While it will likely change over time, focusing on a certain career path can help inform your decisions about your professional growth as you gain skills and experience. It’s important to reflect on your interests, skills and career goals as you make certain life choices such as which school to apply for, which entry-level job is right for you, whether to get a post-graduate degree or specialized certification and more.
In this article, I will focus on how to identify your key skills and interests, match those qualities to a potential job field and start a career.
1- WRITE DOWN CAREER GOALS
Before selecting a career, start with self-reflection by asking and answering certain questions. Active reflection helps narrows your choices into something more specific.
Consider asking yourself:
- What do I want from my career?
- What are my core values?
- What activities do I most enjoy, professionally or in my free time?
- What are my interests?
- What are my strengths and aptitudes? Soft skills? Hard skills?
- Do I want to specialize in certain technical skills or take on management roles?
Once you answer questions like these (and any others that are important to you), you can better research potential careers paths. It’s also important to revisit your career goals as you grow personally and professionally to ensure your goals remain achievable and aligned with your interests.
2- Set one short term & one long term goal
Once you have narrowed down your options, consider establishing milestones for your career. Research where other people in your field are at five or ten years into their career, and make note of the job titles they have. Decide what title or advancements you want to have at these future points. Then research what you can do to reach those goals. You may need to undergo training programs, take on specific responsibilities or hold prerequisite positions.
By establishing career goals five or ten years in the future, you can plan based on what progress you should expect every year. Schedule time regularly to reflect on your career and goals.
3- Identify your Personality Type
A personality type is a set of personality traits that can be grouped together. There are multiple methods for discovering your personality type, many of which focus on your responses to different situations. Different personality types may naturally gravitate toward different interests and develop different strengths, including careers.
Different tests list common career choices for each personality type. If you take a variety of tests and one or two careers appear across multiple tests, that specific career is likely worth researching.
4- Did you enjoy your previous job/internship?
Your job satisfaction in previous roles can also help guide your career choices. Identify trends in your previous positions, such as focusing on a specific technical skill. Also, review your job history to identify positions that you felt fulfilled in.
5- Educate yourself with the Job requirements – skills, knowledge, interests,etc
Many jobs have specific education requirements for applicants and new hires, such as obtaining a high school diploma, completing a bachelor’s degree program or having a master’s degree. Some positions also require applicants to have their degrees in a specific field related to the position.
Review the education requirements for jobs you are interested in, and apply for jobs that accept your current level of education or research additionally degrees or certifications you may need.
6- Work on gaining expertise in the skills you already possess
Make a list of your current skills, certifications and areas of expertise. Also ask for feedback about your technical, interpersonal and people management skills from coworkers and colleagues. This evaluation can help you find careers that match what you are best at.
7- If you can choose your interest as your career,what will it be?
Depending on your personality, you may have interests that lend themselves to different careers. Examine your hobbies, past volunteer experiences and interests to identify activities or fields you enjoy. While this information is outside of a professional context, creating a list of activities you like can help you focus a career search. For example, you may enjoy a career in cybersecurity if you enjoy logic puzzles, or you may enjoy a traveling sales role if you like meeting new people.
Use this knowledge to apply for short-term positions or volunteer opportunities to explore new career options. This first-hand experience allows you to test your suitability for a career. If you are currently in school or have a job, consider taking a course or certification program that is required for a field that interests you. This experience can help you determine if the career’s skills and content are something you enjoy.
8- Consider your salary needs
Depending on your lifestyle, you may require a certain salary. Find average salaries by job title, company and location on salaries. This can be a good starting point for determining how much money you may have when first starting out, as well as your earning potential after you’ve gained a certain amount of time and experience. While salary certainly does not equal an engaging, satisfying job, it is an important factor to consider when mapping out your career path.