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How to Choose a Career

choose a career

A career dictates a lot about your life. What career you choose determines what major you study while in college. It influences what life you can afford and what you spend so much of your time doing each week of your life until retirement.

Choosing a career is a big decision to make and high school seniors each year are stressing out about how to go about deciding their future. But deciding a career path doesn’t need to be too stressful. Finding your passion is largely about self-awareness and researching all your options. By following the suggestions below you can decide your future career with ease.

  1. Understand Yourself
  2. Research Options
  3. Weigh Options
  4. Make a Plan

Understand Yourself

self introspection
 
Becoming more self-aware can be especially difficult for younger, high school students who are still figuring out so much about who they are. But this journey into self-exploration can be fun and eye opening too! You want to discover and record your skills, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and passions.

Start exploring the things you love right now. This is the first part of the journey that leads you to a career you’ll love. You also want to know your values, or what you will and won’t do in a job.

This is where learning more about your personality type will come in handy. For instance, if you are more introverted, then working with customers may be on your list of things you don’t want in a job. If you love being up on your feet then having a more hands-on job might be on your list of things you do want in a job.

Taking the Myers Briggs Personality Test might help you better understand key aspects of your personality.

If you have trouble finding these personal answers within yourself, there are some things you can do to find the answers.

Ask Yourself Questions

Giving yourself an introspective interview can really help learn more about yourself. Questions are good because they help you analyze yourself and what you do and don’t like. It also helps you look at yourself more realistically. You may like the idea of being a lawyer, but you have to ask yourself if you are willing to do all that is necessary to become a lawyer, and if you’ll really be happy with the required daily tasks of a lawyer.

Questions help you see patterns and become more self-aware, which is paramount to finding a career path for you. They also help you to know what you would like in a job (so you can accumulate a list of options) and what you wouldn’t like in a job (so you can cancel certain options out).

To conduct your introspective interview you can ask yourself the following questions, or you can have someone else ask them while you respond and talk about your answers together.

  • If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose __, because __.
  • I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do __. It’s interesting to me because __.
  • If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try __, because __.
  • If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in __, because __.
  • My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at __, because __.
  • The thing I love most about my current job is __, because __.
  • If my boss would let me, I’d do more of __, because __.
  • If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose __, because __.
  • When I retire, I want to be known for __, because __.
Take an Aptitude Test

There are lots of online career tests you can take. A career quiz will give you ideas about what fields and jobs that might be right for you.

You’ll be asked questions to determine your skills and interests. Then the test will pair your results with careers that best fit your answers. You can then weigh these different options and research them to help you pick one. Below are two free tests you can take right now:

The MAPP Career Assessment

Career Aptitude Test

Research Options

research careers
 
After you have some options in mind you can learn about your choices in order to make an informed final decision. Don’t only research specific jobs though. This can be really helpful, but think about broader fields of work as well.

There are fields of work and then there are jobs in those fields. Sometimes deciding a field of work first will help you find the specific job you’re looking for.

Types of Careers
  • Arts and Communication
  • Business
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Humanities
  • Law and Government
  • Medical
  • Science
  • Social Services

Once you’ve decided on a career field, you can narrow your search down to a specific job in that field. Deciding which job to pick is easier if you read the requirements or the responsibilities for each job, and see if they interest you. You can search actual job openings to find the most common real-world requirements involved. Indeed and ZipRecruiter are two popular job search websites where you can see real postings for the careers you’re interested in.

You can research other important aspects of the career by visiting PayScale.com. This website has surveys about almost every profession imaginable, and can tell you things like average salary, what people on the high end of the job get paid vs the lower end. You can even search by your location and experience to assess how much you can expect to get paid.

They also list the skills that are most important to the field, the tasks and requirements involved, how people review the job, gender percentages in the field, and the health benefits you generally get. It’ll even show you related jobs and jobs in your area and it’s all shown to you in pretty, simple graphics.

Do Internships and Job Shadowing

Internships and job shadowing can be a great way to get some hands-on experience with the careers you’re interested in. Often your school advisers can help you find internships and job shadowing opportunities near you.

Conduct an Informational Interview

If you don’t have the time for internships and job shadowing, you can conduct an informational interview. It’s like a reversed job interview. You visit with someone who has the job you’re interested in, and you ask them a series of questions to get a feel for their job, what they did to get where they are, and any other insights or advice they might have for you. Here are some example questions you could ask from the Berkeley University of California:

  • What are your main responsibilities as a…?
  • What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
  • What do you like most about your work?
  • What do you like least about your work?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make?
  • How does your position fit within the organization/career field/industry?
  • How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
  • What current issues and trends in the field should I know about/be aware of?
  • What are some common career paths in this field?
  • What kinds of accomplishments tend to be valued and rewarded in this field?
  • What related fields do you think I should consider looking into?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • How did you begin your career?
  • How do most people get into this field? What are common entry-level jobs?
  • What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter this field?
  • How relevant to your work is your undergraduate major?
  • What kind of education, training, or background does your job require?
  • What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
  • What is the profile of the person most recently hired at my level?
  • What are the most effective strategies for seeking a position in this field?
  • Can you recommend trade journals, magazines or professional associations which would be helpful for my professional development?
  • If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
  • I’ve read that the entry-level salary range for this field is usually in the range of ______? Does this fit with what you’ve seen? (Don’t ask about the person’s actual salary.)
  • What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job (or field)?
  • Can you suggest anyone else I could contact for additional information?

