What do you want to be when you grow up? Here’s how to find a career that fits, at any age.
The question of what you want to be when you grow up never goes away.
Perhaps you chose a major without any idea of what career you could find after graduation, and now you’re stuck at a dead-end job. Or you set out with a specific career in mind, only to discover you hate it. Or you’ve figured out the only way to get to the top is to choose a different ladder.
Regardless of where your career might be at this point, never get complacent about finding the right fit for you. Here are a few steps you can take to get where you want to be, and find out what that is in the first place:
Discover your options
If you’re unhappy with your career, take action. Turn off the TV, stop looking at Facebook and start looking at job listings.
Find out who the major employers are in your city and browse their websites. Read about all the positions, including ones you’ve never heard of, to learn more about what’s available. Talk to people in other departments of your company about their roles and how they got there. Find college alumni with cool-sounding jobs on LinkedIn, and ask if they’d be willing to get coffee and tell you more about their work.
Many obscure jobs are out there; your dream job might be one of them. You’ll never know unless you educate yourself.
Your college degree isn’t a life sentence
It takes guts to change careers, but trying new things is how you find out what you like to do and what you don’t. Your career won’t magically improve on its own. Push yourself. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)
Set small, attainable goals, like applying to one new job a week. Every weekend, write a new cover letter that explains how your skills will apply to a different job. Begin by creating a list of your highly adaptable and transferable skills. There are plenty of articles on the Web on this subject to inspire you.
Start wandering, but don’t stop wondering
Once you’ve landed a different job, don’t stop there. Keep looking inward to determine if it’s right for you. Do you look forward to accomplishing the goals you and your manager have set? Is it a company you believe in? Will your job have a positive impact on others? Instead of looking for the right role, the right salary, the right fit for your resume, ask yourself what’s culturally right.
Never settle for “just OK”
Refuse to settle for what’s convenient; constantly seek more meaningful work. Figuring out what makes you tick is the key to finding the right company culture that closely aligns with your own. You’ll probably be surprised where you find that match — often in a place you never imagined.
There’s so much pressure today to know exactly where you’re heading from the moment you enter college. If you don’t know, nurture your curiosity and let it guide you. You may find yourself in roles that suck the life out of you just to survive, but then again, you could find perfection in a position you never imagined you would enjoy.
Don’t ever settle. You’ll have to compromise many times in your search, but always use those experiences to get to know yourself, your core values and what drives you forward. If you’re always doing the work behind the scenes, someday you will find your sweet spot in a place that fits you just as much as you fit it.
Danny Roberts is a recruiter for Redfin, a technology-powered real estate brokerage that is currently hiring for many roles. In 2000, he participated in MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans, which lead him on a unique and varied career path that helped him discover what his values are and where he needs to be.