How To Choose A Career Path: 7 Steps To Take Before Choosing A Career

How choose a career path that is right for your skills and interests sometimes seems challenging. Having a career you can enjoy and do well in? In fact, If you are stuck for job ideas and knowing where your skills might best be served, it is worth taking the time to come up with a career development plan. Simply follow these 7 steps to choosing a career…

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How To Choose A Career

Choosing the right career can be difficult, but knowing how to choose a career, that is having a defined career direction will help you with getting a job. But with a little hard work, some planning, and some serious self-reflection, you can set yourself on a path towards a fruitful, fulfilling career that can provide for you and your family.

Choosing A Career

A career is the sum of your professional journey. Many people embark on a career because it can help them achieve their goals, such as acquiring more knowledge and experience, taking on more responsibility, or earning higher salaries. But finding a career that best suits you takes time and your career will likely shift throughout your working life. You may end up changing roles or industries as your interests, motivations, and needs change.

That is to say that a career plan is a strategy you will continuously develop to manage your learning and progression throughout your working life. Consisting of stages, its purpose is to help you visualise the actions you need to take to achieve your career goals, and how to put these actions into practice.

A survey carried out by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that those born between 1958 and 1964 held an average of 12.4 jobs between the ages of 18 and 54 average person spends around one-third of their life working, so it is no surprise that many people want to find a career that will be a good fit for them. Choosing a career first means learning as much as you can about yourself, your goals, and the larger context of work.

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Use the list below to help you begin that process.

Have A Good Career Plan: Career planning is important for a number of reasons which include, having a career development plan in place reduces the risk of you making impulsive decisions, and it helps you to recognise when you’re ready to look for new opportunities and develop new skills.

Identify Your Skills And Interests: Choosing a career is a big deal. You will have to spend a significant amount of your life at work and so in order to enjoy your job, remain motivated and fulfil your potential, you need to make your career choices wisely.

However, to get started, you first need to know yourself. This means taking stock of your skills and assessing your interests and values. It is important to understand your range of skills and knowledge, so you can see if they are a good fit for the job you would like to do. Being aware of the skills you have also helped to highlight any gaps that may need to be filled to achieve your goals.

To do so, make a list of all your transferable and specialist skills, with examples of when you have demonstrated each. An honest assessment of your skills, values and interests will prove useful when narrowing down your options in the next step. You can also see where you measure up in terms of the skills employers are looking for. Consider where you are now, where you want to be and how you are going to get there when it comes to fulfilling your career aspirations. If choosing a career has left you feeling lost, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • What are my interests, motivations and values?
  • What did I most enjoy at university?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I want?
  • What do I want from my career?
  • What is important to me?

If you are struggling to identify your strengths, weaknesses and character traits, take a practice, called psychometric tests. This test could help bring them to light. By the end of this step, you will have identified the sort of jobs that will suit you.

Make A Decision: Now you are ready to start making decisions. Combine what you have learned about yourself with what you have discovered about your options and the graduate jobs market. From your job ideas list, decide which role interests you the most and select one or two alternatives to fall back on if you’re not able to pursue your first choice.

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To help make a good decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I enjoy doing the job every day?
  • Does it meet most of my preferences?
  • Do I have the right skills?
  • Does the company fit with my values?
  • Are there any location/financial/skills limitations I need to take into account?
  • Is the job realistic in terms of salary?

If you are struggling to reach a conclusion, there are a number of exercises you can try to aid the decision-making process. This listing of the pros and cons of a particular job or career is often useful, as is completing a personal SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths – What skills, traits, certifications and connections would you bring to the role that nobody else could? What makes you unique?
  • Weaknesses – What areas could you improve on? Do you lack any skills holding you back from excelling in the role you would like to pursue?
  • Opportunities – Is your industry growing? Could you take advantage of your competitors’ mistakes or gaps in the market?
  • Threats – Could your weaknesses slow your progression at work? Is there anything else that may stand in the way of your development, such as changes in technology?

Reflect On Your Motivations: Once you have put together a list about yourself, turn to your motivations for working. Perhaps you want a career that will pay a higher entry-level salary than comparable occupations, or one that promises more flexibility so you can work from anywhere. Most careers won’t feature everything you’d like, so it’s important to understand your priorities. Below, we have detailed a sample priorities list. Think over what you would include on your list and how you would organize your priorities, such as

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Autonomy
  • Work/life balance
  • Flexibility
  • Career growth

Set Long-Term Achievable Goal: What does your most perfect life look like? Make a list of your long-term goals, both personal and professional, to help you understand what it might take to reach them. For example: Do you want to rise past the managerial ranks and advance to the board of directors of a company? Do you want to own a house? Do you want to be able to travel and how often?

Your career plan should outline how you will get to where you want to be, what actions are needed and when, and separated into your short, medium and long-term goals. Constantly review your progress, especially after each short-term goal is reached. You must also establish a backup career development plan, in case your situation changes. Map several alternative paths to your long-term goal, considering how you will overcome the types of problems you might encounter – such as training requirements – at each step.

Your first short-term goal may involve improving your CV and cover letter. Other short or medium-term targets could include undertaking relevant internships, gaining volunteering experience or attending careers fairs. Finally, always remember that career planning is a continuous process. Revisit and review your aims and objectives throughout your career, and don’t feel constrained by the goals you’ve set – the structure of a career plan should help you clearly map out the route to trying something new.

Examine Your Future Financial Security: One of the most important things to consider is if the career path you’re choosing will provide you with an acceptable level of financial security. In other words, will you be able to make enough money to support yourself and your family?

Do your calculation very well to figure out what your take-home salary needs to be. Take into account your health insurance and retirement options as well. You may want to see a financial advisor before making any decisions. Remember, this does not have to be a lot of money or enough money by somebody else’s standards. All that matters is that it’s enough for you and what you want for your life.

Scrutinize Your Future Job Stability: Job markets fluctuate as society needs different things at different times. Certain jobs are also always in demand or frequently unstable. You will need to consider if the career you choose is stable enough for you and your desires for the future

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