Has “I don’t know what career I want to pursue!” been echoing in your mind lately? While not knowing what career to pursue may feel intimidating, it is one that everyone has experienced at some point in their lives.
Careers are long and winding roads, and with so many possibilities, identifying the right one for you can be challenging. In addition, even after you’ve chosen a career path to follow, you may still feel something is missing. You may think to yourself, “I am in this field, but I don’t know what job I want” and it can be tiring. But, you’ll be able to figure out soon enough what is you want to do.
You can pursue whatever career you find the most interesting if you are willing to devote the right amount of time and effort. With that said, you still need to figure out what path you want to take.
This article will share six tips to help you figure out what career you may want to pursue. It will help you and everyone else who is saying, “I don’t know what career I want.”
Tip #1: Ask yourself: “What am I good at?”
The question “what career should I pursue?” is broad, and as a result, it can be difficult to know where to start. You should focus on what you are already good at and make a list of the skills that you could use in a future career.
If you’re not sure what you are good at, you can always ask a friend or a co-worker for advice. You can also take a career aptitude personality test like the Career Karma quiz to help identify your unique strengths.
By focusing on what you are good at, you can then spend time looking for employers that need people with your talent. If you are good at writing, for example, you may decide that you should look for careers that involve reporting. If you are also good at coding, you may think that a career in technical writing is good for you.
In addition, you should also think about what skills you enjoy practicing. Rather than just focusing on what you are good at, think about the tasks that you have loved to do in the past. Has marketing work always excited you? Maybe that is a signal that a career in marketing could be right for you.
Tip #2: Reflect on your old jobs
Look forward to starting a new career instead of wondering why your last job didn’t work out. Reflecting on your old jobs can give an idea of what it was that made you like or dislike the path you were on. This will give you more information about what you want in a new job.
Consider asking questions like the following:
- What did you like most about your last employer?
- What did you like least about your last employer?
- What moments made you feel happiest at your last job?
- What task made you excited to wake up in the morning?
- What responsibilities did you enjoy taking on?
- Which responsibilities did you feel were dragging your progress?
Reflecting on these questions will help you gain a better sense of what your current career is lacking. If you can’t come up with good points from your last job, then that is a strong signal that you need to move on. But, if you can find a few good points, then you can use that information. This can help you decide what roles or responsibilities you may want to take on next in your career.
Tip #3: Talk to people in interesting fields
Think about what skills you are good at and the field you are passionate about. From there, you should network with people in those industries.
Take some time to schedule calls with people in the fields you are interested in. Seek their advice. Ask them about day-to-day responsibilities, how they got to where they are today, and what their thoughts are on the overall industry.
These calls are a great way to get to know what the average day in a new job looks like. If you want to make the most out of these conversations, come prepared with questions in advance. You can also offer to help the other person out if there is an opportunity to do so.
Start with the people in your network. Who do you know in the industries that you’re interested in pursuing?
Then, you can expand your reach further. Use LinkedIn and AngelList to discover new people to network with in your ideal career. Alternatively, ask your friends, co-workers, and families for introductions to other people. You can even use these platforms to ask advice about informational interviews in your industry.
Tip #4: Ask: “What does my dream job look like?”
Taking time to reflect on what your dream job looks like is a good way to figure out what path may be worth pursuing.
Instead of focusing on job titles, salaries, or job descriptions, you should think about what you want to do daily. What type of work do you want to wake up to in the morning? Do you want to spend a lot of time doing independent work, or do you prefer team-based environments? You should be asking yourself these questions.
Imagine what a day in your dream job would look like, then consider what careers would align with that job. For instance, if you want to spend days coding and you love websites, then a job in web development could be worth pursuing.
You should also use this question as an opportunity to consider your ideal work environment. Does your ideal employer support remote working, or do you want to be in an office? How many hours do you want to work? Do you want to work in a highly results-driven culture?
Indeed, no matter what career you pursue, you’ll likely have to go to an office, so considering the work environment is crucial. For instance, if you love structure, you may prefer a 9-5 job. If you want to work remotely, you are able to work on your own schedule. But some companies may require you to work during certain “core” hours.
Tip #5: Learn as much as you can
One mistake that people make when choosing a career path is planning out the perfect career without learning things that may be relevant.
Instead of just reading about new careers and the paths you could take, try out as many things as you can. Sign up for a class at your local college, or audit an online class, or follow a few tutorials in some fields of interest. By doing so, you’ll be able to get hands-on experience with different fields, which will help you better understand what to expect going forward.
You may realize, for example, that data science, while an interesting career path, involves too much mathematics for you. But, you’ll only be able to realize that if you spend some time learning about data science. It’s much better to explore many options and fail at a few than to invest in one before you are ready.
Tip #6: Do what you love
Just because you haven’t found a job that you truly enjoy, you shouldn’t that discourage you from finding a career path you love. In fact, look into all career choices if you are unsure and find what you’re interested in.
When you’re thinking about a new career to pursue, ask yourself: “What do I love? What are the things that you enjoy doing, which I would do even if I would not get paid?” For a moment, instead of worrying about the optics of a job, let yourself imagine what work you would love to do.
Many people choose a career based on how it will help them reach a long-term goal. That could include learning a specific salary or starting a business by a certain age. While this works for some people, most career decisions should be made based on what you will do every day. In short, try to pick a career that enables you to do what you love.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a new career is never easy as there are so many career options out there. You could be an accountant, web developer, data scientist, or chef. With so many options out there, it may feel impossible for you to choose.
It is a good idea to reflect on your past and wonder what is next. You should be able to figure out what you want to do in your next career.
One final piece of advice we have is to not worry about choosing an entire career. It’s impossible to chart out what you’ll spend the rest of your life doing.
Instead, focus on choosing what your next move should be in your job search. What job do you want to do next? What industry should that job be in? Answering these questions will help your quest when finding a job.
Thinking about your next endeavor will take away some tension that comes with choosing a career. It helps you focus more on what you want to do now, rather than what you want to do in five or 10 years. So look forward to the future and hopefully you won’t have to ask “I don’t know what career I want”.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.