Choosing a career path enables you to make informed professional decisions based on your current experience and skills. Think about your career goals, skills and interests to make life choices like the schools to apply for and the right entry job to start with. You can also evaluate whether to obtain specialised certification or a graduate degree. In this article, we provide useful tips to help you to pinpoint your interests and skills and match them to a relevant job field to start off a great career.

What Is A Career Path?

A career path is the various positions you work in as you advance in your industry. Your college degree or first job starts the path. By acquiring additional skills and knowledge, you can progress into advanced roles. Another option is to move laterally and take up different but equal job roles.

How To Select A Career Path

When you develop your career path, consider your personality, professional goals and future plans. Use these factors to select the right initial job and make smart decisions at each step as your career advances.

  • Define your career objectives
  • Create long-term plans
  • Learn about your type of personality
  • Review your work experience
  • Compare your education to job requirements
  • Evaluate your skillset
  • Note your interests
  • Be aware of your main values
  • Determine your desired salary
  • Do research at a career resource centre
  • Interview executives
  • Complete an internship
  • Do volunteer work
  • Obtain a broad education
  • Join a professional network

Related: How To Get Career Ideas (Plus A List Of Interesting Careers)

1. Define your career objectives

Start by reflecting and answering a few important questions. This will help narrow your options and focus your actions.Consider the following questions:

  • What are my career goals?
  • What are my core values?
  • What are my favourite professional activities and hobbies?
  • What subjects interest me?
  • What are my abilities and strengths? Hard or soft skills?
  • Am I interested in a management or technical role?

The answers to the above questions will help you develop a stronger career path. You should also revisit your career objectives as you advance professionally and personally to ensure they align with your preferences and remain achievable.

Related: ​12 “Experience” Synonyms For Resumes (With Examples)

2. Create long-term plans

After narrowing your choices, you can create suitable career milestones. Find out the position of other professionals in your industry five and ten years in their career. Note their job titles and decide the advancements and roles you would like to reach those future points. After that, you need to perform research on how to achieve those objectives. For instance, you may be required to enroll in training programs, hold prerequisite roles, or accept specific responsibilities.By deciding long-term career goals, you can make periodic plans based on annual progress. Reflect regularly on your goals and career progress to ensure you stay on the right path.

3. Learn about your type of personality

Find out about your personality type by understanding your traits. This will help you to recognise your interests and build your strengths and objectives based on them, including your career goals. Various tests provide the standard career options for a personality type. If just one or two jobs or careers show up across the multiple tests you take, you can research them. Popular tests for personality type indication include the following:

  • Jungian Type Index: This is a self-assessment that can give you a view of your type of personality and suitable careers by pinpointing Jungian cognitive abilities or descriptions behind specific psychological choices.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: This is a questionnaire that includes questions to discover your psychological predilections. The indicator system uses this information to categorise users based on four important dichotomies. It enables you to recognise your type of personality from 16 choices.
  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter: The Keirsey test is a self-evaluation questionnaire that is similar to Myers-Briggs. It identifies positions that match each type of temperament. The questionnaire concentrates on temperaments and behaviours and not on preferences.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

4. Review your work experience

Identify which of your previous roles gave you the most job satisfaction. This can help to guide your career options. Pinpoint trends and patterns in your past positions, like acquiring and using a particular technical skill. Review your career thus far to identify roles that gave you the most fulfilment.

5. Compare your education to job requirements

Many positions need specific educational requirements for new hires and applicants, such as a high school diploma, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. In addition, some roles need candidates to possess a degree in a related field. Find out about the educational requirements for roles you wish to apply for and check if they match your current education level or require additional certifications or degrees that you may need to work toward.

6. Evaluate your skillset

Prepare a detailed list of your expertise areas, certifications and current skills. Get feedback and opinions about your people management, interpersonal and technical skills from your colleagues and coworkers. Use this analysis to find a career that is a match for your strengths.

7. Note your interests

Learn about how your interests and activities you like doing pertain to certain roles. This insight can assist you to focus your job search. For instance, if you like solving logic puzzles, you can consider cybersecurity roles. Or, if you enjoy mingling with new people you can take up a sales position.Utilise the knowledge to explore volunteer opportunities or short-term jobs so you can identify new career choices. Gain first-hand experience in the role which will help you gauge your aptness for the field. You can also consider enrolling in a certification program in an arena you are interested in. This can help you to decide if you like the job’s required responsibilities and skills.

8. Be aware of your main values

Identify your chief values so you can focus on a personally fulfilling career. Plus, you can find niche areas or fields that align with your interests and passions. Make a list of attributes that are important to you in an enterprise and its staff members. Utilise this list to look for jobs and companies that display these values.

9. Determine your desired salary

Your lifestyle dictates the salary you need. You can search for the average salaries for the job and company you are interested in. This will help you to learn about the starting level salary as well as income potential after gaining a few years of experience. While a satisfying and engaging job is important, salary is also a vital factor that you should consider in selecting your career path.

10. Do research at a career resource centre

Schools and colleges have well-stocked career resource centres that you can visit to perform extensive research on suitable jobs and careers. These hubs have arrays of periodicals, books and online resources that you can use for your career search.Talk to a career counsellor to get information on popular jobs and careers. They can give you details about new fields and opportunities that may be suitable for you. Obtain extensive information on the role or career you are interested in from the counsellor.

11. Interview executives

Interview professionals in your chosen career to get information about what it is like to work in that particular role. Ask people you know or contact local companies and request quick phone interviews. Most employees will be happy to share their experience with an interested listener, so you can tap their expertise to boost your knowledge. Interviewing an experienced person can enable you to understand a typical day, the tasks they perform and whether you would enjoy doing the same work. You can then decide if the position or career is something to pursue.

12. Complete an internship

If the shadowing makes you feel that you like the job, you can apply for a summer position or internship to earn work experience and learn of possibilities for a future role in the company. If you have a degree in business that makes you qualified for an array of roles, the internship can help you narrow your choices and acquire useful hands-on skills.

13. Do volunteer work

If you do not want to apply for an internship that can last many months, try volunteering. This will give you exposure to the vocation and you can effortlessly quit if the role is not suitable for you.

14. Obtain a broad education

Students unsure of which stream to major in should look for a broad education rather than opting for a specific subject. If you decide your career path later, you can get specialisation in it. For instance, if science is your favourite subject, but you are not sure which area to focus on, do not opt for a specific major like cell biology. Keep your choices open and decide the area of specialisation later after you learn what you are interested in.

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