Determining a career path can feel like a daunting task. Whatever stage of life you’re in, whether you’re just graduating from high school or college or you’re ready for a different career path after years elsewhere, trying to figure out the next step to take involves an in-depth evaluation of yourself and your needs.
Beyond that, you need to consider many other factors when considering a new career, such as pay and future opportunities.
If you are looking for a new career path, this article can help you walk through the steps to make the right decision. Starting with learning about doing a self-assessment and then figuring out how to evaluate any other, you can find out how you can get on the right job path by following the guidelines below. Wherever it takes you, this is your personal career path that has to suit your abilities, needs, values and personality.
What is a Self-Assessment?
A self-assessment is a way you can determine the right path to take. This exercise is applicable to nearly any life situation, but is especially helpful in deciding on a career path. By doing a self-assessment, you can evaluate everything that you consider to be important in that particular situation and then start to weigh the pros and cons based on your own personal abilities and desires. This is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers in a self-assessment. Rather, the goal is to uncover your own personal preferences, goals and ideals.
While you could read advice articles and find out the top paying professions around the world, none of that information might be directly relevant to you, specifically. Each individual person is unique, with unique needs, desires, abilities and goals. A self-assessment is a way to look at the overall picture of you as a unique, individual person and then to make an educated decision to move forward from there.
A self-assessment can take the form of an official questionnaire aimed at uncovering your personality, your aptitude or your passions. There are countless variations of these tests that you could take to get some ideas that will pose interesting questions to make you consider various scenarios and opportunities. Alternatively, your self-assessment could simply be your own handwritten list of values, attributes, skills, goals and desires. Whatever way helps you to start making a decision is the best form of self-assessment for you.
Do a Self-Assessment
To do a self-assessment, you need to first be ready to be very honest with yourself about yourself. You need to try to be as objective as possible while evaluating your strengths, weaknesses, skills, interests, and goals. This task will make you truly look at yourself as a potential employee or employer and to figure out where you can realistically succeed, but it is 100 percent up to you to be honest and to appropriately evaluate yourself.
First, analyze your values to decide what is important to you in terms of status and achievement. Is a career where you can be in the spotlight and gain power important? Then, look at your interests to determine what you like to spend time doing. Your hobbies and passions tell you a lot about yourself and might be shielding a hidden talent that you could apply toward a new career. A personality test might be helpful here since few people are fully in-tune with their personalities.
Finally, evaluate your skills set. Do not forget to look at skills you might not have applied to a job before but that you still have. Those skills you have developed through a beloved hobby that you are really good at could potentially turn into a profession. Not having the education or previous work experience using a specific skill does not negate its value if you have honed it on your own time.
Consider what you are good at, what you care about most and what you value in the way you work to create a list of characteristics that you want to find in a career. That list will guide you toward the right job path for you.
Consider Other Factors
While we would all love to be able to choose a career strictly based on our values, strengths, weaknesses or dreams, there is usually a compromise to be made to ensure a career path also suits our actual needs. We need to pay bills, to pay for a home and to support a family. So, oftentimes, that self-assessment is the tool to use for your ideal situation and then you can consider other factors that might affect your actual, realistic choices for a career path.
A vital factor to consider obviously includes pay. You need to evaluate your current income and expenses and consider alternatives. Could you earn less doing a job you love and still live a financially comfortable life or do you need more pay to cover your current costs?
Could you look at your current expenses and minimize them to reduce your overall costs and therefore worry less about your wages? All of these are important considerations for pay that will weigh on your final decision.
Another important consideration includes your long-term goals. Family, location, further education and promotion potential are all considerations to take into account as you evaluate the possibility of a new job. Weigh these factors with your self-assessment results to try to find the right job for you.
Choose the Right Job Path for You
Choosing a career can be tough because you might not really know if you want that career path until you try it. If you are lucky enough to have experience in a different career, perhaps as a volunteer or an intern or if you were exposed to that job opportunity through family or peers, then you might have a better idea of the long-term potential before you dive in. However, most people simply need to try it out for themselves. You won’t really know if that job is right for you until you try it. Remember to give it time, too; many employees take a long time to feel comfortable, confident and happy in a new job, so have patience.
The self-assessment and your list of important factors will help guide you. These are important for getting a handle on your potential options. But, at the end of the day, you need to make the decision and go through with it.
One final piece of advice not to focus just on a job title. Give yourself flexibility in getting into a new career and allow for some creativity in how you might eventually achieve your long-term career goals. Going down a new path might mean starting at the bottom and working your way up, which is a great way to learn even more about that career and to better appreciate its long-term potential for you.