St. Paul University Surigao July 8, 2008 4:30-6:00 PM Career Orientation
How to Make a Career Choice When You Have No Idea What You Want to Do
What is Career Planning?
Career planning is a lifelong process, which includes choosing an occupation, getting a job, growing in our job, possibly changing careers, and eventually retiring.
There are hundreds of career options out there. How do you make a career choice when you don't really know what you want to do?
Does it seem like an insurmountable task? It's not. Yes, you will have to put some time and energy into making your decision, but your effort will be well worth it in the end.
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Career Planning: A Four Step Process
The career planning process is comprised of four steps.
T he first step in choosing a career path is to learn a little more about yourself. What do you like? What is important to you? What are you good at? Before you can find a career that is right for you, you have to know who you are.
Gather information about yourself ( self assessment )
Before you can make a career choice you have to learn about yourself. Your values, interests, and skills, in combination with certain personality traits, will make some careers especially suitable for you and some particulary inapproprate. You can use self assessment tools, often called career tests (e.g. NCAE), to gather this information and, subsequently, to generate a list of occupations that are deemed appropriate. Some people choose to have career counselors or other career development professionals administer these tests.
Figure out where your career interests are by asking yourself:
Where do my interests lie?
What do I do well and enjoy?
What kind of personality do I have?
What's really important to me?
What are my values?
Explore the occupations in which you are interested
Research the industries in which you would like to work
Research the Labor Market
During this phase of the process, you will:
Identify possible occupations
Evaluate these occupations
Choose both a short term and a long term option
You will develop the steps you need to take in order to reach your goal, for example:
Investigating sources of additional training and education , if needed
Developing a job search strategy
Writing your resume
Gathering company information
Composing cover letters
Preparing for job interviews
is to sort out your priorities for a career.
some of your strong preferences may start to emerge. You might learn you don't want to be in an office environment. Or you might find that your interest in art wouldn't sustain a career, so you cross those types of jobs off your list. Whatever it is that you learn about yourself, you're making important discoveries that will help you choose a good career when the time comes.
Most importantly, keep it all in perspective: You don't have to live forever with any career decision you make in these phases of student career planning. Most people change careers several times during their lives, so the first job you choose right after college probably won't be your career 15 or 20 years from now -- unless you want it to be. So don't put too much pressure on yourself to make the perfect decision, and always keep your eyes open.
What do you want to get out of life?
W ork values are those values that relate specifically to the amount of satisfaction we get from our career. But our values pervade all aspects of our life. We don't leave them at the office when our work day is done.
What's Important to You?
E veryone has values . Values are our beliefs and principles about what is really important or worthwhile, and they guide our behaviours and the choices we make throughout life. Our values are influenced by a number of things, such as upbringing, family, home life, culture and education.
What Turns You On?
I t only makes sense that your career will provide more enjoyment and a greater sense of fulfilment if you find the work you do interesting. So it's a good idea to begin your self-exploration by finding out where your interests lie. "What turns you on" is a great start to discovering what is going to make you happy.
Look over the lists of occupations generated through your use of the self assessment tools. They are probably rather lengthy. You want to come up with a much shorter list, consisting of between five and ten occupations. Circle occupations that appear on multiple lists. Circle occupations you may have considered previously and that you find appealing. Write these occupations down on a separate list titled "Occupations to Explore."
Make a List of Occupations to Explore
For each occupation on your list, you will want to look at the job description, educational and other requirements, job outlook, advancement opportunities, and earnings.
How to Explore Careers
Explore the Occupations on Your List
Continue Narrowing Down your List
Pare down your list of possible occupations based on what you learned from your research. For example, you may not be willing to put the time and energy into preparing for an occupation for which an advanced degree is required, or you may consider the earnings for a particular occupation inadequate.
Set Your Goals
(c) Shannon Long / istockphoto.com
By now you should have decided on one occupation you want to pursue. It's time to put a plan in place so you can eventually find a job in that field, but first you will need to set some goals .
Write a Career Action Plan
Now that you have set your goals, you will need to decide how to reach them. A career action plan will help guide you as you pursue your long and short term goals.
Train for Your New Career
It is likely you will have to train for your new career. That could take the form of earning a degree, doing an internship or taking courses to learn some new skills.
Ten Myths About Choosing a Career By Dawn Rosenberg McKay
Do you think you know everything about choosing a career? Many people think they know the right way to go about picking an occupation, but they often wind up choosing a career that is unsatisfying. Here are ten myths of choosing a career along with resources that can help you make an informed decision.
1. Choosing a career is simple
Actually, choosing a career is an involved process and you should give it the time it deserves. Career planning is a multi-step process that involves learning enough about yourself and the occupations which you are considering in order to make an informed decision.
2. A career counselor can tell me what occupation to pick
A career counselor, or any other career development professional, can't tell you what career is best for you. He or she can provide you with guidance in choosing a career and can help facilitate your decision.
3. I can't make a living from my hobby
Says who? When choosing a career, it makes perfect sense to choose one that is related to what you enjoy doing in your spare time, if you so desire. In addition people tend to become very skilled in their hobbies, even though most of the skill is gained informally.
4. I should choose a career from a "Best Careers" list
Every year, especially during milestone years, i.e. the beginning of a new decade, there are numerous articles and books that list what "the experts" predict will be "hot jobs." It can't hurt to look at those lists to see if any of the careers on it appeal to you, but you shouldn't use the list to dictate your choice. While the predictions are often based on valid data, sometimes things change. Way too often what is hot this year won't be hot a few years from now. In addition, you need to take into account your interests, values, and skills when choosing a career. Just because the outlook for an occupation is good, it doesn't mean that occupation is right for you.
5. Making a lot of money will make me happy
While salary is important, it isn't the only factor you should look at when choosing a career. Countless surveys have shown that money doesn't necessarily lead to job satisfaction. For many people enjoying what they do at work is much more important. However, you should consider earnings, among other things, when evaluating an occupation.
6. Once I choose a career I'll be stuck in it forever
Not true. If you are unsatisfied in your career for any reason, you can always change it. You'll be in good company. Many people change careers several times over the course of their lifetimes.
7. If I change careers my skills will go to waste
Your skills are yours to keep. You can take them from one job to another. You may not use them in the exact same way, but they won't go to waste.
8. If my best friend (or sister, uncle, or neighbor) is happy in a particular field, I will be too
Everyone is different and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another, even if that other person is someone with whom you have a lot in common. If someone you know has a career that interests you, look into it, but be aware of the fact that it may not necessarily be a good fit for you.
9. All I have to do is pick an occupation... Things will fall into place after that
Choosing an career is a great start, but there's a lot more to do after that. A Career Action Plan is a road map that takes you from choosing a career to becoming employed in that occupation to reaching your long-term career goals.
10. There's very little I can do to learn about an occupation without actually working in it
While first hand experience is great, there are other ways to explore an occupation. You can read about it either in print resources or online. You can also interview those working in that field.