How to Choose Your Career

The thought of  choosing a career can be intimidating.  It feels like everything that you’ve done comes down to this moment and if you make the wrong decision, you will be destined to be unhappy in your job.  Take a breath.  The truth is that most people get it wrong the first time.  In fact, many people change careers three or four times throughout their working life.  However, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration by investing time and effort into your career planning process.   If you do the research now, you can put yourself on a path that you will be able to follow throughout your career.  Sure, there will be some twists and turns along the way but you’ll have an idea of where you are going, and if you don’t, then at least you’ll enjoy the journey.  Here are the factors to consider when selecting a career:


Your skills.  Your skills are the things that you are able to do.  You have developed certain skills at school, at your previous jobs, during extracurricular activities and through your personal life.  Some examples of skills include creating, calculating, investigating, problem solving, decision making, leadership, teamwork, fixing and repairing, and mechanical operation.  We all have certain things that we’re good at; make a list of those skills and you’re off to the right start.

Your interests.  There is nothing worse than dragging yourself out each morning to a job that you hate.  You need to find something that really gets your blood flowing.  As Confucius said, “Choose a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”.  What do you love?  Where does your passion lie?  If you’re not sure, try to remember what you liked to do as a child.  That often gives us a clue as to what we really enjoy doing when salary is removed from the equation.

Your values.  We all live our lives according to our values.  Your values are what is important to you and you will not be happy unless your life is consistent with them.  Similarly, we all have work values.  Some examples of work values are job security, opportunity for advancement, a short commute, work-life balance, autonomy, helping others, prestige, leadership, and creativity.  If you choose a career that is not consistent with your values, you may find that you are frustrated and unhappy in the job.

The labour market.  Once you know what type of career you are looking for, you need to determine which jobs are actually in demand.  A labour market assessment will let you know how many jobs are available for your target career within your region, and it will give you an idea of the requirements of the position.  Industry and company research will help you get a deeper understanding of the day-to-day realities of the job so that you are able to find a job that is a good fit for you.

One of the most amazing things about today’s economy is that there are so many different options available.  However the sheer quantity of potential opportunities can be intimidating in itself.  The key is to keep it simple and to have fun with it.  Stay focused on what’s important to you and allow yourself to get excited by what you find out there.  Good luck!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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