How do I know what career is right for me?
It’s a question as career coaches we hear often and I can understand why it is being asked of us. I can relate to the times in my life when I’ve felt ‘stuck’ – uncertain about what course of action to take. It happens to us all – be it as a student or elsewhere in life. We feel stuck because we’re lacking information. We don’t know what we don’t know. We’re fearful of that. We often want someone to just give us the answer…. it’s easier that way, right?
Maybe it is… but the easiest way is not always the best way for us.
This article sets out to ease the burden of that question a little for you, to help you to raise your own self-awareness and in doing so help you to identify a career that may fit for you. So let us take a look…
1. Knowing yourself
How much do you know you? I mean really know you! The whole idea of self-awareness is a life- long journey and often one of the most challenging of times for us in that journey is when we are in early adulthood and we are about to embark upon the world of work. Up to this point in our lives, we’ve had the security of education and with that often the support of our parents (be it financially and/or emotionally) during that time. But as we’re steering towards the end of our time in higher education, we begin to feel the pressures of responsibility creeping in. We know that life will begin to change for us very soon and that we need to start taking control over how it will shape out for us.
So as you’re considering your future career path from university, I’d encourage you to take some reflection time and work through the questions below. Allow yourself to take one question at a time and delve deep into your thought process in order to get really clear on what sits beneath for you. You could even use a pen and piece of paper – jot some notes or draw some imagery. Whatever appeals to you and helps you to connect to the answers that fit for you.
In that reflection I’d like you to consider:
- Yourself – your character, your personality. Are you more outgoing or more reserved? Are you more interested in task completion or are you more interested in the people who are involved? Figure out the things that make you tick.
- Your interests – What type of things interest you? What do you like about your university work, work experience or life in general? What do you dislike? What motivates you in your work and what demotivates you?
- Your strengths and weaknesses – What do your friends and colleagues say about you? What are you good at and maybe not so good at? What comes naturally and what do you find a little more challenging?
- Your values – What are your personal values? The things that are important to you in life. The areas that you are passionate about – be it positively or negatively. Those things that you could talk about all day to someone and those things that perhaps fire you up with anger when someone challenges your perspective.
- Your vision – Where have you always dreamed of your career going? What do you wish to be doing in 5 years from now? What are your short-term, medium- term and long-term aspirations for work and for your personal life?
- 你自己 – 你的性格，你的个性。你是比较外向还是比较内向？你对完成任务更感兴趣还是对参与的人更感兴趣？找到属于你的答案。
- 你的兴趣 – 你对什么样的事情感兴趣？你喜欢学校作业，工作经验或者生活的什么？你不喜欢什么？在工作上什么比较能激励你？
- 你的优点和不足 – 你的朋友和同事是怎么评价你的？你擅长做什么？有什么是不那么擅长的？有什么是你得心应手的？有什么是你觉得具有挑战的？
- 你的价值观 – 你的个人价值观是什么？在生活中什么事情对你很重要？你热爱的事情 – 无论是积极的或者消极的。那些你可以跟别人谈论一整天的事情，还有那些当有人挑战你的观点时可能会激怒你的事情。
- 你的愿景 – 你梦想的职业生涯是怎样的？你想在五年后做什么？你对工作和生活的短期，中期和长期的期望是什么？
2. Knowing business
Now that you’re a little clearer about yourself, it should start to become easier to identify which roles, which businesses and ultimately which career would suit you best. But before you start making decisions, it’s important to make sure you do some research. You want to make sure you fully understand what business is like before assessing whether you’ll fit in a particular area/field.
Spend some time researching:
- Industries of interest to you, professions that are jumping out and roles that are available within those professions. I’d encourage you to look at the professional bodies in the UK that might be able to provide you with some insight. E.g. CIMA, CIM, CIPD, CILT, Find out what the chartered body is in the industry that is of interest to you and what it can tell you about careers in those industries.
- Companies – find out information about companies in the industry area you are interested in and explore the types of people that are employed in those organisations. You can do this by exploring company websites, researching business news (e.g. Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, Forbes) and talking to people (network at events, talk to professional people, recent graduates).
- 你感兴趣的行业。我推荐你参考一下英国的专业机构，可能会给你提供一些想法。例如：CIMA, CIM, CIPD, CILT, CIPS等。了解一下你感兴趣的行业里有什么特许机构，并且可以从中获得什么关于行业的有用信息。
- 公司 – 找到你感兴趣的行业领域的公司信息，并研究一下他们的雇员类型。你可以通过公司网站，商业新闻（例如哈佛商业评论，金融时报，福布斯）以及与人交谈（社交活动，与专业人士交谈，刚开始工作的毕业生）来获取这些信息。
3. Finding the match
Now with a little information about yourself and about the industry, you can bring those areas of knowledge together to help you choose a career that you feel would fit. I’d encourage you to do this based on your research of both yourself and of business. Once you’ve decided, test yourself on your selection with exploratory questions…what is it about that career, that industry, that sector that appeals to you? How do I feel when I imagine myself working there? Do employees share similar values to you? Does the industry share the same motivations and passions as you? Can you see yourself comfortably fitting in to that industry without compromise of who you are?
For some people this can be straightforward exercise and for others it might take more exploration. I’d encourage you to be comfortable with that. With each step forward you will gather more information and so this will continually evolve for you. You may find yourself visiting Step 1 and 2 many times over. That’s ok.
One point worth considering is the idea of ‘knowing’ what career is right for you. Something as a society we put a lot of pressure on students to confirm. And it can cripple people. The thing is you’ll never be absolutely certain about which career is right for you. There is no one answer – no absolute perfect fit. Reflecting on this reminds me of the Salvador Dali quote “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” and it’s a quote that I find applies to career choices as it does to many things in life.
Whilst our career decisions today are important for us today, the future of work is forever evolving and whilst we like to have a plan, we often don’t know what jobs will exist in the future and how our career paths will unfold. So for now, I’d encourage you to take a decision, a conclusion that feels right for you, right now and remember that life evolves, business evolves and your career will evolve. You’ll gain valuable experience whichever path you choose.
“知道”到底什么职业适合自己，是非常值得考虑的一个问题。但问题是，你永远无法绝对的肯定哪个职业是适合你的，没有一个单一的答案 – 没有绝对的完美契合。这让我想起萨尔瓦多·达利的一句话：“不要担心你会对完美产生恐惧，因为你永远无法达到完美。” 我发现这句话不仅适用于职业选择，同样也适用于生活中的很多事情。