Three Ways to Determine Your Long-Term Career Direction
Choosing a career is a much more complicated process than taking a simple career test. We have clients come to us often who want to find that ideal job, and have read a book or taken a career assessment only to still feel lost. It’s frustrating, understandably, because we all want to be successful and happy with our choice of career.
Career tests are wonderful because they provide insight into your talents and skills, personality type, or interests, which are very important considerations in defining your direction. However, they are not meant to be, and they don’t profess to be, the end-all, be-all in determining your career path. They provide pieces to the puzzle, but not all of them. If you’ve taken a career test and still need help clarifying your direction, or you haven’t but would like someplace to start, these three factors can help you begin.
1) Start with You. I always tell our clients that they need to find a career that is a mirror image of who they are as a person. To do so requires reflection and self-awareness. Think about who you are as a person — what your values are, what lifestyle you want, and your interests — as places to start in knowing what you want in a job.
Action Tip: Take the time for self-reflection. You may find it helpful to write down your thoughts in a journal. Make a list of what is most important to you in your life to help you define your values. For example, is health and wellness a value, and is this something you want to honor in your work by helping people with theirs? Or is it something you want to solely honor in your personal life for yourself?
2) Know Your Skills. To find a long-term career that really fits you, you need to make sure you have the skills for it. For example, someone who faints at the sight of blood may decide that a career in nursing wouldn’t be a good fit. Someone who hates math may decide to steer clear of an accounting career.
Action Tip: Write down all of your skills. Ask a trusted friend to review your list and see what they can realistically add to it (sometimes others see things we don’t see in ourselves.)
3) Consider Work Environment. Although you may find a career path that you love, if you don’t love the office environment or corporate culture, this can have a negative impact on your job satisfaction. Start to think about your personality type. Are you more introverted or extroverted, for example? An introverted personality may be uncomfortable with lots of group projects and meetings, whereas an extroverted personality may find it too boring to work alone.
Action Tip: Take a personality test and research your long-term career choices in accord with the results. There are some great free quizzes on www.onetcenter.org.
Once you have taken the time to determine your values, your skills, and the ideal work environment you would be comfortable with, you can start to research careers that can truly reflect who you are.