Question: “How do I go about finding the ideal career for me?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
This question is one of the toughest to answer because all I can really do is point a job-seeker in the right direction and offer some resources… you have to do all the work. You have to do the self-analysis and reflection.
The good news is, though, that if you complete all my suggested exercises, you will not only have a better handle on your career direction, but you should have a better handle on who you are as a person.
Step 1: Develop a personal mission statement. What’s your focus I life? What are the underlying forces that guide your decision-making? Most people have some kind of informal mission statement — developed by the people, religion, and philosophies around us. Now is the time to spend some time contemplating your life’s mission and put words to paper. Read our article, Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course and read some sample mission statements.
Step 2: Conduct an interests self-assessment. Spend some time analyzing the things you really love to do — and not just at work. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests? Develop a list of the things that you like to do — as well as a list of things you do not like doing. If you’re having some troubles here, consider taking one or more of the career assessment tests that we recommend. Some of these assessments will match your interests with career fields. If you are a teen or college student who has an interest one or more particular subjects, consider using one of the tools we link to in our career exploration resources.
Step 3: Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself and your career. What is a SWOT analysis? It’s a tool to help you look both internally at your strengths and weaknesses as an employee as well as the opportunities and threats in your current (or future) career field. It’s a tool that we use in analyzing businesses and industries all the time. The goal is not simply a snapshot of where you are when you complete the analysis, but the development of strategies for how you can capitalize the situation. If you still do not have one career path in mind, take the time to research the careers that do interest you. Read our article, Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning.
Step 4: Complete a workplace values self-assessment. Job-seekers expect to achieve certain ideals from their jobs, employers, and careers. These workplace values, concepts, and ideas that you hold dear have a direct impact on your satisfaction with your job, with your career, and even with your life. When you understand the values you cherish most highly, you can make an evaluation about whether your current employer (or a prospective employer) supports those values. What are the values you cherish the most? Take our workplace values assessment.
Finally, if you are still having some difficulty with finding career direction — even after completing all these steps — I strongly recommend that you find a guidance counselor, career counselor, or other career professional who can work with you on a one-to-one basis and help you develop a career plan.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
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