Choosing a career can feel overwhelming and confusing. With opportunities in a number of industries and fields, it’s tough to know which career path will be the best fit for your life. Start by learning more about yourself, through self-assessments and other tools, and then explore various occupations that interest you. From there, create a shortlist of the most interesting career opportunities to help you make a decision.
Learn About Yourself
The most important step when choosing a career is assessing yourself and figuring out what opportunities appeal to you. Aspects about yourself will impact your ability to succeed in certain industries, as well as your overall happiness. If you don’t enjoy interacting in social situations, a career in event planning or politics probably won’t be much fun. When you’re taking the time to learn about yourself, consider your personality traits, values, skills, and interests. These aspects will play a role in what jobs you choose to pursue.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what jobs might fit with your personality and interests, use resources like career tests or self-assessment tools to create a list of occupations. You could also make an appointment with a career counselor to gain some outside perspective about jobs that may interest you. During this part of the career exploration period, you should also make a list of goals for yourself and your life. It’s not easy to succeed in any career path if you don’t have clearly defined short- and long-term goals that you are working to achieve.
Exploring Career Options
After you get an idea of what careers might fit with your interests and personality, you can start creating a list of those that appeal to you. If you take multiple assessments and find that several jobs show up on every page of results, these are probably worth exploring further. Creating a master list will help keep you organized and give you a place to make notes about what you learn through research.
Even if you don’t think a certain job sounds appealing, it’s worth spending some time to explore it a bit more. You could find out that the career involves something different from what you expect. As you perform research on various career opportunities, look for people in your network who are working in these fields. Talking to someone who works in an area you’re interested in could offer insight into the daily tasks and expectations in a certain role.
Interview and Discuss Options
After you’ve narrowed your list of career options down to a handful of appealing jobs, start applying to open positions. You’ll learn more about the expectations and workload when you meet with hiring managers. The interview process is also the perfect time to ask questions and request information about opportunities for advancement.
If you start your career in your mid-20s, you could be working for four decades or more before retirement. At an average of 40 hours per week, your career could take up more than 83,000 hours of your life, so it’s important to look for a path that will bring you happiness and fulfillment.