Making a Career Choice When You Don't Have Any Idea What You Want to Do
With thousands of careers, occupations, and jobs to choose from, how do you make a career decision when you don't have any idea what you want to do? Finding the right career is difficult enough when you have some notion of what you're interested in, but for those who don't, choosing a career can be a daunting task. Well, rest assured, finding a good career, isn't an insurmountable task – even if you're starting from scratch. The steps below can help anyone make a good career choice.
1. Get to Know YourselfIt's nearly impossible to make a sound career choice without first performing a thorough self assessment. How can you expect to know what you want to do the rest of your life without knowing who you are? Performing a self assessment, that addresses your values, interests, skills and personality traits, will help you quickly rule out certain careers, and put you on the path to identifying more appropriate options. Today there are a myriad of self assessment tools (often referred to as Career Assessment Tests) available online. These tests are designed to gather information about a candidate and then produce a list of occupational matches. Career tests can be completed online for free. They're also administered by a trained career development professional. The benefit of using a trained career development professional is that they can help you interpret the results of your test.
2. Develop a Preliminary List of Potential CareersHaving completed a thorough self assessment, you should now have a preliminary list of occupations that match your values, interests and skill set. You'll now want to narrow this list to no more than ten occupations. Do this by first eliminating those careers that you know you're not interested in. For example, if your career test indicates that you should consider becoming a fire figher, but you know you don't want to fight fires, then scratch fire fighter off your list of potential occupations. Most people can narrow their list down to five to ten potential careers simply by eliminating those occupations they know they're not interested in. If that doesn't do the trick, then put together a list of the pros and cons for each career, and scratch those careers from your list that have the largest number of cons and least number of pros.
3. Learn More About Each of the Careers on Your ListNow that you've narrowed down your list to managable number of careers, it's time to explore each career in more depth. For each career, you'll want to review a job description, educational and training requirements, average earnings, job outlook, and advancement opportunities. After reviewing each of these elements in detail, you'll find several careers that no longer appeal to you. For example, you may decide that while being a teacher seemed like it would be fun, teachers just don't make enough money to support the lifestyle you want. After considering becoming a CPA you may decide that earning a bachelor's and master's degree in accounting just isn't for you. When everything is said and done, you should have a list of no more than three careers.
4. Conduct Informational InterviewsOne of the best ways to figure out which of the careers left on your list is right for you is to conduct informational interviews with professionals working within each occupation. Interviews will allow you to collect in-depth information you can't get any where else. Whereas much of the information found on the Web and in other publications is outdated and bias, information you receive firsthand from people in the industry is current and reliable. Before conducting any interview, make sure that you've prepared a list of relevant questions to ask the interviewee. Preparing beforehand will ensure that you come away from the interview with the information you need, and it shows the interviewee that you're serious about a career in their field. Conducting one-on-one interviews with industry professionals is also an excellent way to start building a professional network.
5. Narrow Your List to Just One OccupationBased on your research thus far, continue whittling down your list of possible career options until you have just one career option left. For example, you may have discovered during one of your informational interviews that becoming an FBI agent requires a lot of time away from family – a sacrifice you're not willing tomake, or that to become a veterinarian you must complete as much education as required to become an M.D., but that veterinarians make much less. After thoroughly reviewing the pros and cons of each career, and carefully considering the information you obtained from your interiews, you should be able to decide on one occupation to pursue.
6. Set Goals to Achieve Your CareerNow that you've decided on an occupation, it's time to put a plan in place that will help you find a job in your chosen career field. The first step to developing a successful career plan is setting goals. Realistic, achievable goals are an essential component of the career planning process. While goals must be realistic, they should also be flexible enough to accomodate change – which inevitably will occur. Like the rungs of a ladder, goals serve as incremental steps – each one bringing your closer and closer to your final objective(s).
7. Develop a Career Action PlanA career action plan (sometimes referred to as a Career Development Plan) helps you get from where you're at to actually accomplishing your goals. It's like a road map that gets you from point A – choosing an career – to point B – finding your first job, and eventually to point Z, as you grow and advance in your career.
8. Get the Training RequiredThe adage learn more, earn more couldn't be more true when it comes to long-term career success. Most careers require a formal education, or skilled training at minimum. Over a lifetime most successful professionals will continue to gain more education and training as they advance in their careers. It's very likely that your new career will have education and/or training requirements. You may need to complete an internship, apprenticeship, or earn a degree. The sooner you complete the training requirements for your new career, the sooner you'll be able to achieve the success you're looking for.
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