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Formulating Your Ideal Career Path

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

Finding the career of your choice can be quite a challenge. There are so many options and so many opinions influencing your decision that it is almost impossible to be fully happy with any decision that you make. In this blog, we will look at some simple steps that you can follow in formulating your ideal career path.

Identifying your Interests

The most important thing in finding the career that you will be happy with is to look into things that interest you. You will be very satisfied and happy with your job if you also enjoy doing what you are doing. Forcing yourself into something just because it might pay you well is not the right approach. Look for all kinds of interests, be that a hobby, the kind of environment you feel comfortable in, the people whose company you enjoy the most as well as the nature of tasks you enjoy the most. Anything that we can spend time on without any regret can be regarded as an interest. To arrive to a meaningful answer, you will need answers to questions like:

  • Do you enjoy working with people, data and numbers, creative ideas or real, tangible things? Are you happier operating equipment or preparing documents? Is there a combination of these that you would like?
  • What is your taste in books? Are you more of a movie lover than a bookworm? Is literature your cup of tea?
  • What type of events do you go for leisure and fun?
  • Do you spend more time indoors or outdoors?

Finding your values

At times, your values can be even more important than your interests in finding a satisfying career path. Spend some time on finding the answer to this question. For example, if financial success and money is something that you hold the most important then you will need a job that pays well If finding social justice is what you value the most then you will want a job in which you can contribute to the wellbeing of the society. If you value spontaneity and fun then you might not find desk jobs that appealing.

While some jobs allow you to have close collaboration with others, others will let you work independently. There are also jobs in which you can work as a freelancer, being a boss of your own. Some jobs will require you to take assistance and direction from others while others will require you to supervise others and be a leader. Think about your values as you consider the different career options.

Look At Your Personality Traits

It is important to consider your personality when making a career decision. You might be an extrovert who enjoys the company of other people and lives on socializing. On the flip side, you might be an introvert who generally prefers time alone and quieter environments. You will need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a competitive or cooperative personality?
  • Does it interest you to help other people, influencing and leading them in tasks or are you the kind who avoids all this pressure?
  • Do you consider yourself a doer who enjoys implementing things and working on them or a thinker who enjoys coming up with ideas and strategies?
  • Are you more interested in the concrete, routine tasks or does artistic, creative work interest you?

List down Your Key Skills

You will want to look at the inventory of all the skills you possess. Listing down your key skillset will help you find a perfect career for you. You should consider both, your hard skills (skills that you have specifically acquired, such as a foreign language or certification in digital marketing) as well as soft skills (includes people and life skills like time management, teamwork and communication fluency). Listing down these skills will give you the confidence in finding the career of choice.

Create a List of Your Strengths

There are some things that you have always been talented in, often from a very young age. Look for the strengths that you have developed over time. For example, some of us are naturally great at science subjects while others are more talented with languages. Some of us have a knack for communicating with people while others are good with their hands. This blog post talks about how you can identify your strengths in more detail (hyperlink to identifying your strengths blog post).

Understand the Training and Education You Need

Listing down your strengths will help you also find out the areas that you need to improve. Check out this other blog post on identifying your weaknesses (hyperlink to identifying your weakness blog post). It is possible that you will need some additional schooling or professional training to polish up your skills so that you can formally pursue your desired career path. For example, you might be a gifted photographer but to get to a professional level, you might need some training from an expert. Do a research on what certifications, licenses and degrees you will need to be able to find employment in the fields that interest you. Think about how much education and training you are able to afford and how much time and money you can invest in this project. All of this will help you make a realistic decision on what profession you can take.

See the Jobs Available In the Field

You will have to conduct a thorough research of the labor market for the career that you are interested in.  This research can include both, local and global surveys, so you can see all of your options in a specific career. This will help you understand your prospects and the kind of jobs that are available in a specific field. If possible, also look at forecast surveys that can give you a health check of a specific career path. This is important before you invest in education because you will not want to spend years on schooling only to find that the career is dying out.

Know Your Priorities First

To be honest, money and/or fame does not have to be the first consideration for you while selecting a career, but if that is what you really are aiming for then it should be a major factor in your decision. For example, if you want to make a lot of money then you will automatically limit your options and you might have to invest a lot in qualifications to get a higher paying job. Some people are interested in professions that might have very limited or fluctuating financial reward so you will have to be very clear on your priorities beforehand.

Decide Your Preferred Place to Live

Some occupations are limited to specific regions. For example, you cannot find many opportunities to work as an agriculturalist or a park ranger if you want to live in a place like Dubai. Likewise, if you want to become an auditor or a stockbroker then you will probably have to live in an urban center. I remember my doctor friends who had to decide where they wanted to live before studying t get a license to practice medicine in that region. On the other hand, many jobs are very independent of any such limitations of location. If you are interested in information technology or enjoy working as a writer, you can work as a freelancer from literally any part of the world!

Be Sure Of Your Career Growth and Advancement

Some careers look good but in reality, offer very little growth. For example, a graphic designer might just become a senior graphic designer. However, if s/he expands his/her knowledge and skills, s/he can become a creative director or lead visualizer. Every job has a different level of upward mobility. If possible, look for opportunities where there is more possibility for promotions or added responsibilities to be plugged with you (and of course, more money!). Failing to look for a career with growth will mean that you risk being stuck in a position with no way out. After some time, even the work that you initially enjoyed will look boring and dead if there is no growth involved. We all need this motivation in life, so look for it before you decide on your career path.

You should consider all of the points above before deciding what you want to do with your life. It is important to not get too emotional over your career choice and not to think to cynically over it. Find a balance where you get to enjoy what you are doing while at the same time making a good living. Know your values and your priorities and be true to yourself. Understand your strengths and areas that require further refining and how all of this will affect your performance. If you follow these rules in all honesty then I am sure that you will be on your way to a great career that you will truly enjoy. Let me know your own tips on finding the right career in the comments section. Make sure you also check out other blog post on Alternative Tactics To Find A Job After Graduating and Easy Ways To Find Work As A Freelancer.

 
This post is part 2 of 7 in the series Job Hunting

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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