career path

Choosing the Right Career Takes Work

There is nothing more important in your search for your first full-time job than taking the time to really figure out what is the right career for you. You need to “take a pause” and give yourself some contemplation time to think through and catalog your likes and dislikes, your passions, and your strengths. The truth is, most people start looking for a job before they think carefully about what to look for. Perhaps they got caught up in how the entertainment industry portrays a career, or perhaps a family member has influenced them to pursue a career of interest to that family member, but not necessarily to them. Or, they just started searching for something where the pay is acceptable without considering if the job is really right or best for them.

So what is the right career for you? Is it the one with the best pay? Is it the one with the best hours to allow you more time to pursue outside-of-work activities? Is it the one where your good friends work?

Since you will likely spend about 8 hours or more of every workday on the job, wouldn’t you prefer to choose a career that you will look forward to, and not one where you will have to force yourself to go to work every day? Finding a job you will enjoy doing every day (or at least most days), means it must be one that interests you and one at which you do well or can learn to do well. So how do you discover such a career?

Excluding blind luck, there is only one way- you have to spend the time to figure out where your interests lay relative to potential careers, and doing so is not always easy, especially given the number of possible careers out there. Yes, it is true that some individuals, early in life, figured out what they wanted to do, and have been moving towards it ever since. Based on being exposed to a career to which they felt strongly attracted, they locked in and started moving down the necessary path. But how many of us are lucky enough to become exposed to just that right career path? There are thousands of careers out there, and if we are lucky, we probably get significant exposure to perhaps 5, 10 or maybe even 20. For most of us, if we are to find a career right for us, we have to broaden our exposure greatly.

A useful starting point is to employ time-tested career assessment tools to get the ball rolling. We have found that a combination of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® and the Strong Interest Inventory®, when interpreted appropriately, can provide a valuable initial read on your interests. Both of these assessments have their origins in the early 1900’s, and so they have been tested and updated to make them even more effective, for decades. The guidance they offer is statistically based on patterns uncovered in many thousands of respondents.

In general, they work as follows: They compare your answers on the items included in the assessment to the answers of others included within their exhaustive databases, and using statically based analysis, predict for you where your interests or preferences are likely to be. For example, the Strong Interest Inventory® assessment provides several different reads on your interests, starting with a general level, and then providing progressively narrower reads to help you focus in on the specific career choices which are more likely to fit you.

No tool, however, can provide results that work every time for every individual. That is where coaches trained in administering the assessments come in. They have learned how to use the results of these assessments as starting points to guide others through a process that includes in-depth discussion and additional investigative methods to reach the desired endpoint of uncovering career choices right for you. More steps are needed, including reviewing the work content of potential career choices, speaking with others who made such career choices for themselves and possibly even seeking internships in areas of possible interest. Those additional aspects will be covered in future blog posts.

The key messages for today are:

  1. To enjoy a more fulfilling work life, you should choose a career that matches up with your deepest interests
  2. You should not limit your career options to only those few for which you may have personal knowledge
  3. Employing career assessment tools can open up the universe of potential careers for you
  4. Results from the assessment tools are a great first step to discover the right career!
filed under: Career Coaching, College to Career
Steve Vogel

Written by Steve Vogel

Steve Vogel graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Emory University and went on to earn the Accounting Award as the top performing student in his class at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he obtained his MBA degree. Steve started his business career with Boston Consulting Group, and later held positions in Strategy, Operations and Finance with American Standard, Masco, Ingersoll Rand and Dover Corporation. Within Dover, Steve served as CFO at Hydro Systems where he worked closely with Jeff Rowe and Fran Nunan.