Your career has a big impact on your future. Choosing the right career makes you feel valued, successful & fulfilled. It will shape your identity, personal fulfilment, lifestyle, income, family and retirement.
Choosing a career is not easy and must be carefully thought through. Don’t let the opinions or expectations of others sway your decision making.
Ultimately, your career choice is solely yours. On average, we spend around one-third of our lives at work. So it’s important to reflect on the type of career, job, and industry that we would want to spend such a huge amount of time in. Wondering which long-term career you may be most suited to? Read on to learn some of the important factors to consider when choosing a career.
Interests, Values & Personality
Why are Interests important in choosing a career?
Your interests – the activities you enjoy doing – can be an excellent starting point for choosing a career. You should be able to envision yourself spending a lot of time doing the tasks associated with your career, so starting with your hobbies and interests can help you choose a career path that is fun for you.
To figure out your interests, ask:
- What sports and pastimes do I enjoy in my spare time?
- What topics do you love to teach or talk about with others?
- What do you spend your time and money on
- What activities would I miss the most if I could no longer do them?
- Ultimately, what makes you happy?
Why are Values important in choosing a career
Our Values help us live with direction and purpose – like a guiding compass. Intrinsic career values are intangible motivators that make people love their careers. Some people seek careers where they can make an impact or contribute to a social cause, while others look for employers who embody their core beliefs. If you value family and personal time, you may look for a career path that allows you to have a strong work life balance. Consider a job that pays well if you value financial security
Why is Personality important in choosing a career
One of the most valuable things to consider is the nature of your personality. Someone who is extroverted enjoys interacting with others and finds job satisfaction in roles that require a lot of socialising. Extroverts perform well in areas such as sales, medicine, healthcare, and customer service. On the contrary, those who are more introverted usually prefer to work alone or in smaller groups. Careers in writing and editing, software engineering, and paralegal are mostly populated by introverts.
A personality test such as the enneagram personality test can help you understand who you are, how you work, and the careers that suit your temperament. The test provides a breakdown of your strengths, weaknesses, and ideal working conditions. While not an absolute science, the tests can be remarkably accurate. You can then choose a career based on the many options provided.
Skills & Attributes
Right now, you already possess skills that can help you succeed in the future. Think about your hard skills and soft skills.
- Hard skills – skills you’ve acquired through study, such as culinary arts or computer programming.
- Soft skills – the people and life skills you possess, including empathy, teamwork, problem-solving and time management.
Remember, skills can be developed and new skills can be learned at any stage of life, so don’t let a lack of skills put you off a certain career path. Let the existing skills you have guide you. Whether you require further skill development or not will be the next challenge.
Want to make a bigger impact in your career?
Preferences & Lifestyle
Consider your preferences when choosing a career. For example, do you prefer working alone or as a team? Do you like working outdoors or indoors? Do you want a job with a lot of travel or one you can do from home?
Your lifestyle choices will also play a role in your decision. People with young children might need a job that offers flexible working hours or provides child care. Alternatively, if you’re planning on starting a family soon, you might want to consider a career that provides good maternity/paternity leave and childcare options.
Change is constant. You are likely to change as your progress through life and gain new perspectives. Your lifestyle may also be affected when making these decisions. You might be happy to work long hours and travel extensively in your 20’s but as you start to settle down with family and have children, being away for long periods with work may be less attractive. Where possible try to have your lifestyle and career path align.
Education & Training
Now that you have evaluated yourself – your potential and your passions – it is time to look at the cold, hard facts. One of the things to consider is the educational path you have chosen, and how it will impact your chances.
Every role has educational requirements. While some have strict requirements, such as law and medicine, others are more open and focus more on transferable skills than your degree. For example, careers in business, management, and finance have more flexible educational demands.
Depending on your level of education,, you may or may not be able to apply for the careers you’ve been considering. If you aren’t, then you can go back to study and acquire the necessary qualifications. The good news is that there are increasingly greater and more flexible study options available.
If that is not an option due to the costs of schooling or other constraints, you may have to look away from the job you had in mind and consider others. The good thing is your personality prepares you for a wide range of things, so it is near impossible that you won’t have the education or training for any of them.
A great way to get the right training is with an internship. An internship can give you the opportunity to prove you can excel at a job, even though your educational requirements don’t match.
The Job Market & Future Prospects
Considering the job market and prospects when choosing a career is essential, as you want to ensure that opportunities will be available once you’ve qualified.
Every year, countries release a list of the best jobs or most in-demand careers. Why do they make a new list every year? Because the job market is constantly changing.
For example, there was a time when people everywhere began to learn about computers, which was a huge career opportunity. However, while these jobs still exist, computers are becoming more advanced, and some roles won’t be around in the future.
Some industries are growing rapidly, such as wireless technology, artificial intelligence and renewable energy, so it’s worth considering which area offers the most security.
Exercise caution when making career decisions based on the jobs market though. Defining a career on the basis of the earlier factors discussed here is more important.
Therefore, an excellent way to utilise this is to first go through the other factors, make a list of career options, and see what the job market has to offer along these lines.
Let’s say, for example; you have narrowed down your career choices to finance and accounting. Based on your personality test, experiences, and values, etc., you have established that you are likely to excel at either of them. You can then research what job in these fields is most in-demand and will pay you a higher salary.
There are many other factors to consider when choosing a career, but they will likely fall under one of these broad topics. There is no universal way to find the perfect job, but these elements will give you the highest chance of finding job satisfaction.
If you end up on a career path you don’t like, learn from there, grow and refine your strategy. All experiences are valuable – including ones that we get wrong – once we learn from them!