How to decide on a career

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of work, or you’re just reassessing your career for the new year, setting your sights on a single career path can be a daunting prospect. If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, the fear that you’re going to make the wrong decision can make it difficult to settle in a role or a company or get that important training that will put you in the right direction.

The average person will have 11 different jobs, spread across 3 different careers. Hardly anyone gets it right first time, so here are our 4 tips for how to tackle that question: How do I decide what career to have?

1. What do you enjoy currently?

Whether that’s your favourite subjects in school, or just the aspects of your current role you like best, identify the things you like best and use that information to inform your choice. If you like maths, or the more detailed and numerical parts of your job you may be more suited to a career in accounts or payroll, for example.  If you prefer more physical work, try a more physical career option, like warehousing or engineering work.

Don’t just go with what you’re best at though – if you don’t really enjoy doing something, you’ll never be motivated enough by it to truly excel and be successful at it.

2. What motivates you?

We all have different things that drive us to do well in our jobs.  For successful sales people in target driven jobs, this is often money and having the finer things in life. In healthcare environments or in the charitable sector, people get their energy from knowing the work they do is having a positive impact on people’s lives.

3. What sort of person are you?

Are you an extroverted people person, that thrives on being around other people? Are you highly organised or do you play things by ear?  Are you a creative thinker, or do you prefer to deal with things you can see and touch?  All of these things will affect what you will enjoy in your job.  Someone who is more introverted is less likely to enjoy a job dealing constantly with people like retail or reception work. Someone who likes spontaneity over structure will appreciate a role that’s more fast-paced like sales, compared to someone who likes more of a routine who would better suit and accounts or administration position. A creative person may excel in fields like Marketing and PR, but feel a bit stifled or restricted in more technical jobs.  Try taking a personality test online like the Myers-Briggs to gauge what sort of work you might be more suited to – it may shed some light on what jobs you ought to rule out

4. Be realistic

No-one can come straight out of education, or a totally different environment, and expect to go straight to the top of their field.  Not only that, but many careers will have strict training requirements – it can be a hard slog to get to where you want to be.  Be prepared that you won’t always be able to do the job you want straight away, so make sure the route to get there suits you as well.  If you get too disheartened by the journey, you’ll likely end up giving up before reaching the career goals you wanted (or they might turn out to be nothing like you expected in the first place!). If the idea of further study or other positions on the career ladder put you off, you may want to reconsider your options.

There are so many career options out there nowadays that it can get a little overwhelming.  But taking a bit of time to reflect and consider your options, you’ll find yourself bound for a much more rewarding career in the long run.