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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

How to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided

How to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question we have all been asked countless times from early childhood all through our school-age years, and sometimes even as adults!

It’s a great question, and probably one that you will want to explore regularly in your life.

Finding the right career even when you’re undecided can be a challenge, but one worthy of investing your time to discover.

Do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life!

I will spare you platitudes like “do what you love and the money will follow.” But I do strongly encourage and promote the idea that you can “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life!”

To live a meaningful life filled with passion and make contributions worthy of your skills, talents, and abilities, you have to spend some time evaluating what you want out of your life and career. You will need to match your skillset and values with your position, which will take some thought and effort on your part.

If you want to know how to find the right career for you, read on.

How Often Do People Change Jobs?

We live in a unique time in history. Regardless of your level or specific area of education, you will have many choices in your life. You will probably hold many jobs (and possibly even multiple careers) throughout your lifetime.

Many people also choose to add to their education base more than once throughout their careers. This not only opens up more options but this also opens you up to more job or career changes.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.), the average person will change jobs 12 times in their lives. [1]

Those statistics vary depending upon age bracket, gender, and geography but regardless of where you fit into the stats, it will be vital for you over time to continually hone your skills, add to your resume, and enhance your “hire-ability”.

Fortunately, with a little focus and effort, it is relatively simple to improve your skills and raise the bar on your education through the virtually endless options for personal development, business training, and general education online.

Why Do People Change Jobs so Often?

There are numerous reasons why people change jobs often, including:

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  • More money and security
  • Benefits and perks
  • Satisfaction
  • Relocation
  • Layoffs and company consolidations
  • Better overall feeling of contribution
  • Feeling valued

…and those are just a few!

Regardless of whether you are happy in your current employment situation or you’re feeling like it is time for a change, there are ways you can find or create a more satisfying and personally fulfilling career.

In fact, there are far more opportunities now in our modern, globally-focused society to design the kind of career that can not only make you happy but also feel like you are contributing.

If you are on the hunt to find the right career, there are a few tips you should consider before settling on your next position.

6 Steps to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided

1. Start With a Complete “Personal Inventory Exercise” (P.I.E)

Most people build their resume and job search parameters around their specific education and work experience. While the degree (or degrees) you have and your previous job experience are important, you also have an entire set of unique life experiences that contribute to what you know and how you operate in the world.

Don’t underestimate the value of your life experience.

When working with a new coaching client, the first thing I do is walk them through a Personal Inventory Exercise (or P.I.E., as in “all the pieces of your PIE”).

Begin by pulling out a sheet of paper, journal, or a blank document on your computer and just start writing.

Your P.I.E. should start with the obvious elements like your formal education and work experience (including paid and unpaid work, internships, literally every job you had all the way back to your paper route when you were 12, or selling Girl Scout cookies).

What have you learned from each of those?

Starting with your education is ideal because it is easy to remember and will help to get you into a good flow.

Then, just keeping writing.

Put down all the workshops, seminars, independent study, work-abroad programs, arts, music, writing, books you have read, and audiobooks you have heard.

You can also include intangible pieces of your PIE, like your relationships (friendships, romantic, marriage) and what you learned from them, like painful life experiences like the loss of close friends or family members and parenting skills.

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Include also your travels and what you learned from other cultures, domestically or internationally.

When you finish, review everything, sum it all up in a few paragraphs and now you’re fully cocked and loaded for the next steps in your career discovery journey.

The ultimate purpose of doing this exercise is the profound insights you will glean from simply taking the time to realize just how valuable you are before you get started on your career search.

It forces you to see your own value based on a broader view. It allows you to see yourself as more than just a product of your formal education but also your ongoing life experience and independent interests.

You will likely be surprised and perhaps even amazed at what you discover through doing an exercise like the P.I.E.

2. Focus On Your Values

Understanding your core values will help you focus on the job you really want. [2]

Your values determine what is most important to you in your life. More than you might realize, your underlying core values are also your ultimate drivers when it comes to decision-making.

For example, after exploring your core values, you may find that freedom and independence are important to you that you might decide to set aside the “job” market for an entrepreneurial pursuit.

