When deciding upon a career path, there are many important factors to consider including work style, earnings potential, social interaction and work-life balance just to name a few. Whether you've just graduated college, a mid-career professional or just not feeling satisfied with your current career path, below are some great points to evaluate to help you make a qualified career choice.
What are your talents?
All of us have special god-given talents, or certain actions that just come natural to us. When using these special talents, we are often complimented for our abilities and time has a way of passing by quickly as if we're not even working. Maybe you're the artistic type and like to draw? Maybe you've got a green thumb and enjoy working in your garden? Maybe you've got a super-outgoing type A personality and you enjoy meeting new people? Understanding your natural talents, and the skills you already possess, is the first step to helping you choose a 'best fit' career path. Of course we can all do many things but we're most likely to excel and spend more hours doing the things we enjoy most. Conversely, the tasks we're not so good at will seem more like work to us!
What is your 'natural' work style?
Whether you realize it or not, each of us already has a natural work style. Although we can adapt to different work environments, it may conflict with our natural style and make us uncomfortable. For example, some people are just naturally shy and introverted and work well on their own. Although this person could try to adapt to a social work environment with lots of interaction with new people, they will likely perform best in a work environment where they can be autonomous to focus on their job duties and responsibilities without feeling uncomfortable or pressured. As another example, some people prefer a less structured work (more autonomous) environment where they are not tied to a clock whereas others prefer one that is more structured and certain duties are outlined for them. Understanding your natural work environment is important to helping you chose your best career path.
Where do you like to work?
Understanding the type of environment you work best in is very important to understand. Are you the type of person that can't sit behind a desk and prefers a more physical, hands-on work environment? Do you prefer to work in an office or do you prefer to spend your days out-and-about meeting new potential clients and customers? Are you the type of person that prefers working from home or do you prefer a daily commute to feel like you're actually at work? Recognizing the type of work environment you excel in is important to know.
Do you enjoy interacting with others?
Are you the type of person who works best by themself or do you excel when you're part of a team? Are you an independent thinker or are you inspired by the collaboration of a group setting? Understanding your comfort zone with social interaction in integral to your career choice. Some people would rather have the autonomy to work alone without the complications and frustrations or working and interacting with others. Which are you?
How important is work-life balance to you?
Are you the type of person who prefers a structured 40-hour, Monday through Friday job where your weekends are open? Are you the type of person who prefers flexibility in their work schedule to work the hours you want, whether early morning or late into the evening? Are you the type of person who values a short commute to work or do you look forward to the train ride to work as a chance to relax before your work day? Understanding your work-life balance needs are important help you focus on a career path appropriate for you.
Are you seeking to give back?
Not all jobs have a component of "giving back" but many jobs do. When selecting a career, some people are most concerned about the difference they can make in others, versus themselves. For example, some people feel compelled to be a teacher because they enjoy seeing student's learn at an early age. Others become doctors because they enjoy making people healthy again or good about themselves. And yet, others may pursue a career in city government because they may want a strong, better community to live in for themselves as well as their family. Knowing that you are a person who is looking to give back can influence your career path.
Are you comfortable in the public eye?
Some careers by their nature require you to be seen by the general public on a regular basis. Think of a TV anchor person, a weatherman, a spokesperson for a particular company or a city commissioner just to name a few. Are you the type of person that welcomes extra attention when spotted at the grocery store, church or even at the mall? Some people love being the center of attention and some people are, shall we say, are just the opposite. Understanding your comfort level in the public eye is important to know when selecting a career.
How well do you handle stress?
Are you the type of person that works well under pressure and stressful situations or are you the type of person that easily gets frustrated? Some positions, by default, force you to deal with deadlines or customer complaints and some people easily succumb to the stress that is put on them. Conversely, some people excel at project with deadlines because it gives them an opportunity to promote their abilities and to stand out above the crowd. What type of person are you?
How much money do you want to earn?
When seeking a career path, are you the type of person that's motivated by the earning's potential of the position are you more concerned with the life-work balance, level of stress and/or pursuing a career better suited to your natural work style? Are you determined to be the bread-winner for your family or are you comfortable with being part of a two-income family? If money is the reward you seek, there are definitely careers to match!
If picking a career path still seems stressful after reading the above, your best option is to select a career path by making the best informed decision you can knowing that you can change your mind in the future. In today's fast-paced and competitive workplace, people often make career changes and career moves for certain reasons. It's important to recognize that your career focus will change as time rolls on. Your needs for money, freedom, life-work balance and recognition will change as well.