How to Decide on a Career (Even If You Don’t Know What You Want)
Editor’s note: Times have changed since this was first published! This post was geared to candidates when our economy was considered a “recruiter’s market” - job seekers were abundant, work was scarce. Now, Brazen and the world has shifted: the economy has cranked up, jobs are being filled rapidly, top talent is snapped up like fish in a barrel. Our blog now focuses on how to help recruiters and HR managers find the best candidates for open positions. That is our mission with our chat platform. Recruiters, we think this article is a great one to share with your potential candidates who are still in-between careers, struggling to decide where to put their energies, or job seekers who don’t recognize their own soft skills and how to put them together in a career. Take a look, and tell us what else you think your candidates need to know in the comments! Choosing the right career is tricky. Economist Neil Howe estimates that only five percent of people find a good career match on the first try. And even beyond this chilling stat, there’s so much external pressure to land the perfect job, follow your passion and be super successful by the end of your 20s. No wonder most people break into a cold sweat when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But deciding on a career can be simplified into three basic problems. Conquer these, and you’ll dramatically up your chances of finding the job that’s right for you.
Problem #1: You don’t have enough informationThere are literally thousands of careers out there—some of which could be at the perfect junction of what you’re good at, what you love, and what’s in demand. It’s amazing how many successful people didn’t know their dream job even existed when they were younger. To combat this problem, try this: devote one hour every day for a week (or heck, a month!) on pure research. Check out career exploration sites, top job lists, your favorite blogs or even a new section of the newspaper. Your mission? Write down any and every job that catches your eye. This minimal routine will skyrocket your list of career ideas.
Problem #2: You don’t know what you wantThere are many great jobs in the world. But there are fewer great jobs that are right for you. Making a good connection between yourself (your values, interests, personality, etc.) and a career can be tough. For some people, personality tests to discover if you’re an introvert or extrovert, or heart-to-hearts with a career counselor can jumpstart this stage. But if you’re short on time, money or patience, assess career ideas with this practical checklist:
- Does this career sound interesting?
- Does this career involve work that you could be good at?
- Does this career fulfill your essential needs?
- Does the world need this career?
Problem #3: You can’t make a decisionYou’re 99.99 percent guaranteed to find multiple career choices where you can shine. In this situation, it’s easy to fall into a perpetual motion machine of angst and second-guessing. What if you don’t pick the right career? But here’s the secret: don’t worry about choosing the best option; choose any (well-researched and practical) option. “Just pick one thing to do,” suggests Brazen Careerist founder Penelope Trunk. “And if that doesn’t work, then pick another. Making a choice and trying it is an important career skill.” So be brave and take action—and you’ll be that much closer to finding a job you love. Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a site that helps people discover strong careers and connect with the right education to achieve their goals. Follow her on Pinterest.
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