5 Tips to Help You Choose Your Career Path

The Prepped Team

August 5, 2020

4 minutes

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Before you get to the point of preparing for interviews or thinking about upskilling, there’s a step that requires just as much time and effort. Deciding on your career path is never easy. What doesn’t make it any easier is we’re often forced to make these decisions before entering college or university. That’s a lot to ask, especially when research shows that Canadians will change jobs up to 15 times in their lifetime. What we want to do is help you through this process. Understanding that choosing your career is a mix of your skills and interests, we’ve created exercises that we believe can help you get to a sound career decision. And once you make that decision, understand that you can use these exercises to change your mind as your interests grow and change, and your skill set develops and expands.

These simple exercises can help you determine a career path

Here are some simple but effective ways to figure out the best career path for you:

1. Ask yourself questions about your career interests

  • What am I passionate about? — Think about what gets you excited just at the thought of doing it. Don’t necessarily think of work things. Think of what you do in your everyday life that brings you the most joy. When you’ve found that feeling, you know it’s where you’re supposed to be.
  • What are my skills and capabilities? — Passion can only take you so far. If you’re skilled at doing the thing you’re passionate about, then you need to either find ways to improve your skills or think of something else. It’s a good idea to start with what you know you’re good at before deciding to branch off. Prepped has a Skills and Capabilities exercise you can use to get started. You can access the exercise under the Know Your Strengths tab.
  • What are my must-haves in a career? — Think of the ideal career situation. What does it look like? What do you need to make that situation absolutely perfect? List them all down even though perfect doesn’t exist. Once you have that list, though, think about what on that list you absolutely can not do without.

2. Take a career quiz

We know this sounds a little like Buzzfeed, but hear us out! Career quizzes simply provide you with options. Some of these career options you may not have thought about, and that alone makes it worth it. What these quizzes do is ask questions around your personality, your skills and your interests, many of the same questions we suggested in the first point, and make job suggestions based on your answers. They don’t take very long to complete. You can finish one from Job Bank in a few minutes, and when you’re done, you’ll at least have a starting point for what career choices are possible.

3. Make a list of potential occupations that would interest you

Now that you’ve figured out what you’re passionate about and have a better understanding of your skills and the jobs that match your capabilities, it’s time to take the next step. Make a long list of all the potential jobs that interest you. Don’t get too caught up on what you think is possible. This is a dream list, so dream big. Also, you’re thinking of jobs that would interest you, not that you’ll necessarily do forever. What you’re doing right now is building a foundation of possibilities, not making any hard decisions. We’ll get to narrowing down your choices in a bit.

4. Research the occupations

Now you have a fairly long list in front of you. You probably have an idea of what each of these jobs entails, but that’s not good enough. You need to research exactly what these jobs do. What are the salary expectations, what kind of hours does that position typically work, what does the day-to-day typically look like? You can find some of these answers on Google, but for others like what a typical workday looks like, you’ll probably need to make a few calls. Better yet, reach out to your mentor to ask them to put you in touch with people who can give you good answers.

5. Make a shortlist

We’re finally here. You’ve done the research, and now you can finally filter out the jobs that just don’t feel or sound right. You should definitely still keep an open mind. Don’t discount a job just because you don’t think you can get it. This step is about aligning your skills, your passion and your vision of what you want to do with the careers that match. Take your time. It might even be a good idea to run it by friends who know you well and get their opinions.

Let Prepped help you find your career path

The important thing to remember is that your interests and skills will change over time. What you’re passionate about now won’t necessarily be the same a few years into your next job. It’s a good idea to do these exercises every time you feel unsure about your next career move. It will help guide you to an informed decision that is in line with who you are at the time you’re actually making the decision. Sign up for Prepped to gain access to career tools and templates that can help improve your chances of getting a job by up to 6X*.

*Songqi Liu, Jason L. Huang, & Mo Wang (2014). Effectiveness of Job Search Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1009-1041.