How to choose your career path

If you’re a new graduate, or you’ve found yourself in a career that just isn’t for you, choosing the right career to pursue can be a scary prospect. But don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. There are nearly 5 million new graduates in the EU each year (Eurostat), whilst the average person is now thought to change career at least 3 times during their working life.

Discovering your perfect career doesn’t happen in a heartbeat, and it may take you some time to find the right path. If you’re feeling a bit lost, or not sure whether to pull the trigger on a career you have in mind, these handy tips you should help you in making that all important decision.

Brainstorm your options

Struggling to make a decision and don’t know where to start? One of the best places to begin is by brainstorming your options – making a list of anything that might be relevant to your prospective career.

Make a note of your hard and soft skills, education history, interests and pastimes, and any possible careers you have in mind. By getting them all down on paper, it will be easier to subtract any areas that aren’t quite right, thus targeting a few possible career paths that fit the bill.

Career assessments

The last career assessment you took might have been in high school. Teachers getting you to fill out multiple-choice questions to try and help define the ‘right’ career for you. Whilst at the time, they may have seemed a little too serious, or abstract in their results, a good career assessment can be an invaluable tool in helping you choose the most suitable path.

There are plenty of assessments to choose from – Googling ‘career assessment’ will give you 1.6 billion results, in fact, with both free and paid options available. Whether you decide to part with cash or use a free assessment, you should:

  • Choose one that does what it says it will do (i.e. give clear defined results, allowing you to get more insight into you).
  • Know that the career assessment is a tool to help you understand your likes, dislikes and areas of expertise. You are the one who needs to use the data to choose what you feel is the right career path for you, not the career assessment.

Look for common areas

The chances are that the career you have in mind, the areas where you’re strongest and the current state of the job market, may all be somewhat different. This is to be expected. With that in mind, look for common areas linking them together. Try to look at your interests, individual skills and educational background – and how they fit together, rather than at specific job titles. That way, you’ll be able to see which careers are most suitable, rather than narrowing your scope too early on with a specific job or industry.

Interviews and networking

Sitting down and talking to others is a great way of understanding more about yourself and what path to take.

Networking will help give you intel on industries and specific job titles. You’ll get a feel of what companies and people are like in specific fields and whether or not you’ll find it a good fit.

Sitting down with people and arranging an informal interview is also a great way to get more insight, especially into yourself. Professors, peers and co-workers can all help in giving honest feedback about your strengths and weaknesses, and whether or not you’re suited to the career/s you have in mind.

Mentors

Mentors are a great way of helping you to grow, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a fresh graduate. It could be a line-manager, paid career coach, lecturer or post-graduate. Getting regular advice and support from someone who has been down that road, especially in your prospective career, will help guide you along the right route.

Grow every day

No one’s career trajectory is a perfect upward curve. Speak to any seasoned professional, and you’ll find that they’ve experienced plenty of peaks and troughs along the way. You’ll likely change career again, start from the bottom and take jobs that turn out to be less than desired. But, the important thing is to continue to grow – personally and professionally. Your first, or next, job might not be the next step in your ultimate career, but learning to take something positive away from it will help you develop.

Finding the career that’s right for you is a daunting prospect. But, when you consider that you’ll spend a large proportion of your life at work, taking the time and effort to find it is certainly worth the investment.

And when you’ve found the right career path, be sure to check out Monster Lounge’s Job Portal, for openings that fit your chosen industry.

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