How To Find The Best Career For You

Find out how to research careers that interest you to find those that are a good fit for your personality, skills and education.

Lots of us have ideas about career change. We daydream about that perfect job, imagining how happy we would be doing something different than our current position. However real career change requires research and planning to find a career that is really right for you. Such research starts with two steps. The first is to consider what appeals to you and the second is to consider what your skills are and where they could best be put to work.

Start by brainstorming, talking with someone you trust or writing down the ideas that come to you in a special file or notebook. Don't judge what comes up. Just let the ideas flow freely. You may want to do this for a period of time for several days, as you will find that beginning to let the ideas out stimulates more inspiration. There are lots of books available which can help you with this process. The classic is the venerable "What Color is your Parachute", which has been through numerous re-writes and still has good ideas to offer. The idea behind the brainstorming process is that if you do what you love, the money will follow. However, it's important to use common sense. If you hate working with numbers, then a career in engineering or even financial planning is probably not a good fit for you, no matter how glamorous your imagination makes it appear.

The next step is to take a look at your skills. What kind of education have you already received? What kinds of work have you already done? Don't limit yourself to work for which you've been paid. Volunteer work and work performed in the home count as a way of developing skills.

Remember that if you have a strong urge to work in an area where you don't have a lot of skill, there may be a way to bring your work skills to bear as an entering wedge. Accountants need receptionists, engineers need administrative assistants, and medical offices need file clerks. Taking an entry-level position in such a business while going to school or otherwise developing your skills is one way to see what you actually think of working in such an environment.

Another issue to consider is that many jobs actually involve a combination of skills. A cook in a restaurant needs to be able to read recipes, work efficiently and accurately measuring ingredients and use tools and techniques properly. A cook also needs to meet the various standards and criteria of the business for which she works, making sure that the restaurant or chain's health standards are met, that waste is properly disposed of, and that food is presented attractively. She needs to be strong and flexible to lift and carry heavy containers, and be able to stand on her feet for long periods of time.

She should also have good teamwork and social skills to get along with the others working in the kitchen as well as the wait staff or servers who will take the food to the customers. So in addition to having a sensitive palate and the gift of understanding what tastes good, a cook needs a thorough understanding of food preparation and presentation techniques and should be strong and healthy, detail and safety oriented with good social skills.

One way to begin investigating job choices is to take a personality or aptitude test. A range of tests is available through the Internet, schools or job-search support resources such as the One Stop Employment Centers that are available throughout the United States. Most tests will help you determine your personality type and general areas of interest, skills, and aptitudes. They may suggest several types of work suitable to your particular disposition and abilities. Although these suggestions are somewhat general, they may help you get started thinking about what really appeals to you, and what might be a good fit.

Once you have a job in mind it's time to start doing the concrete aspect of job research. Use the library as well as the Internet to find out as much as you can about the educational or other special requirements for the job. For example, if you are interested in Law Enforcement, you may only need to be 18 or 21 years of age with a High School diploma to apply for a position, but you will be required to attend a specialized training academy before you can begin to do the work. If you are interested in some sort of specialized medical or technical career, you may want to start taking general courses in local adult education or college to prepare you for more advanced courses later.

Talk to friends, family and other contacts to locate people who are already doing that kind of work. You can also approach people through

Chamber of Commerce lists or other resources, but be careful to be polite and considerate and to treat those you wish to interview as you would like to be treated. Once you locate someone who is already doing the kind of work which interests you, you can do an informational interview.

In an informational interview, you interview the person about what the job is actually like. You will probably want to prepare a list of questions and take notes on the responses you receive. Don't be shy - ask questions about what really interests you. This is your chance to find out from an insider what a job is really like. If you can find several individuals who are willing to give you informational interviews, you will get a broader perspective. Again, show your respect and appreciation to the interviewee for sharing their time and knowledge with you. You may want to send them a Thank You note as a token of your appreciation.

If you are considering a specialized career such as the law or publishing, you may be able to do an internship or other form of entry level work in an office to get experience and see whether the work is a good fit. The advantage of getting some hands on experience in a work environment is also that you begin to see the various ways in which you can work in a field that interests you. If you are an older worker interested in legal work, you may not want to go to school and take the bar, but becoming a paralegal or legal secretary may put you to work in the legal field.

The more you research a career that interests you, the better you'll be able to evaluate whether it will serve your needs. You'll also discover that there are more options available than you may have realized. Research is the way to find out what's best for you, and it's not only easy to do with all the information resources currently available, it's interesting and fun. So don't stay stuck in work you hate. Start thinking about and researching a range of possibilities until you find work that really suits and satisfies you.

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