How to Choose the Right Career

It’s said that if you enjoy your job, you won’t have to work a day in your life. Choosing a career that is well suited to your skills, enjoyable and allows for progression is no small undertaking and you can easily feel bamboozled with all of the options.

It is likely that your career plans will continue long after you begin your first job. Whether you progress in one field or change your plans as the years pass, it is possible to take a pragmatic approach to choosing the right career. As your skills and knowledge develop, so too will your career plans and to help you achieve the goals that you set for yourself, the following guide offers advice on how to choose the right career for you.

Understand Yourself

It may seem that knowing yourself is a natural consideration and that this is the most simple step to choosing the right career for you. However, in order to be sure that your vocation is well suited, you need to thoroughly know yourself. Try to make considerations relating to:

  • What your strongest skills are
  • Know what achievement means to you – Is it financial gain? Is it rank or promotion? Is it social standing? Is it overcoming obstacles or perhaps challenging yourself to take on new skills?
  • Set out your weaknesses and determine whether they can be overcome by learning new skills or whether you need professional assistance.
  • Make a list of your qualifications and vocational achievements.

Consider what other responsibilities you have that might impact on your work life. For example, having children might inhibit your ability to work certain shifts. Alternatively, if you partake in certain sports, you may not be able to carry out certain duties if there is a risk of injury.

One of the most secure ways of finding the right career for you is to fully understand yourself. By doing this, you will eliminate disappointments and enhance the possibility of tailoring your job around your likes and dislikes as well as other responsibilities.

Plan your Career Journey

Another surefire way to choose the right career for you is to think beyond the immediate job. Instead, look at your career from a wider perspective and imagine the next five to ten years. Decide what level you hope to be at, how much you hope to earn and the role that you aim to be in within these timeframes and you will be better placed to position yourself on the right path.

For example, if you aim to be in a trainer or managerial role within 5 years, acknowledge that you may start at a lower level and will spend some time learning and developing yourself in order to be better suited to a more senior position within a few years. Don’t be disheartened that you might not be able to enter your career and your desired level immediately and consider your entry level position to be an investment in your future.

Be Flexible – Explore your Options

When you are trying to decide what career is right for you, try to be flexible and consider alternative options that match your skills successfully. Research the job market thoroughly and consider which career path suits your skills, preferences and qualifications. You may be surprised at how enthusiastic you feel about a potential job match that you’d never previously considered.

Take time to review the local and national vacancies that suit your achievements. You may find that alternative similar options pop up regularly and this is likely to help you consider an alternative path. You are also sure to identify which roles are expanding and which seem to be declining by reviewing the market with an open mind.

When you are reviewing the job market, be aware that there are three job sectors:

  • Private – This includes sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.
  • Public – The public sector includes all governments and the chartered bodies or agencies that are connected to them such as police, the armed forces and national health services.
  • Not-for-profit – Sometimes, this sector is referred to as the ‘third sector’ and this includes voluntary jobs and charities.

List the Pros and Cons of Each Suitable Job

Once you have evaluated your skills and qualifications and made a list of around five suitable jobs, consider how happy you might be in that role. Create a shortlist of suitable jobs and then consider the pros and cons of each role. This will help you further hone in on the best career for you.

When considering the advantages and disadvantages of each of the jobs on your list, consider the following:

  • The working hours that will be necessary
  • The potential for progression and promotion
  • Entry requirements
  • The salary and benefits package that is offered
  • Related jobs
  • The training that you will need to complete
  • Whether the career offers ongoing training and what your personal development potential will be.
  • The longevity of the career (has it been an established role, is it likely to remain relevant for several decades?)
  • Can you work from your current location or will you need to move?
  • Will the career allow for flexibility should your personal circumstances change?

It is also wise to consider what type of employer will be best suited to your personality. Some people want to work for a multinational corporation, whereas others prefer a small family run firm within the local area. Consider what your career choice allows for and what type of employers are available to you.

Set Realistic Goals

Once you have reviewed your preferences and researched the job market, you will be in a better position to commit to realistic goals and set your aspirations. Again, be realistic and be prepared to work hard for your ultimate ambition. Recognise that your ideal career may involve a journey and factor this in.

Set an immediate goal such as achieving an interview with your ideal employer. Set a goal for a year which might be having completed a career relevant course or qualification. Then plan a more long term goal for five years. Perhaps consider seniority, earnings and work-life balance for this point. After five years, you can begin to try to mould your career around your lifestyle choices.

This might mean that you want to work different hours, relocate, enjoy a more varied position or take on extra responsibility. Once you have gained experience within your field, you will be in a stronger position to negotiate your career and working life to better suits your preferences.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Even once you have evaluated all of the points above, there are some questions that you might ask yourself to help define the best choice for you. The questions below aim to help you finetune your decision and reaffirm your decisions:

  • Will I continue to enjoy this job?
  • Will the job be varied enough to maintain my interest?
  • Does this career meet most of the preferences that I outlined?
  • Do I have the necessary entry requirements or qualifications?
  • Do I approve of the employer?
  • Does the employer fit my morals and values?
  • Do I need to consider any geographical issues?
  • Does this career pay what I need it to?
  • Is there career progression?