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How to Make the Right Career Choice

In the 5th century BC, a wise old Chinese gentleman by the name of Confucius unearthed a profound nugget of career wisdom. He adviced to choose a job that you love, and then you would never have to work a day in your life! 

So, how to pick a career?

Ask yourself this question in your spare moments: what is the one thing you would regret not doing the most if you were to die tomorrow? 

Even if it is something as simple as writing a book, you know you have on your hands the key to both your destiny and your career. 

More often than not, you always know what you want to become and the legacy that you want to leave behind for the rest of the world. Tap into that inner voice. Heed the advice of the quiet soul and unlock your true potential. 

Well then, how to choose a career path? 

Here is an illustrative example of how to decide a career. 

In her final year of college, Jackie was worried about what career to choose. She had plenty of interests, but she was pretty unsure what her ultimate goal in life was. To find some solace and advice, one weekend, Jackie went home to her mother and asked for advice on how to choose a career.

"Mom, what sort of career should I take up?" she asked.

Jackie's mom wisely sat her down and gave her some counsel on how to decide on a career path. They tracked Jackie's life from the time of her childhood till her final year in college. They noted down her interests and her qualifications. Then they made a list of what Jackie wanted to accomplish with her life and what she wanted to experience. 

So, Jackie made a very detailed list, including all the cities she wanted to visit, and the kind of house she wanted to retire in. She had her whole lifestyle planned out, including how much it would cost her to maintain her painting hobby and her passion for collecting old books. 

Jackie was particular and specific in her list. It would help if you were too. Then, she finally narrowed her many interests down to a particular job. She wanted to become a data analyst. She was thrilled and content with the choice she had made. 

If you are among the multitude wondering how do I choose a career, this article is meant just for you! 

Let's get started!

  • Why choosing a career of your interest matters?
  • What makes a career the best fit for you?
  • Steps to follow when deciding on a career choice
  • Tips to keep in mind while choosing a new career

Why choosing a career of your interest matters?

Katherine Whitehorn said: "Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it."

When deciding on how to pick a career path, one of the soundest pieces of advice that you will ever receive is to choose something that you have an interest in. Not just a passing interest, but a deep-rooted, highly cherished, passionate, fire-blazing love. 

Why?

When passion aligns with career, the kind of conflagration that is sparked off cannot be put out by mere setbacks or disappointments. 

Passionate love for your work alleviates you from the level of a mere wage-seeker to the position of a craftsman. Eventually, it sets you on the road to becoming a virtuoso.

That is why everyone recommends choosing an area of interest as a career option. The motivation to do the job will automatically come when the interest matches with the career. 

Usually, the answer to how to choose the right career lies deep within your soul, and it is manifested in the activities you participated in as a child. If you were intrigued by computers as a kid, chances are you followed that up in college.

If you enjoyed playing video games, you are probably looking to enter game development. But if you loved creating complex systems, backend programming may be the right fit for you. Interests that grow in childhood usually lead us to make a career in that field. 

When you wonder how do I choose a career, given that you have so many interests and ideas that you want to work with, consider the one thing that you will regret not doing the most. 

It could be finally building that arcade game that had your friends in high-school hooked, or the e-commerce site that you wish you owned. Whichever of these teenage dreams had you interested in Computer Science, think back to them; they hold the key to a treasure trove of interests and aspirations. 

At the end of the day, how to decide on a career path does not have to be a complicated process. It can be something you do intuitively. But whatever you choose, do it for love of the work and not the money. The money will eventually find its way to you.

Once you have a broad idea of what field you like, how to know what career to choose? 

That is not easy to determine and involves doing a lot of research. You have to find out the exact nature of the task or the precise job role, and it consists of scouring various job sites and looking for the right career fit. You can also ask around your family and friend circle to keep an eye out for the job that you would like.

At no point, however, does how to choose a new career have to be a difficult or stressful process. It is not equivalent to the actual job hunting, but the preliminary tasks you need to get out of the way before searching for a job. It involves choosing a domain, a path or trajectory that you want to follow, and the nature of the job itself. 

So, let us get started on how to choose your career!

