Five Steps to an Informed Career Choice
By Margaret Hansen
Whether you are changing careers or just starting out, here are five things that you can do to move toward your ultimate dream job:
1. Take a Few Career Tests
The Internet has thousands of personality and career tests that will help you determine the types of jobs that you will likely excel in. Some career tests charge a fee, some don't. Take a couple of each to gain more test validity and look for commonalities among the test results. Or, you can visit your local library and check out books that contain tests. Taking personality or career tests is a great place to start and will point your career in the right direction.
2. Keep a Career Research Journal
Note any trends or themes that you are seeing in your test results. Record these notes in a journal and include your reactions. Are you surprised? Why or why not? Did you have a hunch that a test would result this way? Put the journal away and go back to it the next day. Add more notes. Revisit and revise your journal regularly. This is your roadmap to a more fulfilling career.
3. Examine Your Hobbies
What do you do for fun? Why is it fun? What specifically do you like about your hobbies? Even if you don't want to perform that hobby for a living, break it down into pieces that you enjoy. Think of when you've gotten "lost" in an activity, when you didn't notice the time pass. These are the moments to pay attention to. Create a running list of these activities and you'll know what drives you.
4. Talk to Someone
Whether it's a good friend, a family member, or a career counselor, sometimes you just need someone to listen to your ideas and to provide some feedback. Your local state career center office can offer free career support and advice. Hiring a private career counselor is also a helpful option.
5. Set Long and Short-term Goals
Once you've determined the types of jobs that will match your personality best, set up some achievements that you wish to accomplish and include deadline dates. You could start with long-term goals and then list the short term goals that need to happen first. For example, one of your long term goals could be: work as an IT professional at a large employer by January 1, 2015. Your short term goals could then map out what courses you need to take and when. Picture yourself achieving the highest goal on your list and you'll be more likely to achieve it.
Your New Path
Soon, you'll be ready to craft a persuasive cover letter and resume for your new career path. The clearer the picture you have of your likes, dislikes, needs, interests, natural abilities, and goals, the less time you'll spend chasing jobs that don't suit you.