With literally thousands of options open before you when you embark on a career, how do you zero in on one that will be just right for you? The task before you might seem insurmountable but if you put a lot of thought into it and go about it systematically, it will increase the possibility that you will come to a good decision.
Before you can make a career choice, you have to assess yourself. Your personality, fields of interest, soft skills and aptitudes will make you the ideal candidate for a few occupations while others will be totally inappropriate. To go through this process, specialised self-assessment tools are available that generate a list of career choices that will suit you well. You can even consult a career counsellor to help you navigate this process.
Explore career options
When you have narrowed down your career choices that will suit you make a detailed study of each of them. There will be about 10 to 15 of them and so it will not be a huge task for you. Go through job descriptions, advancement opportunities, licensing requirements if any, and further educational and career courses that you may have to take up. Most importantly study the earning potential and job outlook.
At this point you can meet a few people already working in areas that you have shortlisted for yourself. There is nothing better than getting firsthand knowledge. You can also access individuals on LinkedIn with whom you can have these informational interviews.
Identify your goals
Once you have arrived at a decision consider your long term and short term goals. The career chosen by you should match your objectives. Short term goals should take about six months to 3 years to reach while long term goals should be achieved typically in about three to five years. Analyse all that you have gathered from the intensive research carried out. Your short term goals should include college and relevant courses, other training programmes, internships and apprenticeships. Long term goals will have education, training, getting a job or starting a venture and earnings.
Prepare a Career action plan
Just like a business plan that needs to be prepared before starting any venture, a career action plan will be a roadmap of the route that you need to take to reach your goals both in the short and long term. Write down all the goals you plan to achieve and the steps you have to take to reach each one of them. Factor in the barriers to growth that you think might crop up and make an action plan to cross those threats should they arise.
These are just a few guidelines to help you along for making a good and well considered career choice. But life is not always so disciplined and systematic and predictable. While planning out your career always be prepared to make quick course corrections from your chosen path if the circumstances warrant so.