5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Career Options

Resource Photo - 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Career Options

The process of choosing a career is filled with angst. There's pressure from family, friends and the world in general. It's an important decision, so don't rush yourself. It takes time to find your calling and discover your talents. If you want to land a meaningful job or orchestrate a career change, you need a plan. Put on your thinking cap, and answer these questions to get started.

1. What are my skills, personal strengths and interests?

Some people achieve success in areas where they don't have natural advantages or obvious skills. For example, a popular motivational speaker might have a lisp. However, most people focus on areas where they excel, such as math, music or art. Determine how your interests and skills can be combined profitably. Explore different career options. Discover whether you love interacting with customers or prefer working behind the scenes. Think of ways that you can make yourself more valuable.

2. Is this something that I love to do?

Make sure that you enjoy your work. Sometimes, you can't be certain until you try it. If a friend or family member has a similar job, arrange a weeklong practicum. Apply for local internships. Visiting the workplace is the best way to see how stressful or calm the environment is. You might imagine yourself as a successful stockbroker until you feel the pressure of managing clients' assets. If one job isn't a good fit, think of other ways that you can work within the industry. Research different occupations and job responsibilities.

3. How much will I earn?

To be happy and successful, you don't have to land the highest paying job. However, you should consider the average salary for different occupations within your prospective industry. Sometimes, a slight change in your career path can have great financial rewards if you have the qualifications that are needed in rapidly growing markets. Occasionally, accepting an offer with lower pay is the best decision if it's your dream job or if you get to work for your favorite company. In the long run, lower paying jobs that have convenient hours, less stress and better benefits lead to greater career satisfaction. However, you should never be afraid to ask for the salary that you deserve.

4. What kind of training do I need?

When you're researching careers, see what qualifications are needed for different jobs and pay grades. Maybe you want to start immediately so that you can work while you complete your degree. Careers that require certifications often pay better than entry-level positions. Alternatively, you might be ready to invest in an advanced degree so that you can earn higher pay. Consider educational requirements, work experience and additional licenses, certifications and professional memberships that are required for certain occupations.

5. What are my career goals?

Think about your future. Don't limit your options. In an ideal world, where do you want to be in five, 10 or 20 years? Do you want to start your own business or move into a management position within an established company? Consider which type of career matches your goals. Use employment statistics and government resources to determine if there's room for advancement. Many professions are flexible. For example, if you become a lawyer, you could work for a multinational corporation. You could also start your own practice or work for a non-profit advocacy group. If you learn a trade, you could work for yourself or join an existing construction company. Find the career path that will help you accomplish your goals.

Ask for advice from people who have the job that you want or who have retired from the industry. Research everything from job stability to industry growth and emerging specialties. If you feel like the career path that you have in mind will meet all of your requirements, move forward confidently. Whether you're starting your first career or making a big change, take the chance.

For additional help with exploring career options, learn more about career planning. It only takes about 20 minutes and will help match your interests, skills, and work values to one of our 90+ programs.

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