“How do I find the right career for me” is a question that causes most of us to sweat through our shirts and bang our heads against the wall. If that’s happening to you, you’re NOT alone. You’ve come to the right place! There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but below you’ll find 5 ways to get closer to the answer. In fact, every career video at Careers Out There is designed to help you reach that answer and find the right career.
In the video above (the first video I ever made for this site), I share how I first confronted this question when choosing a major in college and then tell how it all worked out. I’ve re-posted the video with the hopes that it helps you to watch someone other than yourself confront this big question.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT CAREER FOR ME?
Some people actually get lucky enough to know what they’ll be doing with their lives before high school even starts. There was a guy I went to high school with who was never seen without a camera. You would have thought he had that thing surgically attached to his body. Today he’s a professional photographer who recently shot the cover for Sports Illustrated!
If you’re not like that guy and you’re instead sweating through the “how do I find the right career for me” question, grab a towel and dive into the 5 answers below. They’re all thinking exercises that require you to take a good look in the mirror and really get to know yourself. If you prefer another approach, you could take career tests – we’ve got 2 of the best here on the site. They’re not free, but that’s because they have real value. You could also check out our video guide to informational interviewing, which guides you through how to meet with people who do work that interests you, which ultimately helps you find the right career.
Otherwise, if you’re ready for some thinking exercises, grab a pen so you can write down your thoughts! Once you get to know yourself, you’ll have some guidelines to help you decide what careers to explore. Next time we’ll take it a step further with 5 more answers to the big question. Those answers will require you to not just think but to take action: 5 Actions To Help Find the Right Career.
1) HOBBIES / FREE TIME
Think about the kind of stuff you like to do in your free time and are good at. Do you like working with your hands? With your mind? Being around lots of people? Doing your own thing? Do you coach a team or tutor kids? Interact with nature? Do you like numbers? Puzzles? Writing? A certain type of video game? Being in front of an audience? There are careers that make use of your skills and interests…and sometimes they’re a few steps removed from the obvious. For example, just because you like coaching your local little league doesn’t necessarily mean you should be a professional coach. But you clearly embrace leadership skills, which apply to many types of careers and can serve as a guide in your career search. I recently interviewed someone for an upcoming episode who always loved sports statistics. Thanks to that, he realized he was great with numbers and today has a thriving career as a mortgage banker. Having a numbers-focused job is fun for him and comes naturally since it matches his skills.
2) WHAT DO YOU VALUE?
What’s important to you? What does “success” mean to you? Is it having lots of money? Owning fancy cars and houses? Having lots of free time? Having lots of fun at work? Having a big family? Following a dream? Living in the city? The country? The suburbs? Living overseas? All of these things can impact which career opportunities will fit you and be available to you. For example, if you’re obsessed with the auto industry but are set on living near your farm in Wyoming, you probably have to choose one or the other. A guy I went to college with placed a very high value on money. Wherever he went throughout college, he was always holding the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and Money magazine. Today he’s a commercial real estate mogul in New York City overseeing billions of dollars of commercial real estate.
3) WHAT TYPE OF LIFE DO YOU WANT
Do you picture yourself living a conventional life where perhaps you settle down young and start a family in the suburbs? Or do you want to live an adventurous life where your career could take you to just about anywhere in the world at any time? For example, if you’re set on wanting to be a war photographer, you’ll probably spend most of your life traveling the world and risking your life. For the adventurous types, job and life can often blur together…but the adventurous type might not be able to see doing it any other way.
4) WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE
The expression “nothing comes for free” is true. If you’re a young, corporate lawyer or investment banker getting paid the big bucks, you’re probably going to have close to zero free time. If you’re an airline pilot or a truck driver, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time away from home. If you want to become a college professor, you’re going to be in school a long time to get that PhD. If you want to be a famous actress, you’re going to have to humiliate yourself on a daily basis at casting calls and tryouts where your talents and looks will be picked apart by a panel of others. What is your threshold for all of this? It helps to know. The second band I managed was one of my favorite bands. Ultimately, they realized they were not collectively willing to sacrifice by logging the necessary hours on the road to tour and do what it takes to find success as a band. That led everyone to go their separate ways and pursue different paths. As an attorney recruiter, I talked to young lawyers every day who were discovering that they didn't want to sacrifice their free time anymore in exchange for their giant salaries. These are tough discoveries once you've settled into a path.
5) WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE & BEST CLASSES IN SCHOOL
What classes feel like fun to you? Which ones come so naturally that they just seem easy? Are you great at science? Math? Or do you hate science and math but love your English classes? That was me! I knew then that I couldn’t be a doctor or a scientist or economist. But maybe I’d end up as a writer, teacher, lawyer, or some other communications-based career. Analyzing what classes fit you is a great step towards finding a career that fits you.