What to Consider When Choosing a Career

Friday, February 16, 2024
What to Consider When Choosing a Career

If you're deciding on your first career or thinking about transitioning into a new field, you might be wondering, "Where should I begin?" Consider these factors as you explore opportunities for starting or changing your career path (it may be helpful to have a specific field or career in mind as you read this blog).

Write a list of your hard and soft skills - You may discover that you have more skills to work with than you initially thought! Hard skills are specific to certain jobs, such as carpentry, graphic design, programming, etc. On the other hand, soft skills are more universal, such as communication, organization, teamwork, and so on. Once you have a list of your skills, you can assess your strengths and areas for improvement. Highlight the ones you consider most important, or mark those you would like to enhance. These skills can serve as a foundation for choosing a career path.

Consider previous jobs or those of others - If you have prior work experience, take the time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each job you have held. Reflect on whether your previous work history has motivated you to consider a career change, and whether this entails pursuing a different job within the same field or exploring a completely new path. If you have not yet had the opportunity to gain work experience, seek input from those around you regarding their current jobs. It may also be beneficial to ask them if their current position is where they initially started. Chances are the answer will be 'No,' which can provide you with encouragement and insights into how others have successfully transitioned between jobs and careers over time

Consider your salary expectations - It is important to understand that the salary in your current field may differ significantly from a completely different field. Even if you choose to stay in the same field but pursue a new position, there is no guarantee that the salary will be remotely similar. If you have been with the same company for over 10 years, the pay and benefits may not be the same as another company in the same industry. Jobs that work on commission will have a different pay structure compared to those that do not. Remember, if your sole motivation for changing careers is to increase your salary, it is important to recognize that your options may be limited and based on your past work experience.

Consider your preferred work/social environment and correlating personality - Some professionals thrive in small, remote teams, while others excel in larger teams with opportunities for in-person social interaction. Reflect on whether you enjoy giving directions and executing tasks, or prefer meeting new people and building close-knit relationships. This exercise doesn’t only have to apply to working individuals. Consider how you feel when you are in a group at a party, volunteering at a local charity, or some other event during which you interact with others. Do you prefer being in a large crowd, or with an intimate group of friends? If you're uncertain about which environment you find the most satisfaction in, or simply want to learn more about yourself, consider taking a personality test like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This will not only help you understand more about yourself, but about those with whom you interact with on a personal and/or professional level.

Consider where you want to work - It's important to assess if you are open to the possibility of relocating, either permanently or temporarily, and determine if your current location aligns with your long-term goals. If you're seeking a change, explore job opportunities in different parts of the country or even in other countries. Keep in mind that certain careers may be better suited to larger or smaller cities, or specific regions within the country. Consider if the career path/change you’re looking for can be found where you are, or if you’ll need to relocate for the best chance at success.

Do you like repetition or all things new? - Different individuals have varying preferences when it comes to their work environment. While some professionals thrive in a routine where they do the same tasks every day, others thrive on new challenges and enjoy adapting to last-minute changes in their work agenda. When you are considering a career change or starting a new career, it is important to carefully review the "Responsibilities" section of job postings (the name may vary depending on the post). Take note of how the responsibilities are listed and how similar or different they are from one another. If the list is looking like the same thing written 5 different ways, this may be a good indicator that the job will require repetitive tasks. If each responsibility varies greatly, you will want to be prepared to wear multiple different hats while in that position.

Determine your motivation - Reflect on the reasons behind your career change or decision to start a new career. Are you seeking a job that allows you to contribute to your community, acquire new skills or talents, offers opportunities for tuition reimbursement for future education, provides the chance to explore new places, acts as a stepping stone towards owning your own business, or something else entirely? Consider the reason for your decision, and if it’s strong enough to motivate you to take the steps needed to succeed.

Check out this article by LinkedIn for more information on choosing your career path.

When deciding where to take your first career, or changing your current trajectory, consider what is driving you towards this decision, and how you can best make your aspirations a reality. There are plenty of resources available to you. If you’re a student, reach out to your campus’ Career Services Office for insights on where to start your search. You can also find a large database of articles related to choosing a career on Indeed. Wherever you are in your career search, there is support to be found!