Whether you’re new to the working world, or you feel it’s the right time for a career change, it can often be difficult to decide which career path is actually right for you.
So, to avoid being stuck in a job that could potentially make you dread going to work, here are some of the best ways to make sure you choose your career wisely:
Explore the fields that you’re passionate about
First things first – you need to work out what you actually like doing.
Once you’ve decided what you’re really passionate about, look at the job opportunities available in that industry, or which utilises those skills.
Your favourite pastimes don’t have to transfer directly into the duties involved in a specific job – but once you’ve listed the things you enjoy doing, you’ll have a strong starting point to work from. And you’ll soon be able to see how various roles incorporate similar elements and require the same attributes.
Whether you’re creative, technically minded, or love being around people, there’ll undoubtedly be a range of career paths to suit you.
Utilise your skills
Once you’ve realised your likes and dislikes, think about your current skills, qualifications, and experience, and look into potential roles that allow you to actually play to your strengths.
If you excel at a particular area of work or expertise, succeeding in a role that involves those particular skills is likely to be an achievable prospect – provided you also work hard to get there.
It’ll also mean that your strong points will be recognised and used to their best potential.
After all, the last thing you want is to be stuck in a career where you’re not able to utilise the talents you’re most proud of.
Make a plan
Your career might not necessarily be a linear path, but it’s still important to plan it out as much as possible.
Once you know what you’d really like to do (even if only roughly), consider the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Becoming an HR Director, for example, will take a lot of time and experience. But if you’re willing to start as an HR Assistant, it becomes a much more realistic goal.
Alternatively, ask yourself if the job or study you’re doing now is actually going to give you the right kind of experience and knowledge to help you achieve your future goals. If not, it might be worth a change.
If you feel your current work and/or educational experience might be holding you back, you could always consider taking a course, returning to education, or volunteering. These steps could help you get a clearer insight on what career path you want to take – not to mention, boost your employability.
Gain some experience
So you need experience to find a job in your chosen industry, but you can’t get one without experience. Now what?
Work experience and internships are a good place to start. You’ll gain practical skills in a working environment, and be able to see if the job is right for you. If you do well and enjoy it, it might even lead to a full-time position, or help you make a few key connections which could kick-start your career.
If it doesn’t work out the way you expected, you’ve still learnt something. And, in many ways, deciding what you don’t want to do actually makes you that bit closer to deciding what you actually do want to do.
Not sure how to go about getting an internship? Read more about what you need to know here.
Prioritise the lifestyle over the job title
Seeing an attractive job title might immediately make you think it’s the perfect career for you – but looks aren’t everything.
Instead, research what the career actually entails and try to get some first-hand advice from experienced people. Focus on the day-to-day tasks the job title would give you, what kind of environment you’ll be working in and, more importantly, the kind of lifestyle you’ll have if that was your full-time career.
For example, you might think becoming a Flight Attendant sounds like something you’d excel at, but would you be equally happy in the lifestyle that comes with the job? Are the hours going to suit you? And what impact would it have on your work/life balance?
High status roles, such as becoming a Lawyer or Doctor, can also seem like a great career choice from the outset, but they aren’t for everyone. It’s important to also be extremely dedicated, and to decide whether you’re able to commit to working long hours and can deal with the pressure that comes with these particular types of careers.
Don’t set your expectations too high
Finally, always try and be realistic when it comes to your career choices. Childhood aspirations are all well and good, but if they’re not attainable, your career won’t be going anywhere.
The same goes for setting your expectations for a new career. Go into it with an open mind, and accept that it might not be perfect in every single way. But even if you don’t like it at first, it might eventually turn out to better than expected, and possibly be a vital step to achieving your career goals.
The last thing you want is for future employers to think you’re a serial job hopper who can’t stay anywhere for longer than a week.
Remember: leaving a job after six months after realising that particular career choice wasn’t right for you is OK. Leaving after a day is not.
Originally published on REED.CO.UK by Amber Rolfe