Many of my clients want help in finding the perfect career for them. They think that their dream job is out there and they just need to ask the right question or talk to the right person and perhaps like casting the runes or using Harry Potter’s talking hat the ideal job will be identified, but it’s not that simple
Let’s look at the ways people choose their careers
My Dad/ Sister/ Teacher suggested it
Maybe they know you well and can spot your strengths, they can see what is likely to suit you and perhaps if you lack confidence, their knowledge of your abilities and strengths can help provide a great choice.
BUT whether conscious, or not their decisions may focus more on what is important to them rather than you. For example their suggestions are influenced by what they would like to do, perhaps thwarted ambitions. Or they may be risk adverse and want you to have a perceived safe job. Or for some it may be for you to have a career with status.
Listen to other people but it is your life, is their suggestion of a job or career something that you really want to do?
They fell into it
This is the route that many people take. Not sure what they want to do they build a career from their first job. Perhaps starting in retail, being promoted to supervisor, assistant manager … and 20 years on they are in senior management and wondering how they got there.
It’s not a bad way of choosing a career, but it all depends on the first job. I’ve lost count of the number of unhappy accountants, university administrators, hotel managers, sales executives who are unhappy and realise that a different first job could have resulted in a very different future.
A website told them it was a growing profession/industry
The media will write about a shortage of people doing a particular job. In the past the media have written about a shortage of plumbers/ driving instructors/ IT professionals. Sounds great, to retrain into a new and in demand profession.
Alas, many other people have the same idea and this results in a glut of applicants so salary levels fall and there aren’t enough jobs for everyone. For others they hadn’t thought it through and really dislike the travel, working conditions, boredom …
They followed their passion
Certainly we should be interested in the work we do, and for some an interest in sports and fitness can lead to a happy career as a personal trainer, sports psychologist, physiotherapist. Many doctors and nurses have wanted to do this since childhood.
For some they want to keep a passion separate from their work, and keep cooking, painting, sewing, hiking as a means to relax.
Others take something that interests them such as a love of music, art, sport, foreign travel and look for a job within this field. For some it works out, for others they didn’t realise that many of the jobs can be routine. Or perhaps whilst passionate they aren’t ready to put in enough time and energy to become highly proficient. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, states: to become an expert in a field of study, it merely takes 10,000 hour of focus and practice on the topic at hand.
Not everyone has a passion, and that’s absolutely fine.
It’s certainly worth exploring possible career options that match passions, but also to make sure that you have the skill and ability to be a success.
So what is better?
Understand more about yourself. Learn more about your abilities, strengths and personality. As you work on jobs what skills have you enjoyed using and want to continue to use? What jobs match closer with your deeply held values.
My clients will often want to take time to make a career choice, as this is the most important decision we will make. Many will utilise assessments to give them some objective data to help make a career choice.
  • You could start with the Highlands Ability Battery (to really help with a deepened analysis of who you are and the type of work areas that will suit you most) to assess natural abilities which are fundamental to career choice.  Don’t be constrained by skills gained, you can use the results to move into something much more fulfilling or use this to adapt your current job.  This assessment alongside a 90+ minute discussion, (recorded so you can listen to it again), full colour 30 page report, Highlands Explored Reference Book (41 pages), and 1 page of personalised key points. You also get the 10 steps to a job you love eBook (sold at £10, please request this).  I recommend that you also choose the career report which will list the close match job clusters and reasons why.  Finally you get the Next Steps eBook to guide you in how to explore different options.
  • Take the MBTI step 1 to understand your personality. You can use this information to help enhance relationships and also to understand more about how you gather information, make decisions and preferred lifestyle. We then use this information to identify possible careers that match with your personality. £95
  • Take the Strong Interest Inventory to find out what sorts of courses and career people with similar interests to you choose, thus widening out your options.

Denise Taylor is a double award winning career coach and Chartered Psychologist with Amazing People, established in 1998. When you are unsure of your career future, need help with job search or seek to improve your presence in an online world, Denise can help. Denise is the author of 7 books including How To Get A Job In A Recession, Now You’ve Been Shortlisted and Fat to Fantastic
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Published On: February 13th, 2013 / Categories: Career Discovery, Career Management, Students and Graduates /

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