Are you at a juncture in your career where you are thinking about making a change? Or maybe you are just starting your career or getting back into the workforce and trying to figure out which direction to go. Discovering the career that’s right for you can be difficult. The average person spends 1/3 of their life at work – over 90,000 hours in a lifetime! That’s a lot of time, so we want to choose something that fits in with our gifts, talents and preferences that we will enjoy.
There are so many options that it can be challenging to land on a particular career choice. Below are five tips that may help provide some direction in discovering your next career.
- Identify your interests
Interests are activities that you enjoy doing, lose all track of time as you are involved in doing them, and you look forward to doing them again. Ask yourself these questions:
- What activities attract and hold my attention?
- What types of work have I enjoyed doing in the past?
- What industries or functions appeal to me? What industries or functions don’t appeal to me?
- Do I enjoy working more as part of a team or more independently?
- What types of work do I dislike that I should avoid?
- Get clear on your strengths
Ask yourself, “What am I really good at?” and then ask others for their feedback. Reflect on your work and academic achievements as data to make this assessment. Examples of strengths might include things like writing, data analysis, organization, and innovation. Then, recognize those things that you aren’t good at and consider this information as well.
There are a few assessments that can assist in getting clear on your strengths including the Working Genius and CliftonStrengths. The Working Genius identifies six types of work activities and helps individuals identify types of work that bring them fulfillment and those that bring frustration. CliftonStrengths provides information on your top five areas of strength out of 34 strength themes.
- Clarify your core values
As you are exploring career options, it’s a good idea to clarify your core values, the things that are most important to you in how you live and work. As you think about potential careers, using your core values as a lens can be advantageous in choosing a path and an organization to work for.
- Identify your deal breakers
As you choose a new career, there are likely some things that are non-negotiables for you. Perhaps you have an interest in a particular career but you know that it won’t provide the opportunity for you to work from home – and that’s one of your deal breakers. Therefore, you can eliminate that option from consideration. Asking the following questions can help you think through your deal breakers:
- What hours are you willing to work?
- What is the maximum amount of time you are willing to commute each day?
- Are you okay working nights/weekends?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Do you want to work from home?
- Gather information on different careers
Once you work through the items above and have narrowed your preferences, it’s a good idea to do additional exploration on the different career options that could potentially be a fit. O*Net, www.onetonline.org, provides a wealth of information on various careers. In addition, talking to people in those jobs of interest to gather more information is a great strategy. You might even explore opportunities to shadow them!
Working through these five tips will help you in discovering the career that’s right for you. If you would like additional assistance, engaging a Career Coach to guide you through the exploration and search process can be advantageous.