It can be overwhelming trying to choose a career. Even assuming that you have some idea of what you might want to do, there are just so many career paths out there. Who can keep track of them all or understand them?
Not me – who works in the career space full time, and certainly not you, who has better things to do.
Luckily, there are better ways to figure out what you want to do by homing in on your exact right job using some pretty brilliant and mind blowing resources that are available to you right now, for free.
I’m going to walk you through how to find a career that is just right for you using these resources – even if you don’t have a great idea of what you want to do yet.
Let’s get started using a simple career exercise.
A Simple Career Exercise To Choose A Career Path
If you’re totally lost right now and you’re not sure if you want to become an architect or go to ministry school, this exercise probably won’t help you. It’s not the place to start if you don’t have a general idea. It is for people who have a bit more focus, but need a bit more still.
For example, lets say you have an MBA and you know you want to use it, but you don’t really know how, or you’re wondering if getting an MBA is going to really help you do what you want to do.
You can do this exercise.
First, choose 10 jobs you feel excited about that meet your minimum requirements,
in this case an MBA.
The goal is to find those 10 or so jobs that feel really exciting and that all require an MBA.
There are many places you can look, and you’re probably familiar with a lot of them.
One of the top career sites in the world, and a great place to research jobs and companies.
Indeed may be the leading job board today, and has thousands of new jobs added to it every week. You can set up an advanced search with many different criteria including salary, location and keywords.
Specialized Job Boards:
You may also search for other job boards if your keyword is something specialized instead of “MBA.” If you’re looking to get a job as a sommelier, for example, there are likely places where those jobs are posted.
Choosing A Career Path: What Excites You?
Now that you’ve found some listings, it’s time to find jobs that really excite you. Go through and see which ones really excite you. Take your time.
Found some? Good.
Now, what is it about them that gets you fired up?
Is it the creativity?
The actual function?
Decide what it is that you like about the position because it is those elements that you are going to be looking for in your actual job. Make a list.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have had clients express their disbelief at how much of this list they actually got when they finally landed their job, but it’s because when you’re clear what you’re looking for, you can actually get it.
There’s no way to get it when you don’t know what you want.
Choosing A Career Path: Get More Specific
Here’s when things really start to get fun!
They also start to get a little harder. You’re going to have to get a little creative and think a little harder about what your dream job actually is.
Armed with your list of dream job features from above, start to take some guesses about job titles, or, if you have some friends or people in your network with knowledge of the industry you’re interested in, you could ask them about what they think:
“Hey Joan, I’m thinking about getting my MBA, and I was hoping you could help point me in the right direction and help me see if I’m on the right track. I really like solving problems and I like the concept of “failing fast.” I like working with people and I love seeing my work get completed. Do you think there’s anything I could do in the business world that would suit me?”
They might come back to you with a few ideas.
Once you have some titles to plug in, you can go to one of my favorite research tools:
Payscale has immense power. I’ll show you.
Not only can you research what you should be paid in your current job or a future position, but you can research job titles and career paths for tons of different jobs and careers out there.
For example, lets say that you decided you wanted to research “senior business analyst” based on your friend’s recommendations.
Here’s what it would tell you.
First, you can see what you can expect to make in this field.
Next, you get a chart that shows the various career paths for someone entering the field – where they came from (how they got there) and where they go to, which is very valuable information if you’re thinking about getting into the field and what it might mean for your career.
You can also find the top skills you’ll need:
How the pay is expected to improve (or not) by experience:
Satisfaction level of people in this career:
As you can see, Payscale gives you tons of information on any career path you might think of, including a detailed description of what that career path is like and what the day-to-day duties are like, so you can get some sense of whether the career path is for you.
One More Career Resource
Once you have landed on a path that seems like a good fit, the last resource is Onetonline.
Onet is a bit unwieldy. It contains almost 1000 careers and their descriptions and attempts to put them in a taxonomy, so it shows their relationship to one another, not unlike Payscale.
I like it though because it attempts to give a job outlook which is very useful info.
It also lists jobs by industry and has interest and ability tests, so you can be matched to creative jobs, or jobs for people with particular interests.
The most difficult thing about this site is the navigation, but the information on it is good!
Looking for A Career For You
It’s time for you to do this exercise. I would love to know if you find this helpful, and if you do the exercise, what your outcome is. Let me know if the comments below!