narrow your search criteria, but then it must lead to action. Ask around to see if there is anyone you know who would spare a few minutes to discuss her field with you. It could be a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or even one of your parents’ friends. You may be surprised to find that people often want to offer advice on the steps to take to start out in their field.

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Prepare some questions in advance, for example: ask how the person ended up in her field, what best prepared her for her career, which aspects she most enjoys, and how the field is changing.

Depending on how forthcoming the person is, you might also ask if she would mind if you sent a resume to keep on file in case of any future openings.

4. Read Job Postings

Before you apply for a job, start reading job postings in the two or three fields that excite you. You can find postings on LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired. Do you feel goosebumps zipping down your spine when you read about certain jobs? It could be an indication that this is the job of your dreams.

Familiarize yourself with job descriptions to learn common industry terms, roles, and in-demand skills. Glassdoor, for example, gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for a given company — but keep an open mind, too, knowing that former employees with a grudge are usually the most motivated to post reviews.

5. Write Your Resume

Your resume should reflect the skills you possess and the specific skills sought in a job. But be sure to customize and change your resume appropriately for each position you pursue. Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, companies will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Research the organization that you are targeting and try to work in examples that have relevance to their customers or clients, or to issues taking place industry-wide. State how you can add value by quantifying results you achieved in former jobs or even volunteer activities. For example, “coordinated silent auctions for children’s advocacy organizations that brought in $29,000.”

Ideally, you will want to concisely recount your skills to make a riveting impression as a professional ideally suited for the position.

Check out these 10 Killer Resume Tips to Nail Your Dream Job.

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6. Watch a Movie or Two That Features a Character Working in the Field

While movies tend to exaggerate, you may see something that either confirms that you belong in that environment or scares you away from it. Career conflicts are a genre in themselves — you can find most any job represented in some form on the big screen.

The character played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada,” who successfully navigated her nightmare boss played by Meryl Streep, showed the ups and downs of working on a fashion magazine. Meanwhile, “Legally Blonde” likely inspired a whole horde of young women to enter careers in law.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

When it comes to job-hunting, the biggest risk is not taking a risk. Write a cover letter that truly reflects your own personality. Remember that you need to stand out, not just blend in to the hundreds of “blah-blah-blah” letters.

So, if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, adopt a more measured tone. If you’re intellectual, use bigger words. Be you, not what you think you should be. When you’re authentic, it improves the likelihood that the career you find will be the right fit for you.

Think of ways to show passion for the career path you are pursuing — and then make the case for why it is the right fit for you. Hiring managers look for candidates with dynamism behind their desire to work for the company. Choose words that reveal that you are passionate, not passive: instead of “helpful,” your findings were “game-changing.” Instead of “useful,” your discoveries proved “transformational.”

Here’s How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants.

8. Thank Everyone Who Helped You — and Especially Everyone Who Interviewed You

The gracious job-hunter lands a job faster. Even if you don’t snag a job the first time around, when you remember to thank the people who granted you an interview, those people will remember you and think of you for other opportunities. Thanks should also go to those who provided you with a recommendation or who took time with you for an informational interview.

While it may seem old school or downright quaint, a handwritten thank-you card still carries cachet. It shows that you took time to be appreciative. Or, if you send a note electronically, sincerely show gratitude and help the person remember you by bringing up something he said that you found helpful or insightful.

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A thank you to one person should not be able to be swapped with a communiqué to any other person who helped you in your search.

You Are on a Campaign to Land a Job until You Land the Job

You will likely have to meet several people in a company. Inevitably, those people will talk to each other. Make sure the emails that you write them are different from each other instead of canned notes with different names attached. Take a look at these tips on how to write a thank-you email.

Show unwavering cordiality and professionalism to everyone whom you encounter in the company. Even if you come across the receptionist entering the restroom at the same time as you, politely hold the door. Your good impression will travel throughout the office network.

Bonus: Return the Favor When You’ve Landed Your Job

Congratulations! You finally landed! Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Remember all those who helped you follow the key steps to your sought-after career, and never pass up an opportunity to help others land jobs they love.

Returning the favor will make you even more appreciative of having found the right career for you. And, when you look for your next job, you will find that you’ve built a network of helpful people on whom you can rely.

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Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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