Imagine this: you’re fresh out of university with a bachelor or master’s degree, and you’re ready to enter the working world. You jump into the first opportunity you see, only to realize five years down the road that it isn’t what you want to be doing in your career. You start exploring other options and find a field that you really love. But you’ll need to start from square one, gaining experience and working your way up the ladder because you may not have the necessary experience to transfer laterally into that position. You feel defeated — as if you wasted years of your time working towards the wrong goal!
Many people have found themselves in exactly this position. That’s why choosing the right career path from the beginning can make a big difference in your life. Whether you’re choosing a career for the first time or you’re ready to make a swap, Whitman Associates, Inc. can help you with career planning tips that lead to a fulfilling job that allows you to live the lifestyle you want. Ready to find out which career is right for you? Check out these four tips to get started!
1. Start Thinking About Your Career Path Early
You don’t have to have your whole life planned out, but thinking about choosing the right career as early as possible can help you find your niche professionally. Which career is right for you? It’s the one where you’re doing something that interests, excites, and challenges you but also provides the financial means and benefits you desire. Make a list of things that you find interesting. Your list could include everything from numbers and statistics to design and event planning. Anything that might potentially spark your interest belongs on this list!
If you know people in careers that align with your interests, ask them about their work, what they love about their job, and what they dislike about their job. The answers you get can help you make a more informed decision when choosing the right career. Once you’ve talked to a few people and done some research into careers that align with your interests, you should be able to narrow them down into three or four options. If you’re interested in writing, music, and psychology, for example, potential careers could include:
- Music Engineer
- Concert/Event Organizer
- School Counselor
- Profiler for Law Enforcement
With a career in mind, you can look into what it takes to start along each of these job paths. What type of education and experience do you need? How competitive is each industry? What’s the salary range? The answers can help you narrow down your career path even further.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
Choosing the right career is all about being honest with yourself. While sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what you really want, we have a shortcut that can help you find the answer: a Venn diagram. Create a Venn diagram that includes three circles that list the following:
- What you’re good at doing
- What sparks your interest
- What pays enough to finance your life
The overlap of doing what you love and what you’re good at will result in you being happy but potentially unable to make ends meet. The overlap between what you’re good at and what pays well ends up with you financially stable but maybe bored or unhappy. Choosing the right career starts where all three categories overlap. Place each of your career options in the appropriate spot on the Venn diagram, and you’ll quickly realize which careers will lead to the most balanced life for you.
3. Research, Research, Research
You’ll never find answers to which career is right for you without doing a lot of research. Informational interviews are one tool you can use to learn more about careers that sound like a good fit. You’ll need to find people in those careers and reach out to them to ask for an informational interview. While some people may turn you down, others will be happy to share their personal experiences in a particular field or industry.
Ask questions to help you gain insight into the highs and lows of each career, whether the day-to-day work fits in with your preferred lifestyle, and how long it takes to progress up the ladder to the highest possible position and salary. These informational interviews can give you clarity on choosing the right career without actually having to experience it for yourself!
Some questions to consider incorporating into your informational interview include:
- How did you get into this career?
- What are the most common entry-level positions for this career path?
- Which skills are most valuable to your job?
- What do your daily responsibilities include?
- What do you like least/most about your job?
- What advice would you give to someone interested in this career?
You might also consider working a temporary position to get some hands-on experience in the industry without committing to a long-term position.
4. Choose Your Career & Make a Plan
If you’ve made it through all these steps, it should be pretty clear which jobs you should pursue. Now, it’s time to look back at the informational interviews with people in these positions and follow their journey. Enroll in the courses they suggest and look for opportunities to gain experience in the skills that are most needed for this job. Knowing the path those before you took when choosing the right career for them can help guide you and provide direction on the way to success.
Find More Guidance
At Whitman Associates, Inc., we’re proud to celebrate 50 years of providing expert staffing services for both employers and employees. When choosing the right career path, we can help you at any point along the way. Reach out to us today to learn more about the industries we serve and the qualifications you might need to reach your career goals!