When you are trying to choose a career, it is vital to look carefully at yourself – at your interests, your abilities, your talents, your aptitudes, your level of ambition, and your dreams of the future. We often don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do, so part of choosing an appropriate career will entail getting to really know yourself.
Using Career Aptitude Tests
There are a lot of different ways to learn about yourself and what career might best suit you. You can start by taking free aptitude tests on the internet. There are a huge number of free tests to choose from that will test various aspects of your thinking processes and ability. You can complete the tests and use the results to evaluate where your talents lie, what things you may need to work on, and what test subjects really interest you. If the thought of taking a numerical reasoning test makes you cringe, chances are you should avoid any careers with mathematics as a large portion of the work. Sites like CareerFitter.com, 123Test.com, and Whatcareerisrightforme.com offer free tests that help you learn about everything from your personality to your logic skills. Assessment.com offers the MAPP (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) test, which can give you insights into which general career path best suits you. Go to 16Personalities.com to take a test that will analyze your personality in a way the is eerily accurate and will help you to see what type of career path would suit your personality best. My Next Move O*Net Interests Profiler is sponsored by the US Department of Labor and will give you insights into what types of careers might fit you.
Try the Free Tests
There are plenty of free tests that will ask you various questions designed to determine your personality type and use that information to point out careers that might fit your personality. This can give you ideas for careers that you may not have thought of before.
Another way to learn more about your inclination sis to look at your hobbies. Is every one of your hobbies an outdoor activity? If so, you may want to look into careers that allow you to be outside at least part of the time. If your hobbies are all about computers, you may want to look in that direction for your career. You may run into a problem if you have wildly diverse hobbies and interests, however, but realistically, that just says that you would probably be good at more than one thing.
Figure out more about Yourself
Look at your school marks to see what subjects you did the best in. That will usually tell you where you made the most effort, giving you a hint as to where your interests lie. If your favorite subject was math, you may want to look at careers that involve a lot of mathematical skill. You may even want to talk to your teachers to see what they might have to say about your skills and inclinations. They may have insights into your personality that you do not, and so may have valuable advice or observations to offer.
Talk to your family and friends about your career options. Family members have known you a long time, and may have good observations on what kinds of jobs you are suited for. Not only will they be able to give you good insights into yourself, they may know of career opportunities that you had not thought of. Make use of all the contacts you have within your own circle, and ask family and friends to guide you towards people who may be able to give you advice. This is a stage of your life where you will want to talk to as many people as possible about your plans and aspirations, so as to gather as much information and knowledge as you possibly can. You want to make an informed decision, and that means learning as much as is humanly possible before you make your final choice.
Step 2: How to Proceed
Once you have determined what general direction you want to go in, you can start researching jobs in that particular field. If you want to be an engineer, you will need to learn about all the different types of engineering careers there are so that you can see what aspects of engineering interest you the most and would give you the most fulfilling career. If you are interested in a medical career, there are dozens of different types of jobs in the medical field. You will have to do some looking to see what branch of medicine sounds best to you and what job you would be most interested in doing. Be sure to look at many different jobs, so that when you finally settle on one, it is not because you didn’t know the one you really wanted even existed.
Now that you have narrowed down your choices and have settled on a somewhat specific type of career, you can begin to imagine the job and what it would feel like to do that job for years on end. Research the job on the internet, maybe even find a book about it. Learn about the salary it pays, the opportunities for advancement that might be involved, and where you might have to live to enter that particular field. Learn about colleges and universities that offer training in that career, and figure out what your education might cost and where you would have to go to get it. Check on the prerequisites for that course path – have you got the necessary credits and secondary education courses to enter the course path you want? Do your research carefully and realistically – if your chosen career involves many thousands of dollars in student loans but the end job pays very little, you may need to work part time throughout your schooling years in order to make it work, or you may want to reconsider your choice.
Talk to People in your Career Choices
Your next step is to talk to people who are doing the job you want. You may need to do that through emails or other long-distance forms of communication, but do make the effort to talk to people who already have your dream job. Ask them about the downsides to the job. Are the hours extremely long? Is it difficult to get a job in that field? Find out about the predicted future of the job. You may not want to go into a career that is predicted to be obsolete in the near future due to automation or new ways of doing things. The world is changing fast, and jobs are changing with it, so make sure that the career you choose will be viable for years in the future.
Asking permission to shadow someone who is doing your dream job can give you some very valuable insights into the job. You can see firsthand what the job entails and can judge for yourself whether you would be happy to do that for years or not. In a lot of places, you may have to sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement before being allowed into the work space. This would be true in the field of medicine, where patient confidentiality is extremely important, but it may also be necessary in many other areas, from banking to the music industry. Shadowing can give you an accurate picture of what a certain career would be like, giving you the ability to truly see whether it is something you want to pursue or if it would be better for you to go in a different direction.
Internships are a good way to get some on-the-job experience, but they typically don’t pay very well, if at all. If you get a chance for an internship, you will need a way to support yourself through the experience while essentially working full-time for little or nothing. In a sense, internships discriminate against those who are not able to afford to work for free, which deprives companies of the opportunity to really pick the best and the brightest because many potential employees could not participate in an internship due to financial constraints. It would probably benefit any company that can afford it to pay interns well, since they would then be able to truly have their pick of the people who would most benefit the company.
Always Be open to New Idea’s
If, after you have gone through all these steps and are still not positive what you want to do, don’t beat yourself up about it. Many people do not have an overriding passion for one particular thing, and could do well at, and enjoy, many different careers. Don’t sweat it – you may be good at and enjoy more than one thing, so go with the flow and try whatever appeals to you most. It may turn out to be a lifelong career, or a stop-gap measure until you find something you like better. It is no longer unusual for people to change careers several times in the course of their working lives, so learning to adapt to changing circumstances is a skill you should master, just in case.