11 Steps to Choose the Right Career

Selecting the right career for you may seem like an overwhelming process, but broken down into steps, you will be able to find the profession you truly belong in.

1. Consider your hobbies and interests

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When making an attempt to choose the right career for you, start by thinking and even listing out your hobbies and interests. It is important to at least start out looking for a job in a field that you already have an interest in. For example, if you really enjoy reading books, you might be able to, with the right qualifications and training, establish a career in publishing.

2. Decide what is most important to you in terms of a career

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It is a good idea to choose a career path that lines up with what you want most out of a long-term job and/or field of work. Some choose a career based on the highest paying jobs. Others choose a career based on what they enjoy doing most or the skills they have acquired over time. Even still, others might select a career path based on a certain company or organization they admire and want to work with in the long term.

3. Narrow down your list of career options

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Once you have figured out in general what you might want to do with the rest of your professional life, do what you can to narrow down your possible career options to a certain niche, or even just a few more specific jobs you might want to have. Taking a large list and focusing on exactly where you want to begin searching for a career can make the entire job searching process seem less overwhelming down the road. The more specific your career field options, the easier it will be to learn more about each one.

4. Find someone working in the field you might want to go into

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Locate and hopefully even speak with someone you know who currently works in a career identical to or similar to the one you think you might also want to go into. Let them know you are interested in what they do for a living. They may be able to answer some of your questions or even arrange an appointment where you can shadow them or someone else in the organization they work for.

5. Consider your favorite companies or organizations

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Think about the companies and organizations you support in your daily life, whether that be through a pair of shoes you buy, a brand or a podcast you listen to every week. What about those organizations makes you want to continue to support them? Even if you might not be able to find a career within that company specifically, there are likely qualities about their business’s mission and goals that intrigue you and can drive you to pursue a career with an organization promoting similar values.

6. Create a mission statement

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Writing a mission statement can help guide you in your next career related decision. A mission statement, though it might seem over the top, is really nothing more than a single sentence that describes what you want to accomplish in your life, regardless of your specific career choice. For example, you might want to help reduce hunger in underdeveloped countries. This mission still leaves your specific career choice relatively open, but knowing what you want to accomplish in a career can help narrow your search and motivate you to keep moving forward.

7. Look into the skills and education requirements

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If you are choosing a career you don’t have any experience or training in, you should look closely at the typical requirements and expectations of professionals in the field you are interested in pursuing. For example, you might decide you want to be a librarian. Librarians require a minimum master’s level degree before they are technically qualified to work in information science. This fact may influence whether or not you still want to pursue that career.

8. Do some mock job searches

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Use a website like CareerBuilder to search general jobs in the career fields you are considering. Look carefully at job descriptions to get a better idea of what someone in your field is expected to do from day to day, which types of industries and companies your desired career is often associated with, etcetera.

9. Set some goals, including a time frame

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Goal setting is a vital part of any large decision making in life. Goals are what turn dreams into realities. You can say you want to be an artist, or a dentist, or an astronaut, but you won’t be able to achieve any of those things in a day. You’re going to have to work for those achievements. And to do that, you need to have in place a set of smaller, specific and time sensitive goals that will help you overcome the obstacles you will face along the way and establish yourself in a career you truly want.

1o. Make a plan

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Before you move forward with the career path you have at this point begun to choose and finalize for yourself, make a plan. Don’t just jump into it without a strategy. Know how you are going to earn the skills, education and experience required to qualify for the jobs in the industry you want to work in, if you don’t already have them. Know how and when you are going to begin applying for jobs. Give yourself a time limit, such as five years if you need more time, and figure out each small piece of the puzzle before you begin putting it all together.

11. Start your training

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Once you have a solid grasp on the kind of career and specific job you want to pursue, start your training. This might mean you have to take a few courses to earn a certification, or it might mean you have to earn a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

If you truly believe following this path is what you want, and you are willing to take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary to follow that path, don’t wait any longer than you have to. Start the preparation process sooner rather than later, so you can get your professional life in order.