How do you know if a career is your best fit?

While how to pick a career is one of the most important decisions you will make in life, you can always switch mid-way to explore some other field or subject line. 

Nobody but you can have an answer to this question. You need to spend time analysing the kind of person you are and the road you want to take in life. From there on, you can gain some idea into the nature of the job you want. 

A career should ideally be mentally stimulating, filled with challenges, have a decent wage that you can live on, and be rewarding as well as impactful to the world. It doesn't have to be much, for example, your career of choice can be a cyber nanny, but it does have to have some positive thrust on the world. Now, let us get started on the steps on how to decide a career. 

Steps to follow when deciding on a career choice

Jon Stewart said that he wanted to look back on his career and be proud of the work and be proud that he had tried everything.

While ruminating on how to choose a career, follow these particular steps, and you will find the process of finding the employment of your choice simplified! 

  • Perform a self-assessment test

Before you decide on how to choose a job, take some time out to perform a self-assessment test. Ask yourself a couple of vital questions like: 

  • What work do I want to do? 
  • What sort of work environment do I like? 
  • What do I want to achieve with my time? 
  • Why do I want to do this type of work? 
  • Whom does my work benefit? 
  • Does my career positively impact the world? 

Once you have the answers to all these questions, you will know how to pick a job. It will bring you clarity in what you are looking for from a job.

There is a whole host of other questions to ask when you’re wondering how to decide a career. Ask yourself, what are your key goals? Is it financial stability or independence when working? Going on this journey of self-discovery can help you to identify the job that you want clearly.

  • Start with Passion

Passion is a must when deciding how to choose a career path. Whatever you decide on, you must eventually commit yourself to it wholeheartedly. Being in love with your work will help you to counter setbacks with more determination than you would feel for just any job. 

Think of those dreams that keep you up at night. The key to your career is hidden there. So, bottom line, when wondering how to choose a job, choose something that you are passionate about, not something that offers you money and a career.  

  • Identify your must-haves

When contemplating how to choose your career, one of the methods you can follow is to list out your must-haves in the job. It could be a specific salary structure or a designation or some perks like vacation time or work flexibility. You can also look out for the nature of the work or the quality of the work environment. All these factors should be considered when thinking about how to choose a new career. 

  • Identify your Goals

Yes, how to know what career to choose can be very daunting, but if you have identified the goals that you want to achieve, looking out for the right job can become quite simple. Your goals could be to retire early or to start your own business. You may also want to make a career switch so that you can explore other aspects of life. So, quickly list out the goals for your life and get started on how to pick a career path!

  • Redefine "wealth."

Wealth can be a subjective term.

While money can buy you some pleasant experiences, it cannot purchase you a career that is fulfilling and at the same time worthy. So how to choose the right career? 

Choose something where the definition of wealth does not translate into a paycheck. As simple as that.

It should ideally translate into a learning experience or a creative outlet that helps to solve life problems. And it can also be the friendships you make or the satisfaction that you gain from your work. So, consider how to pick a job with a wise definition of wealth.

  • Ask people doing that job what their work is like

One of the things that you can consider while pondering how to decide on a career path is to go ahead and talk to those people who are already in that particular field of work. They will be able to give you a clue into the nature of the job, whether it is simple, or difficult or plain old boring.

Based on their answers, you can decide whether or not to choose that career line. You can find the people working in this field through your social network or through websites like LinkedIn. One-on-one conversations with them can be eye-opening. Such persons can be of great use to you when wondering how to choose a career path. 

  • Make a list of jobs to explore

Once you have narrowed out your interests and choices on how to choose a career, make a list of the jobs that sound interesting to you. Then, you can ask friends and family to pitch in with their ideas and inputs into what sort of demands every job requires.

A position on paper might not be as good in real-life. So, do adequate research on every job on your list. While exploring careers, you can consider reading about the experiences of people who have worked in that field before.

  • Explore the Occupations on Your List

How do I choose a career that I will enjoy and like in the long run?

If this is the question in your mind, try reading articles on "one day in the life of a data analyst", or something similar to get an idea into the work-life of the job that you are interested in. 

