6 Simple Steps to Discover Your Ideal Career
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
Don’t quit your daydream
Imagine what it would be like to work in the career of your dreams! Each morning you'd wake up feeling excited and looking forward to going to work. In fact, work just might even seem more like play! Wouldn't that be a nice change?
Have you thought about what your dream job looks like? It's possible that you don't know exactly what your dream career is - you just know that your current job certainly doesn't fit the bill. In this situation, you owe it to yourself to do some serious thinking and discover your true calling.
Rather than dropping everything and plunging forward into the unknown, however, there are ways to ease into a more personally productive path. Before you know it, you could be enjoying your work once again!
Follow these simple steps to discover your dream career:
1. Go after it. If you already know what you truly want to do, you will need to build up the courage to go after it one step at a time.
2. Consider your hobbies. If you're not sure what you'd like to do, it's a good idea to start with your hobbies. Spend some time researching different types of jobs related to your hobbies. What do these people actually do from day to day?
3. Look to your strengths. Another path to find your dream job is to identify your unique talents. Everyone has at least one special talent. Can you turn yours into a career?
Resources for freelancers:
4. Go to a job fair. This is a good way to discover new careers. Even if you need to go back to school for some specialized training, you'll at least get a better idea about the companies that are hiring.
Here are some resources to help you find some local career fairs. As always, do your research and make sure that the companies that are attending the fair are companies of interest to you. A great strategy is to research the companies first and apply for the jobs online before you get to the fair. You will stand out from the other applicants when you let the employer know that you’ve already applied for ABC job and that you just wanted to introduce yourself in person. You can give the recruiter an overview of your background and the reasons you are interested in the job. How is this job aligned with your skills, interests, values, and motivators? What makes this company interesting to you? Since you already applied online, you can ask for additional advice regarding the hiring process, their time line, etc.
5. Complete a career assessment. There are many different career assessment options, including free career tests online. Keep in mind that the free tests aren’t necessarily tested and validated for reliability. If you are serious, it is probably worth the investment to take a validated career test. If you are just dabbling, a free career test may give you a good start. After answering questions about your personality and preferences, you'll receive a list of potential careers that mesh well with your likes and talents.
Sokanu-This is a free, online career assessment test. I like this one because it is very visual, easy to understand and is a great starting point
Here is an article about self-assessment: What should I do with my life?
6. Take a class. While it may cost some money, it's really an investment in your greatest asset - yourself! If you enjoy what you're doing, you can pursue career options in that field. If you don't like the class, you can just move on to something else with no harm done. It’s a great way to explore your options.
A good place to find classes is through professional organizations. Do they have monthly meetings? Most likely. Do they have annual conferences? I am absolutely certain that they do. This is a great way to meet people who are doing the kind of work you are interested in doing and even advise you on the best resources to help you learn the skills you need in the market place.
When it comes down to it, if you're self-aware and know what makes you truly happy, you can find your way to your dream career. It's okay to give yourself time to figure things out. In the end, the efforts you put into your search will all be worth it.