6 Tips for Choosing the Right Career Path When You Are Undecided 1

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

With so many career options on offer, it can be a lot easier said than done to choose the right career path. Nowadays, people are faced with a dilemma between choosing a job role which pays well and wanting to find a career that they can thrive and excel in. If you have absolutely no idea about what you want to do, then it can seem like an impossible task to find a career that you would be happy in. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make a choice a little easier. Here are 6 tips to help you organize your thoughts, and find the ideal career for you.

Know yourself well

In order to be able to choose the right career, you first need to know yourself in detail, in order to help you determine a career sector where you would best fit in. Firstly, consider your likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses, as this will help you to decide how best to utilize your skills, and also choose a career path where you will feel the most contented in your work. There are other factors which you should also take into consideration, such as your personality type (for example, are you more of a laid back, or energetic person?), and aptitudes.

The simplest way in which you can gather this information is by making lists of all of your traits and what you are looking for out of your ideal job. Alternatively, you might want to make use of self-assessment tools, such as career or aptitude tests, in order to help you narrow down your search list. However, it is important to remember that these sorts of tests make their assessments based off of a limited amount of information, so you shouldn’t base your career search solely off of these results.

Decide what is important to you

Everyone wants to get something different from their career. For example, you might be looking for a job which affords you the ability to progress up the career ladder to a position of power; in that case, you would want to find a career that had the opportunity for advancement, such as one in a corporate office with clear tiers of hierarchy. Alternatively, perhaps you are looking for a job which involves working in the community or looking after vulnerable animals, but that doesn’t necessarily offer the chance for advancement.

Whatever it is that holds the most value to you in a prospective job role, it is important to consider this when choosing your career path. You should also take your morals and personal viewpoints into account as well, as you don’t want to compromise your way of thinking in order to get certain career role: for example, if you are a vegan, you might not be comfortable working at a company which tests its products on animals.

Narrow down your options

Once you are aware of what you are looking for from your job, and what skills you have to bring to the table, then you can start to consider different career options. Firstly, create a list of all of the career options which you are interested in, either if you are not entirely sure if they would be the best fit at this time. You may find it useful to then categorize these so that they are easier to look at, either by putting them in alphabetical order or by categorizing them into industry sectors (e.g., health and social care, animal care, medicine, etc.). Once you have all of your options laid out in from of you, you can start to whittle down the options. Be practical about your decisions, which will involve thinking about what qualifications you would need to fulfill each roll, whether the working hours would work for you, and more.

Once you have narrowed down your list to around ten choices (and ideally no more than twenty different options), you can then start to explore the careers on your shortlist in more detail. Learn everything you can about each job role, look at factors such as job descriptions, educational, training and licensing requirements, accounts of people in that industry, wellbeing statistics of people in that career, wages, and job outlook, and more.

It is important to explore all the possibilities which are available to you, as though you might find that your ideal career may not be realistically obtainable, there might be similar job roles which are better suited to you. For example, if you wanted to be a pharmacist, but did not feel you would be able to meet the qualification requirements, then you could always look into some of the other highest paying jobs in pharmaceutical industry instead; you might find that there is a job role out there that still meets all of your requirements, without as many qualifications being needed.

Come to a decision

When making your final choice, ensure that you pick an occupation which will bring you the most overall satisfaction, taking into account everything that you’ve made notes on your skills, what you want out of your career, your personality, likes and dislikes, etc. You don’t necessarily have to pick a specific job role at this time, but you do at least need to decide on which industry you would like to work in and have some sort of obtainable goal in mind.

One mistake that a lot of people make when it comes to making a career choice is over thinking everything to the point where they never really make a choice. Often making the wrong choice is better than making no choice at all, because at least that way you are taking some action and can start to get the ball rolling. Many people change their careers at least a few times throughout their lives, and often the skills that you need for one job role can be applied to another without a lot of hassle at all, so remember that if you’re still not one hundred percent sure about your choices.

Identify what your goals are

Once you know what sort of career path you would like to go down, your next step is to determine what your long term and short term goals are. These are the goals which will not only help you get into the career that you have chosen but also beyond that, are things you would like to achieve once you start at your chosen place of work. For short-term goals, think of milestones which you would like to achieve over the next few months, up to a year or two in the future. Long-term goals are things which might take a few years to achieve, which is why it is important to have the smaller milestones leading up to it so that you don’t lose focus over time.

The research that you conducted when looking into different career paths will be a good starting point for you to determine what your immediate goals should be. For example, if you need to gain any qualifications or undertake any training which you do not already possess, these should be your starting points. For example, if you needed to gain a qualification in Health and Social Care, then your first move would be to look into where you could gain that qualification, then apply to courses or colleges as necessary. Alternatively, you may find that you don’t need any formal qualifications, but that you would benefit from participating in an apprenticeship, or through doing an internship. If you are at a stage in your life where you already have the necessary qualifications, then your first step would be to apply to jobs in your chosen sector which interest you: it might be worth exploring a range of job titles when you apply, as you don’t necessarily have to accept a job just because you receive an offer.

Come up with an action plan

Once you know what your goals are, it is then a good idea to integrate them into a detailed ‘career action plan,’ which should outline all of the steps which you think you will need to take in order to reach each of your goals. It’s likely that some of your goals will change over time, but that’s fine: you can just adapt your action plan as necessary. You should dedicate a decent amount of time to this, as otherwise, it is likely that you will end up missing out on important information.

You can also extend your career plan to include goals you would like to obtain once you reach your chosen career. For example, think about how you would define success within your chosen job role, and what you would need to do to achieve it. Make sure to express all of your goals in a positive manner, focusing on what you would like to achieve, not what you wouldn’t. Set your priorities, and order each goal chronologically so that it can be followed like a map. Most importantly, break your goals down into small, achievable tasks, as this will keep you motivated to stay on track.