It’s hard enough making a career change when you think you know what you’d rather be doing but what if you have no idea? Here are five ways/resources to help you discover a fulfilling career path more efficiently and quickly.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a kid, I had lofty career goals.
First, I wanted to be a ballerina, then an airline stewardess, a spy, an actress and a slew of other romanticized jobs. I never considered the economic consequences of these jobs, let alone if they would make me happy.
Then you Grow up, and things change!
While at University, I took a less romanticized approach to my career planning.
I chose Economics as my major. Not because I had any particular love for Economics, but because I thought it was practical, prudent and could help me land a well-paying corporate job after graduation. It seemed like a good idea at the time based on the information I had about the workforce- which was close to nothing.
Six years into my career, I was making a good living, working mainly in corporate finance and accounting, but I felt unfulfilled.
I was determined to get out of corporate finance. In my gut, I knew that if I didn’t at least try to make a career change, I might eventually loathe my job and regret not trying. The problem was, I had no idea what other jobs I could do.
My career change mistakes and successes
My career change strategy was pretty simple. I needed to find a job or career where I could use my transferable skills: my talents, abilities and experiences in a new career that was more fulfilling. Coming from a corporate finance and accounting background, I had strong analytical skills, was great at reporting and reconciliation and had an eye for numbers.
I searched the web for jobs using keywords such as “analytical” and was really interested in web marketing. Unfortunately, without direct experience, no one would hire me. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started an eBay business I could run from home to teach myself some of the skills I thought I might need.
You can read a little more about my career changes here, but to make a long story short, after a year, I found a market research position for a Silicon Valley startup called Auction drop. That was my first career change and my first job outside of finance.
When that company went under and laid everyone off, I thought, why not make another career change? I landed a job as a web traffic manager at a company called Claria (formerly known as Gator). I then transferred to a database marketing analytics position analyzing user data and learned SQL.
Fifteen years and a few career changes later, I’ve figured out a thing or two about finding my ideal career change, mainly from trial and error. I’m no expert by any means, but I learned from those mistakes.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Although it wasn’t planned, each career change I made was a stepping stone.
It wasn’t linear, more like a zig-zag career path journey that would eventually lead me to my ideal career and job in digital marketing or web marketing, as some like to call it.
This job combined many of my interests, passions, talents and transferable skills one
I no longer work a corporate desk job, and now my full-time job is this blog, which helps pay my bills. I don’t need a physical inventory. I can do my job anywhere, including remotely from France, as long as I have a computer and an internet connection- perfect for my wanderlust heart and lifestyle.
Looking back, I probably could have found my ideal job and made a career change faster had I done a few things differently, but that’s neither here nor there.
Your career change path may look completely different, but “all roads lead to Rome.”
Five ways to find your ideal career path or the perfect job when you have no idea what to do
A career change can take time, but you can considerably shorten that length of time by doing a bit of self-reflection. Take it from me- you don’t want to skip this step, especially if you’re unsure what new career path you want to take.
It can save you the headache of mistakenly choosing a new career you thought you would enjoy only to discover it doesn’t match your lifestyle, goals, interests, or abilities.
If I had to do it all over again, and time was of the essence, here are some of the tools and resources I would use to find the best career path for me.
1) Take a test to see what jobs will make you the happiest
When you take a career test or personality test (also known as a psychometric test), certain factors are considered to determine the jobs best suited for you: your ambitions, life goals, motivations, self-reported skills, personality type etc.
These factors get mashed together, and out comes a list of “best potential careers” for you to sift through and choose for further research.
Unfortunately, psychometric assessment tests cannot tell you which single job is “THE BEST ONE.” Remember, you may be suited for several different careers. It’s up to you to figure out from the list which, if any, is the best match for you.
There are so many tests to choose from, but here are two to get you started.
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Personality tests that you can take right now.
2) Work with a career coach/counsellor
In addition to or instead of taking a career assessment or personality test, you could work one-on-one with a career coach. Before you scoff at the idea, think about this.
Even the best golfers like Tiger Woods need an expert coach for continued improvement. Similarly, a career coach can help you improve your efficiency in searching for that perfect career change or job by providing expert advice on how to plan your career change.
A career counsellor can also guide you in making an action plan, deal with the emotional side of a career change, boost your confidence, re-define your career goals and recommend courses or training you might need. These are all things that a career test or personality test can’t do or can’t do as well.
When choosing the best career coach, make sure you choose one that is experienced and trained. Expect to pay anywhere from 100 to 500 dollars per session. Yes, it is pricey; however, when you think of the long-term ramifications- happiness in your future job vs staying in a position that you are not well suited for or one that makes you unhappy, it might be worth it for some individuals.
3) Research your potential jobs
Once you’ve discovered the best possible career matches, you’ll need to do some practical research about those jobs.
Here are some ideas to help you learn more about potential jobs and careers.
- Interview other people who are in the job role you want to do.
- Job Shadow someone who is in the role you want to do.
- Search career websites for more information about the job you’re looking into. You can discover things that career tests and coaches can’t tell you about salary, job culture, training etc.
- Take some courses to see if you enjoy the subject matter. For example, if you want to become a programmer, take an online programming class. Linkedin Learning which is the new Lynda.com has an array of excellent online training from business and marketing to coding and more. It costs about USD 19 per month. The self-paced courses are professionally done and conducted online.
- Read career change websites. www.careershifters.com is an excellent place to start. They have an online community where you can talk with other career changers and get moral support.
www.learnhowtobecome.org is another good site for career research. All you need to do is enter your desired career, and it tells you a little about that job, salary range, education or training required etc.
- Find out what, if any, further training you would need to complete. Certain careers may require obtaining a master’s degree, which might be off-putting or a deal-breaker and help you rule out specific careers.
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4) Training or continuing education
Through your research, you’ve discovered the best careers for you. You narrowed down that list to a few possible choices. Now it’s time to figure out if you need any additional training or certification?
If your current skill set is transferable, you may not even need any training.
If you do need some additional training, ask yourself:
- Can you afford the training program?
- How long is the training?
- Will you need to take a career break to pursue additional training, or will you keep your day job and go to class at night?”
- Can you do the training online?
- Can you get on-the-job training by taking a lower-level job or entry-level job and use it as a stepping stone? I found this method practical for me when I couldn’t afford to take time off work to get official training.
5) Take action
Hopefully, after all the self-reflection and research, you’ve narrowed down your list to one, maybe two careers. Now is the time to take action- any action big or small.
- Have you updated your resume?
- Did you update your social media profile on Linkedin?
- Did you network with your peers and let them know you’re looking for work?
Don’t let information overload give you analysis paralysis. It’s more important to get things moving because your path may not be linear, but rather, one big zig-zag like mine was.
Other things to consider
No one should choose their next career change exclusively from online tests or others’ advice, but they are useful tools for discovering if you’re well suited for that career change or not.
Not to mention, it can be illuminating to get career suggestions that you might not have thought of yourself.
In the end, you have the final say in how to determine the best career path you want to take for your unique set of circumstances.
Good Luck and stay strong.