When it comes to careers, freshers and those early in their jobs are often confused with one big question! How to choose a career path? More importantly, how to choose the right career?
These days you have too many career and job options. Just the thought of choosing a job or career path will quickly get you overwhelmed!
Being a fresh graduate or just 2-3 years in a career, you are full of energy. The sky is the limit for your imagination and expectations. You want to move fast. Earn big money in no time.
This inner desire and impatience can sometimes get you into careers or jobs that you don’t enjoy. You may think, what is the big deal about it? I can always quit the job and find the new one.
But in that case, what about the time and efforts that are getting wasted in your life? When your friends seem to be moving fast on the corporate ladder, is it fun to feel stuck in the wrong place?
The good news is, that you don’t need to go through all these hoops and loops!
All you need is a powerful framework that helps you consistently choose the right job and the career path best suited for you!
So, let us dig in …
What career should I choose?
This question will seem a bit odd to you!
In the early stages of your career, you are full of energy. You are ready for maximal effort.
Being busy, and producing impactful results on the work front feels powerful.
But there can be a feeling of emptiness or subtle boredom. This is your inner voice telling you that something is missing.
You want not just the impact, but also a level of fulfillment in doing what you need to.
You are optimizing not just for remuneration but also for enriching work experience!
In this fast-moving and ever-changing professional world, the biggest change you will see is, that you will have multiple careers!
The modern lifestyle has created this situation alongside powerful technological changes. In the past, our parents had just 1 job or career path for 30+ years of their lives.
In the moderb world, people have started opting for a career change at least once in their professional lives. In the future, you will see many of us doing multiple jobs or careers at once!
This is why “What careers should I choose?” is going to be a more natural concern. See, why we are using the word “careers” instead of just a career!
When you are unclear, your biggest weapon is using enabling questions!
9 Big Questions that bring clarity when Choosing a Career
1. What are my hobbies and interests?
A career is a maze of various jobs and roles you will do over a period of decades if not a few years. Many professionals focus mainly on the money and very less on what they would love to do.
This is a classic career trap that will lead you to an ordinary career full of underperformance.
If you want the best possible career outcomes and earnings for yourself, you want to first focus on what you love doing.
Use simple questions to guide you here.
1. What do I enjoy doing in my spare time?
2. What do I love doing in spite of the motivation of any incentives or rewards?
3. What will I miss the most if I stop doing it?
4. What did I enjoy doing the most in the past that I don’t do anymore?
Even interviewers want to know this about you. So interview questions like “What are your hobbies?” are common. Since, hobbies and interests go hand in hand, it is good to carefully think – What are your areas of interest?
This will also help you in adding hobbies to your resume rather smartly!
2. What do I value in my life?
Each one of us values certain things in our lives.
Stability, security, wealth, adventure, challenge, growth, risk-taking, respect, work-life balance, and social standing are some of the common aspirations. These can be life or career aspirations.
You will find interviewers asking you, “What are your career aspirations?”
You may also have personal values like respect, empathy, tolerance, and comradery.
You will have a satisfying career if the job and the career path align with them well.
3. What are the core traits of my personality?
You will have specific traits, inclinations, and preferences that are specific to your behavior, thinking, or feeling.
Think of the following questions to understand your personality better.
- Collaboration or competition – what drives you more?
- Do you enjoy working alone or in groups?
- Do you tend to lead or do you predominantly follow?
- Are you more of a geek or a people person or both?
- Do you enjoy ideating and thinking or do you prefer to be more hands-on?
- Do you enjoy flexibility more or prefer structured life?
- Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
- Do you focus more on results or processes?
Essentially it is about what makes you tick and what naturally drives you.
Every career path or job is more suitable for a specific personality type.
These questions will give you a direction to choose between various career options in a multitude of professions.
4. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
Your strengths should empower you to deliver big results in the workplace. At the same time, your weaknesses should not hamper your progress in a given role.
This is why interviewers often ask the tough interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?“
You must give some time to do this personal audit. Be honest with yourself when you do it.
Here are a couple of articles that will help you :
Whether you are a fresher or already a few years in your career, these articles will help you learn more about your strong points and shortcomings.
We have also written an extensive article about 200+ Strengths and Weaknesses that you can choose from for an interview. This can be a huge help here for you.
5. How do I handle stress and pressure?
How you handle stress and pressure, can make or break you in almost any career path.
That said, a few jobs need a better ability to handle pressure than others. An honest assessment of your own abilities to deal with stress and pressure can help you choose your career path more wisely.
6. What are my achievements?
Think of where you got some of the best results in your life. Think of the awards, rewards, certificates, and ranks that you achieved.
It will show you the areas in life and work, where you have a natural confidence in your abilities and possibilities.
Interviewers are curious about this. So they tend to ask you, “What are your greatest achievements?”
If you try to write achievements in your resume carefully, you will go a long way in understanding this about yourself.
7. What are my areas of improvement?
There are areas in your life that you genuinely want to improve.
These areas are about your weaknesses or your aspirations. Thinking about them will help you understand 2 things.
1. Which career paths will be super hard for you?
2. Which career paths will grow you the most?
The real question is, will your career path or next job help you to get better? Will it help you build the skills that you desperately want?
Carefully think, “what do I want to learn?”
8. What do I need to learn?
Each career path will demand certain skills and strengths. You want to carefully check what you need to learn to be able to excel in any career.
