When trying to find a career path that’s right for you, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the idea of having the perfect job. In reality, most people have more than one career in their life and take a while to find a job that suits them; data shows that people have around 15 jobs in their lifetime.
So instead of being confused and daunted by finding the perfect career, start small and try to see your career as several steps, rather than a single destination. It’s essential to find the balance between the bigger picture of your working life and what you will find fulfilling in the short term. We have put together five questions to help you work out what’s right for you now and how that could form part of a larger career:
Five questions to ask yourself when thinking about careers
What are my skills?
A really simple and useful place to start is thinking about what you are good at. By working out your skills, you are in a better position to see where you could apply yourself. When thinking about your skills, don’t just focus on work or education-related skills. Think about your hobbies, what kind of friend you are, what people ask you for help with? These kinds of skills are as important as any other.
What do I want for my life outside of work?
It may seem counter-intuitive to think of your life outside of work when trying to plan your career, but deciding what else is a priority in your life is an excellent way to work out what you want from a job. For example, if you know that travel is a priority in your life, you can think about what careers might include that, or what careers would allow you to do that. Or if you are keen on finding a community of like-minded people, you know that a job with other passionate people is right for you.
What kind of environment do I want to work in?
The answer to this question can be a relatively simple one. It’s about working out where and how you want to spend your days during your working life. Some people know they need to be surrounded by other people to succeed. In contrast, others are more suited to working alone. You may want to think about whether you want to work outdoors, or in a city, or the public sector, or whether owning your own business is better for you.
What is important to me in my life right now?
Asking yourself what you value and what is important to you is a great way to work out the path you want to take in your career. It doesn’t matter if these things change over time, they most definitely will, but it can help you know what parts of your life you want to reflect in your work. Some people want a continually stimulating and challenging career, whereas others want one that helps and gives back to others. Or maybe ensuring you are financially comfortable is what is important to you.
Do I have any long-term goals?
While you don’t need to plan out every step you will take in your working life; it can be a good idea to zoom out and think about what you want for your career in the long term. This can help you focus on a direction you want to follow, even if those goals change over time. A goal might be that you want to continue learning and training throughout your career or want to have a family and a career.
If you are a student and graduate trying to work out which path to follow, then visit our guide to career paths for information and advice.