So, spend some time getting clear about your personal and business values by asking yourself exploratory questions like these:

  • What is most important to you?
  • What drives and motivates you?
  • How important is money to you?
  • What kind of people do you prefer to work with?
  • What do you admire in others who work in your field?
  • Do you prefer to collaborate or work independently?
  • What is a “deal-breaker” for you? In other words, what types of situations (or people) will you absolutely NOT tolerate?

Understanding your own values is an essential element in this process.

Prospective employers often ask value-based questions in the interview process, so understanding your own values will help you in landing your ideal job or career once you have discovered what you want to do.

3. What Are Your Short And Long-Term Career Goals?

It is always surprising to me how many people I encounter who don’t know where they want to be in a year or two, or five years, or 20 years. After all, how will you get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going?

Setting specific goals help you stay focused on your desired outcome. Writing those goals down is vital to the process as well. With your personal inventory and values in place, it should be simple to start writing down your goals.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” ~ Napoleon Hill

One commonly used goal-setting tool is called SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Sensitive

Using the SMART goal system is a great place to start. You should also set specific goals in life categories beyond your career, like personal, spiritual, education, and any other area that is important to you.

While I am a firm believer in long-term goals, you can only take action in the short-term because, in reality, you can only work on today. So, having a system for tracking your goals daily is powerful. You might start with 90-Day or Quarterly (short, achievable), then 1-Year, 5-year, and 20-year goals.

This will give you both a short and long-term view of how you see your life unfolding, which will give you important insights on how to choose your career path.

4. What Kind of Career Do You Really Want?

With the foregoing in mind, now consider your ideal options.

Make a list of the possibilities that fit into your P.I.E. – your values and your goals – and then ask yourself the question that we started with:

“What do I really want to be when I grow up?”

Let that little kid in you just dream for a few minutes about the “perfect” scenario.

Imagine yourself in your perfect job environment, doing what you love to do (so you never work a day in your life).

What does that look like? How does it feel? What are you doing on a day-to-day basis?

Consider the type of work you have already done, and take note of what made you feel like you were accomplishing something important.

Which jobs did you do (or possibly observed others do) that were “in the zone” for you? If there was a certain part of your job that you always looked forward to doing, what was that?

5. Make a List of Possible Career or Job Options

Now that you have a clear picture of what you would like to be doing, you can start making a list of the possibilities that might fit those parameters.

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List the careers you already know that fit the bill. Then, do some research to determine what else might be out there that you have not yet discovered.

Ask people in your network or on social media channels for information about those types of careers, or who they know that might be currently doing what you want to do.

“Who do you know?” is a very powerful question to ask your friends, family, business contacts, and social media connections.

When you track down a few of the people who are either doing what you do, working at a firm that you are considering, or know someone who is, have a conversation with those people and ask questions to gain insights about that particular job or career.

Once you have performed your research, then you’re ready to take your final step.

6. Choose the Options That You Think Will Work Best for You and Go For It!

Now for the fun part! Make a list of your chosen options in order of top priority. Then simply set your targets and start connecting with the companies on your list that have openings in your field (or might in the near future).

You can once again contact people in your network, and ask that magic question:

“Who do you know at [this company]?”

In your research process, you probably even made some new contacts that might help you go in the right direction or refer you to the right person to contact for an interview.

Good Luck on Your Search for the Right Career!

All of these empower you when it comes to finding your ideal career path. The previous six steps are designed to give you more clarity about what you really want to be doing.

Depending on what you are seeking, it may not always be easy to hit the bulls-eye on the first time out. But remember that clarity and focus allow you to keep your eye on the prize.

Keep up your persistence and go after what you really want, so you can live a life that brings you satisfaction and purpose through your chosen career path.

More Tips on How to Find the Right Career

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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Reference

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Jeffrey Howard

Jeffrey Howard is a Serial Entrepreneur, Peak Performance Coach and Consultant, Bio/NeuroHacker, Speaker, Author, Trainer, Musician and Producer

How to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided What Is Personal Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Career?

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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

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