Also, try to find the salary package of the job that you would like. And before you choose a career path, you might want to get a look into the job requirements, the certifications, degree and training, that are required to be applicable for that particular job. Lastly, look for growth opportunities that are open to you for that specific field. 

  • Build a List of Jobs You Can Love

Once you have narrowed down your list to a couple of things, how to pick a career will seem much simpler. Rather, it would help if you made your list practical. 

Take into consideration your qualifications, credentials, past work experience and then finally settle on a career. 

  • Conduct Informational Interviews

Here is one way that you can explore the occupation that you would eventually like to work with. 

How to choose the right career? 

Try having conversations with those persons that are involved in the same field. Ask them probing questions, like:

  • What attracted you to this post?
  • Why were you interested in (subject)?
  • What are the implications of your work?
  • Whom does your work benefit? 
  • Research jobs and employers

The puzzle of how to know what career to choose can be quite problematic for many. But you can simplify matters by doing a lot of research on your job of choice and get appropriate information on it. Here are some questions that you can ask while conducting your research.

  • What was the turnover of the company?
  • Which new domains can the company enter?
  • Does the company have a high rate of attrition?
  • What were the opinions of the previous management?
  • Get training (if you need it) and update your resume

When you choose how to pick a career path, you may need to get some training. The training could be in a new language or in a new industry domain like working with Big Data. There are several community colleges where you can enrol and get yourself upskilled in the field of your choice. Then, make sure the change is reflected in your resume. 

  • Find and apply for jobs

Next, we come to the most vital step in how to choose a job. You can put your name up in several job sites and online portals where you can look for jobs. Also, look at the career pages of the company websites where they post new messages for the jobs they are looking for. 

  • Grow and learn

While you have already started on your career path, it is time to grow and learn through every step of your journey. If you are not learning at work, you are becoming stagnant, and that leads to a burnout sooner than you think.

While wondering how to pick a job, keep in mind these eight tips! They will profit you in your journey.

Trivia

The Japanese philosophy of "Kaizen" or continuous improvement is a process that continuously betters the quality of work-life of employees.

Tips to keep in mind while choosing a new career

  1. Never look at the money. You do not want to be that person who goes to work for the love of money. Logically speaking, money can solve a lot of problems, but it cannot give you a satisfying career full of exploration and growth.  
  2. Always trust your instincts when it comes to choosing a career. If your gut says data analyst, go with it. If your soul says, music and computers, find a job that mixes both. Perhaps, a data analyst for a record label?
  3. Your job should make you happy. You will probably be working around eight hours a day, seven days a week - that is a significant chunk of your time. It would help if you were happy and not ambivalent or miserable during that time. If your home is the only place where you can be satisfied, you need to rethink your professional life. 
  4. Remember your work is something that you will be doing for a long time, until retirement. So, your job must possess viability for at least thirty years. Now, it so happens that Computers is such a field that no one knows in which trajectory the whole area will take. So, you have to upgrade your knowledge and skill along the way.
  5. Your career should compliment your lifestyle. If you do not want to spend the rest of your life sitting at a desk and typing away at code, have a rethink on the career choice. Perhaps, you could do it for five years and no more. So, choose a career accordingly.
  6. How to choose a new career? The choice should be based on your personality and strengths. While still at school, do a couple of SWOT analysis or take some personality tests to find out what you would like to work at. 
  7. The job should be able to sustain you. Sometimes, this may be counter-intuitive to working on your passion, but in the end, you have to make a living from your job. Try your passion out for five years, and if it fails, consider it a done deal. 
  8. Always try to find out what the work environment is like before you join. You need to be able to make friends and associate with your colleagues in a positive, affirming manner. There are some workplaces, which shall remain nameless, that make even the strongest men cry. Avoid working for those companies. 

These tips can be extremely helpful while preparing for FAANG interviews.

Conclusion

How to choose your career is quite often a make or break decision. But it does not have to be. In reality, people trip and fall and pick themselves up. They also try out different careers and only in rare cases are there are no hitches in the career graph of a person. Mentally prepare yourself for these hitches and try to make the best out of your professional life. Enjoy each moment!