How to Choose the Right Career

Finding the Best Fit

Woman thinking about choosing the right career
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Find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life. It's an old saying that may resonate with you if you're in the middle of trying to figure out what to do with your life. If you choose the right career, you will actually like going to work every day? Imagine that! It sounds like a magical antidote to a life of drudgery.

It's no wonder the task of picking an occupation may seem overwhelming.

With thousands of careers to choose from, how do you pick one that will make you feel like you aren't even working? Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it would at least be nice to work at a job you like going to most of the time. To find the right career, choose one that suits your interestsaptitudes, work-related values, and personality type. While you should also consider earnings, job outlook, and duties, nothing contributes more to job satisfaction than matching your occupation to your character traits and motivations. How do you go about doing this?

First, Learn More About Yourself

Your first order of business is to learn as much as you can about yourself. If you think you know all there is to know, what you discover by doing a thorough self assessment may surprise you. You can hire a career development professional, for example, a career counselor or career development facilitator, to help you through this step.

If finances are an issue, don't let that keep you from getting the help you need. Many public libraries, for example, offer career planning services. Ask the librarian at your local library. If yours doesn't provide this service, you may be able to get help from one in another community. The librarian can also direct you to local agencies that offer career counseling.

 There are also free or low-cost career assessments available online. 

If you attended college, you should also contact that institution's career services office. As an alumnus, you may be able to access their services. Your local college or university career office may be open to members of the community. In addition, academic programs that train career counselors often have students work with clients at no or a low cost to gain experience.

Next, Learn About the Occupations on Your List

Your self assessment will provide a list of occupations that are a good fit based on what you learn during that process, but the quest to find the right career doesn't end here. Some of the occupations may be nearly perfect for you, but others may be all wrong. They may be a good match for your personality type, interests, values, and aptitudes, but may be unsuitable in other ways. For example, the job duties may be unappealing, the outlook may be poor, or you may be unwilling to get the required education or training. To make an informed decision, explore the careers on your list.

Read descriptions of the occupations. Ignore your preconceived notions. You may think you know something about a particular career, but unless you have personal experience with it or did prior research, you probably don't have enough information to decide whether you would be satisfied with the day-to-day work involved in it.

If you are still interested in an occupation after getting a job description and learning a bit about the duties, you must learn what you will have to do to prepare to work in it. Unless you are willing to fulfill the educational and training requirements, you should cross it off your list. If you an advanced degree, for example, and you have neither the desire nor the resources to commit to that, it's not a good choice for you. Likewise, neither is a career that requires little training when you have the inclination and ability to earn a college degree, or even a master's degree or doctorate.

Finally, you will be doing yourself a great disservice if you don't look at an occupation's job outlook. Investing time training for a career only to find out there are limited opportunities when you are ready to enter your field of choice can be a waste of time, effort, and money.

After narrowing down your list to just a few choices, do more in-depth research. Conduct informational interviews with people connected to occupations you are seriously considering. They have a perspective on the field that can help you make a more informed decision.