The kind of entry points or roles that you desire may depend on your education levels too. For example, MBAs are preferred for certain roles where engineers don’t fit.
The remuneration is generally higher for those with higher degrees. Those who have earned their degrees from prestigious institutes, get higher compensation too.
You want your education and learning to back you well in your choice of career.
9. How much do I want to earn?
Being super-rich is not everyone’s dream. Some of us don’t need or want too much wealth.
That said, different career paths tend to bring different levels of remuneration. Jobs in banking and software currently pay the highest. But they also come with different lifestyles and challenges.
Entrepreneurs or business owners may be some of the wealthiest individuals. But they may need to be involved in their ventures 24 by 7.
In general, A successful professional in any field tends to earn very well.
So, the real question is not, “How much do I want to earn?”. It is, “What kind of lifestyle do I want to enjoy?”. You want to think about this one deeply.
So far, we have worked on bringing clarity to your thinking while choosing a career path. Let us use it in the 8-step framework to choose your careers.
8-Step Framework to Choose Your Career Smartly
You want a framework because you want to reduce biases in your decision-making to the lower possible level.
We are discussing how you can decide your career path. This decision has a lifetime impact. This is why instead of insights or tips, we are focusing on a framework.
If you follow the steps carefully, you will make probably the most rewarding decision of your life!
Let us explore the steps.
Step 1 – Know thyself
We covered 9 enabling questions just for this. They make you do a deep dive within.
Use a pen and paper whenever possible. Writing about these questions will 10x your clarity about yourself and your career choice.
By the end of this exploration, you will have a rough idea about the kind of field and roles that will bring the best out of you.
Step 2 – Define your priorities
From your self-audit, you will know what you want the most and what you can live without.
You will realize that there will be things that are “must-haves” for you in your career. Make a list of them.
Once you make a list of them, choose the top 3. These are the expectations that must be satisfied in your career or the next job.
Remember a simple insight – “If you have more than 3 priorities, you have none!” – Jim Collins, Author of good to great
With this step, you become clear about the things, learnings, or experiences that your career must provide.
Step 3 – Define what you deeply want in your next job
Once you are clear on your priorities, it comes to choosing your next job. If you are a fresher, it may well be your first job.
Use the following questions to become clear on factors that help you choose a job opportunity.
- How much minimum that you expect to earn?
- Are you looking for additional benefits that come with the role?
- Should the job be indoors or do you want to travel?
- Do you prefer going to the office or working from home?
- How challenging should the job be?
- What kind of help would you expect at the workplace for your growth and performance?
- What do you expect to achieve at the end of the next 1, 2, and 3 years in the role?
- Do you want fixed or flexible timings?
- Do you expect the employer to allow you to do a side hustle?
Step 4 – Conduct a job search in a structured and disciplined manner
By now, you have a strong understanding of what you want in your next job. It is time to start exploring the job market.
Use various channels to find exciting career opportunities
1. Personal Networks
Reach out to your personal network. Your friends, contacts, acquaintances, relatives, and social groups may refer you to some of the best job opportunities. They know you well and you may have higher trust in their referrals.
2. Career Coaches and Recruitment consultants
These people thrive on building goodwill with employers by connecting them with good candidates.
This means, that most of the effort to find a job opportunity that fits your expectations will be taken by them.
Many interesting jobs never get listed on job sites. This is why this channel is important for you to find exclusive opportunities.
3. Job sites
It gives you tools to quickly narrow your search to jobs that match many of your core expectations.
Use the filters on these sites well.
4. Social Media Sites and Groups
LinkedIn and Facebook are your go-to channels in social media for job hunt.
On LinkedIn, you can use the sections dedicated to job listings. You can also set alerts to be on the top of the latest job openings.
On Facebook, there are thousands of groups dedicated to job openings and recruitment.
Step 5 – Make a List and Prioritize
Maintain a sheet of all the opportunities that you find exciting.
Every week prioritize the top opportunities that you want to apply for. Here you want to carefully go over the core responsibilities and expectations of the job.
Step 6 – Customize your application
Each job opportunity is different from others in subtle ways even if any 2 opportunities look the same.
You can make a powerful first impression if you customize your reach-out message and resume for each of your applications.
It can dramatically impact the possibility of getting an interview call.
Your resume will play a huge role when. you do it!
Check out these 5 Articles that can quickly make your resume look attractive to recruiters!
Step 7 – Prepare well for the interview questions
If you get an interview call, you will face job-specific and behavioral interview questions. They will test you and your knowledge.
Here is a secret – 99% of the candidates never carefully prepare themselves for common interview questions.
These questions seem simple but can be fairly tricky.
The good news is, that just preparing carefully for them can set you apart from 99% of the job applicants!
Use our “Fresher Interview Questions” section which covers this in detail. Even if you are early in your career it will help you immensely.
Step 8 – Keep learning and adding new skills
Your career is never just about your next job. A lot of it is about how much you learn and where you implement it.
If nothing else, your learning and completing of various courses will keep making your resume stronger.
What you learn, how much you learn, and how you learn to learn are probably far more important than the degrees you earn!www.NeedleMover.me
This article provides you with a potent 8-step framework to consistently choose the right career. It will also help you in making the right career moves.
The key is to systematically follow those 8 steps!