Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Career

Office workers working as a team.

A career is not something that can be chosen in a few days, so expect to invest some time into doing career research. (Image: Rawpixelimages via Dreamstime)

When a person comes of age, they are finally met with that daunting question of what career path they want to follow. Choosing the wrong way could lead to future problems, which is why this guide is designed to help you choose the perfect career for your future.

Adulting 101: Choosing a career the right way

A career is not something that can be chosen in a few days, so expect to invest some time into doing career research. This includes online and library analysis, attending workshops, using tools offered through assessment results, informational interviews, and getting career-related experience.

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A question many people encounter when they are starting in the working world or considering a career change is how to choose the right career. Selecting the wrong job that does not utilize your talents and skills can lead to dissatisfaction down the line and career disruptions.

Whether trying to decide where to look for your first job or ponder a possible career change, below are some factors to consider when choosing a career.

Seven steps in choosing a career

Although going with the flow can sometimes be beneficial, this does not always result in success. The famous saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

1. Determine your natural talents

We all have specific tasks that come easy to us, which are known as natural talents. When we use our natural skills in the workplace, we enjoy going to work and likely receive praise for our performance. Therefore, knowing your natural talents is key to choosing the right career.

Of course, people can perform other tasks, but those tasks do not provide a sense of satisfaction and feel more like work. Determine what you enjoy doing and how those skills can be applied to a job.

Group of coworkers having a project meeting.
A flexible work environment, for example, might allow you to deliver projects at your own pace, while a structured climate would require specific deadlines and strict guidelines. (Image: jacoblund via Envato Elements)

2. Ascertain your work style – flexible vs. structured work environment

Determining your work style is essential because it can conflict with your career choice. Each of us has a preferred work style that allows us to perform at our best, even if we don’t realize it. A flexible work environment, for example, might allow you to deliver projects at your own pace, while a structured climate would require specific deadlines and strict guidelines. Decide which style works better for you by determining the type of environment you tend to thrive in.

3. Choose a preferred location

Decide on your preferred work location and whether you would mind a job that requires some travel. Your location preference could vary from corporate headquarters to a home office. Ask yourself how often you like to work away from home and if you mind traveling for your job. If living out of a suitcase does not appeal to you and you need consistency in your workplace, avoid careers that require a lot of travel.

4. Decide how much social interaction you need

Do you enjoy working with others or prefer to work alone? If you are motivated by the needs of others and your ability to provide a solution, then choose a job that involves a lot of interaction and teamwork. Some people shy away from interacting with co-workers and clients and prefer behind-the-scenes work where they don’t have to deal with complicated workplace dynamics. Being aware of your social needs is critical when it comes to choosing the right career.

When choosing a career, decide on your preferred work location and whether you would mind a job that requires some travel.
Decide on your preferred work location and whether you would mind a job that requires some travel. (Image: Seaonweb via Dreamstime)

5. Consider the work-life balance

Do you value a short commute and spending evenings at home relaxing? Do you live for the weekend and like to make the most of your spare time? If you’re the type of person who looks forward to having ample spare time away from work, choose a career that will provide you with plenty of time away from the office. Look for jobs with regular hours that do not require you to work overtime or on weekends.

6. Take stress into account

Some of us thrive on the pressure of big deadlines or being involved in an important project. People trust you in this role and expect you will deal well with the pressure. We all have different stress thresholds. You may do well in a high-stress career if you thrive under pressure. But if stress makes you want to throw in the towel, look for jobs that offer a behind-the-scenes role and are more laid-back.

7. Establish a desired salary

As you look ahead in your career, decide what your expectations are regarding pay. If you are single, perhaps you plan to have a family later. Or maybe you’re part of a successful two-income family and need to decide whether you’re comfortable living on less money or compromising on other career aspects, such as work-life balance, to earn a better income. If money is the reward you seek, many career options exist.

In Conclusion

Many factors are involved in selecting a career that best suits you, ranging from your natural talents and interests to where you would like to work and the desired salary. Often, the best way to help you determine which careers are a good fit is to asses your personal preferences based on your personality. In contrast, other times, it is good to focus on general skills that anyone can develop.

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