It all starts when you are young and in school, and you were asked – ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Bright-eyed and full of enthusiasm, you probably answered this question without hesitation. You knew exactly what you wanted. Then years have passed, seasons changed, and you realize that you are not so confident with your career choices anymore.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate, or starting a new job, or wanted to shift to a new career landscape – there is much to consider.
What am I qualified to do? What is it that I really want to do? Should I ditch my current job?
These questions should be easy, right? We wish it was that simple, unfortunately, in our modern world, it’s bound to be a little bit complicated. With so many options and decisions, we can sometimes find ourselves in a pit of overwhelming questions that make it difficult find a starting point.
An excellent first step is to assess yourself and gain some self awareness, as doing so helps break down this major question into bite-sized pieces to get you unstuck. We are offering you these 5 steps to help you get closer to where you want to be.
5-Step Process in Choosing a Career Path
1. Know Thyself!
Get a pen and paper and list ALL of your strengths and weaknesses. Think about what you’re good at, what things you enjoy, what skills you possess and what your interests are… and be honest! No one is going to see this list other than you.
You can also take online career and personality tests to help you find out what career choices are best suited for you based on your personal characteristics.
A career test isn’t really a “test” — it’s more of an assessment allowing you to see how well you might do in certain careers based on your choices to questions pertaining to four areas: interests, skills, values, and personality traits. There are no wrong or right answers and it is a great tool to reveal hidden talents, abilities, and passions.
Personality tests are composed of introspective-type questions designed to help you find out your personality type. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one such test that can offer insights about different personalities; introvert vs extrovert, judging vs thinking types. This will give you a better perspective on the kind of work environment that will make you happier and more productive.
2. The List
Make a list of the information you have gathered from these tests so you can explore your career options. You should be able to weed out suggested career choices that do not interest you. Go through each one, asking yourself questions like:
- Does this appeal to me?
- Am I willing to fulfill the requirements needed?
- Do I have the skills necessary to succeed?
- What am I willing to do to be successful?
Get rid of everything with non-negotiable duties (things that you just will not do) by now, you should have about two that made it to your shortlist.
When you have narrowed your choices, you can start in-depth research. You can reach out to friends or relatives who are in that occupation and arrange for a tête-à-tête so you can get first-hand knowledge about the job.
At this point, you have shortened your list some more based on the type of profession that you strongly feel will bring the most satisfaction.
3. Action Plan
Now for the crunch.
You have finally gotten your search narrowed to just one. So, ask yourself – how do I get there? How do I get from point A to B, how do I create that road-map to get where I want to be?
Here’s what you should do: Create short and long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals that are achievable in the next 12 months, whereas long-term goals can be achieved in one to five years. Line up those goals with concrete markers employing a concept similar to a four-phase project:
- Knowing your strengths and qualities
- Visualize where you want to be within a given time frame
- Plan implementation
- Establishing credibility
Break down all the steps needed to reach each one; these should include projected constraints that could get in the way and the means to overcome them.
4. Internship? Why not!
If you have the latitude when it comes to compensation, an internship could be a real eye-opener simply because it provides you hands-on experience to test a career. It provides an excellent prospect to lay the foundation of your chosen profession, this is especially true if you have no prior work experience.
Working as an intern will let you learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses and how to deal with them. You will need to be open feedback from those who are already established in that field. This is the kind of feedback you should not ignore, as it is an important way for you to grow and build your skills and knowledge.
Being an intern also gives you a unique position to know how a particular job feels firsthand. You get to experience whether the work conditions are to your preference and you get valuable exposure to people in the workplace.
Importantly, if things don’t go well or you discover that it is the wrong career for you, your internship experience can add extra weight to your resume, help establish meaningful work connections and build your professional network.
5. Why Do I Need a Career Coach/Mentor?
Did you know that most CEOs attribute their achievement to having effective mentors? The right coach/mentor will give you valuable guidance and help boost your career. These are the people who already have the professional experience, are experts in their field and particularly great at giving helpful advice.
Having the encouragement and support of an experienced and trusted coach/mentor can never be underestimated. Provided that you meet your coach/mentor halfway, you can expect a broad range of benefits from this work-relationship:
- Higher competency and skill
- More confidence in your ability to execute a task
- Prepares you to be accepting of any constructive feedback from a reliable source
- Expand network of contacts
- Enhance communication skills
- Ease of adapting to company culture
- A career coach/mentor’s input is highly valuable, and their sharing of experiences help you avoid making some of the mistakes they have made in the past.
These are the steps that you can take by yourself but if you feel a need for further help in making the right choice, a solid, reputable career coach can be just what you need. You can reach out to the experts at The Bauke Group as it is crucial that you choose a career that suits you best. It would be unfortunate if you are in the wrong line of work as this could mean dissatisfaction in both professional and personal life.
The road to finding a career that is right for you can be a long and winding one that is peppered with challenges. It is, however, these experiences that will press and excite you to be the best that you can be and enjoy a career worth keeping.