A job takes up much of your waking time, but a career can take up much of your waking life. It can influence where you live and who you meet. It can dominate the way you spend your time and the way you see the world. A good, fulfilling career can make a big difference in the quality of your life, so it’s worth it to spend the time and energy to get the best start you can in finding the right career path.
Ask yourself what kinds of activities you enjoy, then determine where those activities take place in the working world. If you like sharing knowledge, for example, you might look into jobs in teaching, financial consulting or customer service. If you like solving and fixing problems, you might be suited for a career as a repairman, accountant or analyst. If you have the artist’s bug, but don't like the confines of a set schedule, the right career path might be working as a freelance graphic artist.
A good job has to meet your work preferences, or else it leads to stress. Take the time to assess your preferences, and be thorough. For example, some people like working on a fixed schedule, while others prefer flexible hours. Some like an office setting and some really want to work from home. Some people like working with others, while others like being mostly by themselves. Some like sitting at a desk, and some prefer standing at a counter or working outside. When searching for the right career, be mindful of where, and how, you want to do your work.
People who are already entrenched in a career often have valuable insights into how they went about it. Talk to them about how they chose their careers and what they had to do to find the right one. Also, seek advice from people who know and understand you fairly well. Tell them you’re looking to build a career and would welcome ideas on how to find the right fit. Leave it as an open-ended question so they can respond in their own way. When you seek advice from people who know you, you are more likely to get insights into yourself and gauge your suitability for a given line of work.
Career Counseling and Testing
If you still don’t have a strong idea of the direction you would like your career to take, there are a number of other steps to help you along. For instance, you can meet with career counselors. They typically ask you about your interests and skills and then provide advice on the careers that might suit you the best. They can also help you research different careers so you know what to expect in terms of qualifications, working conditions and salaries. Another option is to take a career test either online or at a career placement center. According to the Helpguide website, one such test, frequently used by universities and the U.S. government, is the RIASEC/Holland interest scale. It outlines six common personality types and lets you browse sample careers based on your personality type.