What is a career?
This is a question that many people ask themselves at some point in their lives. A career can be many things – it can be your job, your profession, or your passion. In this blog post, we will discuss what a career is and how you can find the best one for you!
We will also provide tips on how to make the most of your career and achieve success. So, whether you are just starting out in your career or looking to change paths, read on for helpful advice!
A Career vs A Job
A career is not the same as a job. A job is simply a way to earn money, whereas a career is a lifelong journey that includes many different jobs. When you are thinking about your career, it is important to consider what you want to do with your life and how you can make a difference.
There are many different types of careers, so it is important to find one that suits your skills, interests, and values. For example, if you are good with people and enjoy helping others, a career in social work could be a good fit for you!
Focus on the long term
Choosing a job is always a temporary choice. Jobs change all the time, and you may find yourself unemployed or working in a field that is not fulfilling. A career, on the other hand, is something you can focus on for the long term. When you are thinking about your career, it is important to consider where you see yourself in five or ten years.
This can be difficult to do, but it is important to think about your goals and what you want to achieve. If you are not sure what you want to do with your career, there are many resources available to help you figure it out. You can speak with a career coach, take career assessments, or conduct informational interviews with people in careers that interest you.
Find a mentor
One of the best ways to learn about a career is to speak with someone who is already working in that field. mentors can provide you with insight into what a particular career is really like and whether it would be a good fit for you. Mentors can also offer guidance and advice on how to achieve success in your chosen career.
If you do not have a mentor, there are many ways to find one. You can reach out to your network of family and friends, or you can search for mentors online. There are also many professional organizations that offer mentorship programs.
How to choose the right career for me
This certainly depends on your personal situation and where you are in life. The process for choosing a career is different for a teenager than it is for a 40 year old.
For example, if you are a teenager, you may not have much work experience to go off of. In this case, it is important to consider your interests, skills, and values. You can also speak with family and friends, teachers, or career counselors to get their input.
If you are an adult who is looking to change careers, you may have more work experience to consider. In this case, it is important to reflect on what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about your previous jobs.
But either way, there are 5 universal steps that anyone can use to start exploring a new career regardless of their position.
The 5 Universal Steps
1) Define what you don’t want from a career
It’s much easier to identify what you really don’t want in any job or career than it is to be inspired with new ideas. In fact, what you don’t want can often point to what you do want. So start with the negatives.
Make a list of the career paths you would never want to take. This should include both the job title and the company or industry you would be working in. For example, “I don’t want to be a salesperson at a car dealership.”
Some things to consider here are:
- The type of work you would be doing
- The environment you would be working in
- The people you would be working with
- The company’s values
- The location
- The hours
- The salary
Once you have your list, take a close look at it and see if any patterns emerge. Do you notice that you don’t want to work with certain types of people? Or in certain types of environments? Or that you’re only interested in certain types of work? These are all clues that can help you figure out what you do want from a career.
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For example, if you notice that you don’t want to work with people, this could be a sign that you would prefer a career that is focused on independent work. Or, if you notice that you don’t want to work in a traditional office environment, this could be a sign that you would prefer a career with more flexible hours or one that allows you to work from home.
2) Rank your personal needs by priority
You’ve listed things you don’t want. Now it’s time to list out your personal needs. These are the things that you need from a career in order to be happy and fulfilled. You can use your negative list for guidance and inspiration.
Think about your needs in a few different categories:
- Work/life balance
- Flexible hours
- Paid time off
- Advancement opportunities
Once you have your list, rank each need in order of priority. For example, if you absolutely need to have flexible hours in order to manage your personal life, then that would be ranked as a top priority.
After you’ve ranked your personal needs, take a look at your list and see if there are any patterns. Do you notice that you have a lot of needs related to work/life balance? Or that you need to be in a certain location for personal reasons? These are all clues that can help you figure out what you do want from a career.
For example, if you notice that you have a lot of needs related to work/life balance, this could be a sign that you should look for a career with flexible hours or one that allows you to work from home. Or, if you notice that you need to be in a certain location for personal reasons, this could be a sign that you should look for a career with opportunities in that location.
3) Try to uncover your transferable skills
Now that you have your ideal list, it’s time to take a deeper look at yourself and the value you could bring to potential employers. Your value is mostly going to be tied to your skills. But there are different types of skills. There are skills that are industry-specific and there are transferable skills.
Industry-specific skills are the skills that you need to do a specific job in a specific industry. For example, if you want to be a doctor, you need to have the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses. If you want to be a lawyer, you need to know how to research and argue cases.
Transferable skills are the skills that you can use in any job or industry. These are the skills that make you who you are as a person. For example, if you’re a good listener, this is a transferable skill that can be used in any career. If you’re good at problem solving, this is a transferable skill that can be used in any career. Negotiating or influencing is another transferable skill.
Transferable skills are also usually “soft” skills, not hard vocational skills. This helps young people who may not have lots of prior work experience as you could have developed good soft skills from your personal life. For example, if you feel like you have developed influencing skills in your personal life, and you can point to specific examples of when you have done so, then write that down as a valuable skill.
4) Brainstorm any and all future career possibilities
Now it’s time to bring it all together and start to think of as many potential options as possible. Your ideas could be small ones, big ones, silly ones, crazy ones, or anything in between. The goal at this stage is just to get as many ideas out there as possible.
You can use your list of needs, your list of skills, and your understanding of what you don’t want to help generate career possibilities that might work for you.
For example, if you need flexible hours, then brainstorm careers that would allow you to have flexible hours. If you need to be in a certain location, brainstorm careers that would allow you to work in that location. If you don’t want to work in an office, brainstorm career options that would allow you to work outside of an office.
The sky’s the limit at this stage, so don’t hold back. The task is to create as big a list as possible that you can then filter down to focus on a select few using all the steps so far.
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5) Set your deadlines & start reaching out
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By this point you should have a list of many small or big ideas, with a few that are interesting to you and standing out. It’s time to set some deadlines about what you want to do next and begin your job hunt.
This means starting to reach out to companies, apply to job listings, or attend career fairs and networking events. Anything that gets you closer to your goal of finding the right career for you is a good use of your time at this stage.
You might also want to start researching specific companies and industries that interest you. This will help you learn more about what working in those areas would be like and whether they would be a good fit for you.
The most important thing is to get started and not wait around. The sooner you start, the sooner you will find the career that’s right for you.
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Naomi is the founder of Tribe And Seek and an EMCC and CIPD accredited career and performance coach. She has coached people from a variety of backgrounds and industries, from graduates to senior executives.
Naomi was also the first in-house learning and development lead at the HR consultancy Lane4 (the leading L&D consultancy in the UK). She worked alongside olympic athletes to support clients like Kraft Heinz and TUI to develop their senior leaders. She also designed training at the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award for both young and adult leaders.
No stranger to change, Naomi left a previous career in international development consulting behind and also fully overcame an accident that broke her neck.