Whether you are a student, recent graduate, or unhappy employee, everyone comes to a crossroad in their life when it’s time to decide “What career is best for me?”
With so many options, making a decision can be overwhelming, especially if this is you first job. Aside from taking one of the career quizzes you can find online, you can answer these 4 easy questions to decide what career path is best.
Keep in mind that you will need to come back to this time and time again, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Besides lawyers and doctors, I have yet to meet anyone who has stuck to one career throughout their entire life, so you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be stuck with your first choice forever.
Question #1: What is your personality type?
What is your personality type? Take some time to figure this out. If you want in depth answers, you can take a classic personality assessment, like the Myers Briggs type indicator. To keep it easy though, I’ll walk you through a few different personality types and what that means for your career.
Introvert vs Extrovert
This one is widely confused. Many people think introverts are quiet bookworms and extroverts are social butterflies, but this is not entirely true.
Extrovert – The definition of an extrovert is someone who gets energy from being around others. Think of it like this… When you are in a social situation, say at a party or a meeting, do you feel energized the more you talk and interact with people? Or do you feel tired afterwards and drained of energy? If it’s the first option, then you are an extrovert. Extroverts could head to a party feeling exhausted, but as soon as they are engaged in conversation, their energy spikes up. They feed off of the energy from the people around them and they prefer to be with others, rather than alone. If you are an extrovert, people-oriented roles will be ideal for you. Positions like sales, customer service, recruiting, and event planning will give you the human interaction you need to keep your energy up.
Introvert – The definition of an introvert is someone that feels drained after being around others. Don’t get this confused though… An introvert can still be a popular, social butterfly, they just need to regularly spend time alone to resource their energy battery. Do you feel tired after a certain amount of social interaction? Do you enjoy regularly spending time alone? If so, you are most likely an introvert. Introverts will perform better in positions with a moderate to limited amount of social interaction. Positions that are independent, rather than team oriented, will be ideal. Introverts should avoid positions that are extremely customer-focused, because even though they might be fun at first, you will most likely get burnt out quickly.
Creative vs Pragmatic
Creative – Do you spend your time daydreaming? Are you constantly coming up with crazy off-the-wall ideas? Are you artistic by nature? Then you have a creative mindset and it’s important to find a job that will let your creative juices flow. For creative-types, traditional, corporate jobs are not ideal. You will be miserable if your responsibility is to perform the same set of tasks over and over again. Instead, look for positions in the music, arts, marketing, or creative fields.
Pragmatic – Do you make to-do lists? Are you always analyzing pros and cons? Do you think things through thoroughly before making a decision? If so, you have a pragmatic mindset and need a career that will match. For the pragmatic-types, positions in analytical fields, like information technology, mathematics, data analytics, science, business, and technology will be best. You have strong problem-solving abilities and need to find a career that will take advantage of that. Your strengths are being detail-oriented and rational, so positions that look for those skills will be best.
Question #2: What do you enjoy doing?
Make a List
Writing out a list of tasks that you enjoy performing in everyday life will help you figure out your ideal job responsibilities.
Here are some examples… Do you enjoy organizing your room? Filling out questionnaires? Drawing/painting? Studying for tests? Being in nature? Daydreaming? Going to the doctor? Grocery shopping? Making to-do lists? Playing video games?
The list could go on and on. Write everything out that you enjoy doing. No task is too silly or too small.
Now it’s time to put these tasks into categories. Look at everything you wrote down and see if there are similarities. Organizing your room and making to-do lists might go under a category called ‘organizing’. While daydreaming and video games could go under a category called ‘creating.
Translate Categories into Responsibilities
Because it would be hard to get hired for daydreaming, look at your overarching categories and figure out what job responsibilities could be similar. Let’s say creating is one of your categories- A job responsibility could be coming up with new innovative marketing strategies or products. Or for an organizing category, filing and organizing could be an ideal job responsibility.
Match Responsibilities to a Career
After writing these ideal job responsibilities out, start brainstorming the types of careers that could match. It might help to ask other professionals, your parents, or teachers if you are having trouble coming up with careers that fit.
The trick here is to start with the job responsibilities and then find a career that fits, rather than the other way around. Too many people start with the job title in mind, because they think it sounds cool, but then figure out later that the actual day-to-day responsibilities aren’t what they had in mind.
Question #3: What are you passionate about?
The next step is to figure out what industry would be the best fit. You can easily do this by brainstorming about things you are interested in or what you are passionate about.
Are you passionate about the environment? Fashion? Economics? Traveling?
What brings true enjoyment from a career is finding an industry and product that you can stand behind. I can’t tell you enough that having a company that you really believe in makes all the difference. Even if a job sounds cool, if you aren’t passionate about what the company is selling, you will quickly burn out.
Here are some matches between industries and passions that could be a good fit.
Tech Industry: Software Development, Computers, Video Games, Virtual Reality
Financial Industry: Accounting, Math, Economics, Real Estate, Investing
Manufacturing Industry: Construction, Building, Modelling, Fashion, Architecture
Healthcare Industry: Dentistry, Brain Sciences, Psychology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Therapy
Legal Industry: Law, Law Enforcement, Ethics
Environmental Industry: Animals, Natural Gas, Sustainable Energy, Traveling
Question #4: Where do you see yourself working?
The last step is to envision where you want to work. Now that you have an idea of the type of job and the industry you are interested in, you need to figure out the type of company you are looking for.
When considering the type of company, there are 2 main factors you need to consider to land your dream job.
Corporate vs Non-Traditional
Corporate – Corporate-style workplaces are traditional and formal. You will have strict work hours, will sit in a cubical or desk, and will have a formal dress code. These corporate-style workplaces are commonplace in the finance, insurance, legal, and healthcare industries. Places like banks, insurance agencies, law offices, and hospitals haven’t changed much in the last 20 years, so you will typically find corporate environments here.
Non-Traditional – Non-traditional workplaces are what we think of when we picture the Silicon Valley tech-giants like Google and Facebook. These workplaces are more casual and flexible, typically allowing you to wear jeans, come in during flexible hours, and have perks like Ping-Pong tables and pizza Fridays. The most common places to find non-traditional companies are in the tech industry, as well as with start-ups.
Small/Medium Businesses vs Large Corporations
SMBs – Working for a SMB (small medium sized business) has many advantages. Because there are fewer employees, you will most likely perform a lot of different tasks, not only the things you were hired for. We refer to this as ‘wearing many hats’. Another advantage is there will be more opportunity for promotions and growth. With growing businesses, new positions are created all the time, so you might be able to take part in creating a new role. It will also pay off big if you join a smaller company that ends up going public. When a company goes through an IPO (initial public offering), their current employees get stock which can turn into a hefty pay-out. That being said, smaller companies, especially startups, have a higher chance to fail. But that is the risk many people take to have a fun, collaborative, and innovative office culture.
Large Corporations – Large corporations are on the other side of the spectrum. Fortune 500s, like Johnson & Johnson or Verizon, are great companies to have on your resume. Everyone knows who they are, and you are automatically awarded some sort of accolades for getting hired at a prestigious organization. These large companies are stable and have low risk for failing. You will have to worry about your entire department getting cut before you worry about the company going under. On the other hand though, working for a large corporation often feels like you are in a box. You are rarely allowed to operate outside of the tasks you were hired for, and because of the number of employees, chances for raises and promotions are much lower.
Now that you know the type of job you want, the industry you love, and the type of company you are looking for, it’s time to start your job search! Just keep going after the career that is best for you and try not to settle until you land it. Years later, you will be happy you did.