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Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
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choosing career

4 Crucial Considerations When Choosing Your Career

How do we choose our careers? Many people believe that what they choose to do as a profession is the key to their future! Career websites that list sought-after jobs make them seem like fun activities that we somehow get paid to do. And some of them probably are. But does that mean that such careers are for you?

When choosing a career path, it’s important to spend time considering what is important to you, your values, your strengths, and the legacy you want to leave. You will probably want a career that can make you financially stable as well.

I was talking to about 100 high school seniors recently, and here were some of the points I asked them to think about before making that final decision:

1. Consider what you want from a career. A career is a long-term commitment. It’s important to determine exactly what you want from yours. You can always change careers, but you need to make sure you have options. This is the major driving factor behind where to start your focus.

  • How about getting learning experience to take with you? Maybe there are developmental opportunities in one field that allow you to excel in others.
  • Does your personal satisfaction come from achieving recognition? Would you feel accomplished if you aren’t frequently recognized for your achievements?
  • Do you want to work with people or with things? Your work environment – where you go every day and who you are surrounded by is important.

2. Identify your skill sets. Take a moment to list the things you’re good at. How can you stand out from the crowd using these skills? What makes you different from the others? Are you more analytical, number-friendly, or people and service-oriented?

  • Does your combination of skills show flexibility and adaptability?
  • Are you being honest with yourself about your skills? Avoid overstating your skill set. If you’re only slightly familiar with something, avoid listing it. On the flip side, if you’re great at something, have the self-confidence to own it.

3. Consider what you’re passionate about. Remember that although you have specific goals for your career, it’s difficult to make it long-term if passion is missing.

  • It’s great to find a career that offers financial wellness. But if the job makes you miserable, it probably is not worth it. Ensure that whatever you choose, your heart is in it. Otherwise, go into a position with goals on what you want to learn and the skills you need to develop so that you can move onward and upward.
  • Remember that you can always make what you want out of what you’re given. Most of us have been promised one position only to be assigned to another. It is helpful to remember that every job is important and we can learn every day. A little creativity and a great attitude can turn any job into something spectacular.

4. Determine the market for your career interest. What does the future look like? Know what the market forces are for your chosen field.

I don’t feel sorry for people who earn a degree only to discover after graduation that those jobs are either very low paying or almost non-existent. Determine the demand for the career you are interested in before you make a lengthy commitment for a certification or schooling.

Yes, it would be nice if your #1 passion was also an in-demand and lucrative career, but it doesn’t always work that way. Do the research before you commit. Some career fields are overpopulated. Other jobs are being phased out. Beware of choosing a career that has waned in popularity or demand. The needs of the job market change rapidly and it’s best to know trends and changes in your field of choice.

  • Research current job market trends to develop an understanding of up-and-coming careers.
  • Use job boards to find out if what you are interested in has the kind of jobs you want.

Your career path requires significant thought. Your aim is to make the most of the opportunities afforded to you with the impact you want to make on the world. Think big and prepare! Preparation can help you make the right choice. So go forward with excitement and an open mind. Ideally, you know your ideal career choice when you see it. It may not be right away, but it should be right for you.

Your career is exactly that – yours. It is yours to choose, yours to manage, and yours to decide. Be smart about making choices, and leave yourself open to saying yes to new opportunities as they come along.


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