Weigh Options

weigh options
 
Now that you have a couple choices in mind, and have done your due diligence learning all about each one, you have to make a final decision. When making this final decision about your future, it’s important that you keep certain things in mind.

Think about the future, retirement, the family life you want. Think about what you would like your life to be known for and any other long-term goals you may have for your life. Will this career choice help you reach those goals?

Make sure you take priority over what you want to do over any societal expectations pressed upon you. After all, you are the one who’s going to live with this career.

Make a Plan

make plan
 
If you’re graduating high school and starting college soon, then you’ll want to not only pick a college but a major, and possibly minor, that will be useful for the field you want to go into. You can also start taking advantage of high school and college advisers and mentors if your school has a program like that. These counselors can act as career coaches to help you map out your career path.

In your research and studies you should figure out the steps, milestones, and requirements that people in your field must go through. Then you can plan these steps out in your own life. Record these plans in a place or a calendar that you can easily revisit and adjust as needed. Plan is a great website that can connect to your gmail or outlook account to help you plan your future effectively in one easy to use space. If you need some help planning financially, a Check City Personal Loan may be able to help you as well.
 
choose a career
 
Whether you are a college freshman looking to decide on a career path for the first time, or a seasoned career veteran looking for your dream job, the process is going to look about the same. By following this guidance you can learn more about yourself and discover what career path is the best for you, and find happiness and success in your professional life.


READ MORE
Check out “How to Change Careers in 3 Simple Steps” to learn some other steps to changing careers.

Read “11 Important Qualities to Have When Changing Careers” to see what skills almost all professions are looking for today.

Poor Job-Hunting Habits that Many Fall For

Looking for a new job can be one of the most stressful and tiring aspects in life. Because seemingly everything else, or in other words providing for a family, paying bills, furnishing various needs and desires, all hangs upon landing a well-paying job, the process of finding such a job can be extremely anxiety inducing for the individual.

Locating a worthwhile job can be hard enough as it is, but when a person accidentally falls into one of the common bad habits of finding a job, that process can become even more difficult. There are many common habits that people naturally operate under once they have switched into job hunt mode, and while some of these are good, others can be detrimental to the efforts of the individual.

One of the good habits of those who are looking for a job includes being determined. Often times, when people begin their search for a new job, there is a very powerful inner drive or motivation to keep looking until one has found the job that will fit best for them.

Keep a Positive Attitude

This is a great and productive habit or mental attitude for those who are search out a job. But the opposite feelings, feelings of negativity and despair, are just as common among individuals who are looking for a new job.

Harboring negative feelings while looking for new job can create a personal mentality and atmosphere of failure, wherein it is extremely unlikely that a person will even allow themselves to succeed if the opportunity does present itself. Because the mental outlook and attitude of a job seeker so closely tied to their success, it is vitally important that a person who is looking for more money from their job, better hours, and an overall comfortable fit from their job keep their positive attitude about them even in times of rejection and despair.

It’s a Job Interview, Not Improv!

Along with harboring negative feelings and a dim outlook on one’s prospects of success while looking for a job, another poor habit that some job hunters often fall into while on the search is deciding that they can just improvise during the interview phase of a job application. The interview phase of any job application is perhaps the most important aspect

that decides if a person gets hired for the position or passed over for another applicant.

Interviewing well is its own topic of discussion, but a far too frequent habit of those who are looking for a new job is deciding to just “wing it” when it comes to the interview. Because an interview is the final exam, as it were, for a job applicant, it is the best and last time to really impress the hiring manager of the company or organization.

Because of the interview’s great importance and weight in determining the outcome of one’s job search, those who would traditionally settle on winging it should commit to themselves now that they will never go into an interview room unprepared again. As soon as they do, they will notice an immediate change in the way they go about searching for jobs and a likewise immediate change in the effectiveness of their application interviews.

Do Your Research

Preparing for an interview is simple. One only needs to do their homework so that they will know what to say, what questions to ask, and so that they can respond intelligently to any questions they are asked by the hiring authority.
By doing research into the company beforehand, as well as research into the open position and its daily duties, a person will be able to enter the interview room prepared to both answer and ask meaningful questions. By responding intelligently and with informed knowledge to the questions of the hiring manager, and by asking in turn additional intelligent questions regarding the open position, a person will be able to stand out in the minds of the hiring authorities and elevate themselves above the rest of the applicants.

Be Confident, Not Cocky

The last major habit that people searching for a new job should avoid is really two, or rather a double edge sword of ineffectiveness in job hunting with one bad habit on either end of the spectrum. Those two bad habits that are connected yet opposite each other are acting too informal in the presence of the hiring manager and acting too arrogant in the same situation.

By swinging one way or the other in either appearing too relaxed and unprofessional or too cocky and arrogant, a person will immediately put off the person doing the interview by their conflicting personalities. Avoiding bad habits like these and others will greatly increase the ability of a job seeker to find the employment they desire.

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