I recently read a study from LinkedIn that found Millennials will change jobs at least four times before they reach 32. And what’s more, according to CNN, they “don’t just change jobs, they often switch into entirely different industries.”
With these kinds of statistics, it’s probably safe to assume that you too will at least contemplate a job or career change sometime in your life. (Perhaps you already have!)
Now admittedly, the prospect of changing careers can be quite daunting. What career should you choose? How do you know it is the right choice? Where should you start looking? How can you turn your passion into a career?
Well good news – today I have six questions for you to consider to help you ease these very concerns. So whether you’re starting out in the workforce or you’re simply ready for a change, read on. Because these questions will help you choose a career you love.
How To Choose A Career You Love
Find an Industry/Sector/Skill You Enjoy
While this might seem like a no-brainer to some, I know a few people who went into the wide world of “business” simply to make money. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re passionate about business and you want to make money, that’s great! Go for it! If money is the sole driver behind your career decision, however, you might want to reconsider.
Case in point, those friends who entered the corporate world 10 years ago – though they are making good money – have completely lost interest in the job. The excitement they once felt from the paycheck is gone, and the job no longer offers a sense of fulfillment.
So if you’re contemplating a new position, first take some time to consider what you enjoy and where you excel. Do you have great people skills? Are you incredibly organized? Are you a whiz at spreadsheets and data management? Do you love to teach?
By considering your skills and preferences, you’re taking the first step in narrowing down your options. And this puts you one step closer to choosing a career you love.
Highlight Your Priorities
While highlighting your priorities is a critical step, it’s also quite a challenging one. You see, it’s so easy to adopt the priorities of others around you; in fact, it can happen without you even realizing it.
If the majority of your colleagues make work their #1 priority, for example, and they enjoy coming to the office early and staying late each day, it’s easy to get swept up into that mentality. Even if you don’t love the extended hours, it starts to feel like this “should” be your priority nevertheless.
Similarly, there are those universal priorities in almost every career regarding working toward seniority, climbing the corporate latter, and doing whatever’s necessary to make the most money.
Well, guess what? Not everyone shares these priorities. And you don’t have to either. While your other career goals might result in getting a raise or a new title, these “standards” don’t have to be your primary concern.
So ask yourself this: “What are my priorities right now?” Whether it’s managing work-life balance, finding colleagues you enjoy, having more time for your family, or making a difference in people’s lives, every option is fantastic. The important thing is simply recognizing what your objectives are so you can find a career that fulfills those needs. (And if it turns out your priority is climbing the corporate ladder, that’s great, too! The key is knowing yourself.)
Choose Employers That Care About You
Being choosey about your employer is an easy component to overlook – especially if you’ve been on the market a while; following an extended search, it’s tempting to accept the first offer that comes your way.
If possible, however, do some research before signing the contract. Remember, your employer can greatly impact how much you enjoy your job.
I’m guessing you’ve had an experience or two with less-than-stellar management; I know I have! But hopefully you’ve had some positive situations as well. I recommend keeping both in mind as you consider your next position, and do some research on the company before accepting an offer.
What is the employee turnover rate? How do the current staff feel? What are their biggest complaints? Fortunately, there are resources out there like Glassdoor, which lets you know how current and past employees feel about their work experience. Take advantage of the free service and check out what others are saying!
In addition to finding that great employer, there are also things to consider about the job itself. Pay scale is perhaps the most obvious, but you should also think about health and retirement benefits, maternity/paternity leave, room for growth, and the workplace culture.
Google is famous for providing incredible work benefits for their employees: free meals and free cooking lessons, on-site massage therapists, education subsidies, free shuttles to and from work, the list goes on and on. (Hey Google, are you hiring?) Similarly, some of the top health and wellness companies offer support through mindfulness classes, stress management resources, unlimited personal time off etc.
So as you explore potential jobs, make sure you’re considering what your employer can do for you.
Consider Your Preferred Work Pace
Do you need a job that’s constantly changing? Alternatively, do you want a position that maintains consistency and predictability each day? Like the previous questions, there’s no right or wrong answer here. The important thing is simply knowing yourself.
I’m a creature of habit, so going to the same office and having a consistent schedule each day brings me comfort. I enjoy it. With that being said, I know several other people who would pull their hair out from boredom at the thought of such repetition.
So take some time to think about what type of pace you want from your career. Where will you thrive? Do you need a position that involves travel to new locations? Does your dream job include different responsibilities depending on the day?
As you consider this question, also consider company size. For example, working in a large established company vs. a small startup demands very different things; the former often focuses on one specialized skill from each employee, while the latter requires a wider range of responsibilities to help establish the business.
What Did You Love As A Child?
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I find a lot of value in reflecting upon our childhood dreams. Doing so helps us recall what we once loved before #adulting got in the way.
So as you search for your ideal career, take some time to consider your childhood dreams. Did you want to be a writer or a teacher? Perhaps you loved to “invent” things or conduct science experiments. Consider these interests carefully; they provide valuable information that helps point you toward your ideal position.
(For more information about exploring your childhood dreams, as well as journal prompts to help you dig deeper into the question, see my post here.)
Learn New Skills
If you want to start a new path, but you’re unsure of where to begin, it may be time to explore a bit. Try learning new skills in your field of interest; this allows you to “test the water” without diving in head first. Take a class or a workshop, watch online tutorials, or simply experiment with your interest on a small scale; it’s a great way to discover what speaks to you.
Congratulations! You’re taking the first (and often scary) step toward choosing a career that you love. Yes, it’s risky. But it also offers so much potential for happiness and satisfaction. As you embark on this journey, challenge yourself to recognize your skills, highlight your priorities, consider your preferred work environment, reflect upon your dreams, and learn new skills. By taking the initiative, you’ll be on your way to building a career you love.
Want some extra help finding your perfect career? Download this free workbook, which guides you step-by-step through the process!
Have you had a career change recently? What advice would you give to someone changing jobs or careers? What type of work environment is best for you? Let me know below!