Everyone knows how difficult finding the right career can be. While most people talk about the struggle of searching and applying for work, there are others who already have a job but stay only for the sake of having a decent source of income.
If you’re among the latter group, you might find that your work is not as fulfilling as you had hoped. Often, people aren’t able to stick to a single career in their lifetime. Although there are a lucky few who are able to find theirs the first time they try, many still struggle to find the answer to the question: “Which career is right for me?”
Fortunately, there are ways for you to find the right career path. When uncertainty strikes, here are six tips you can try to figure out your career identity:
1. List down your options
Whether you have a specific dream job in mind or not, getting there may not be a walk in the park.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you look at things more clearly. If you feel overwhelmed by all the options available to you, it will help to list all of them down. Then, carefully sort through your list, and weigh the pros and cons of each potential route.
The key is to start with as many options as possible. Instead of eliminating options from the get-go, you can opt to rank each pathway from the least desirable to the best. It is also okay to combine some paths that are quite similar.
2. Consider undergoing a career assessment
Remember that career personality test you were given before you entered college? That test which revealed what you should be when you grow up may have seemed silly at the time, but it can actually be helpful in finding out your career identity.
If implemented correctly, these tests can accurately assess your compatibility with a specific job and lead you to the right path. These can also be quite useful, especially if you aren’t sure where to start.
The counterpart of these personality tests in the adult world is a career assessment. These provide you with information about the skills, interests, and values you possess and how they relate to different lines of work. In short, they tell you who you are and the best job that suits you.
In some cases, organizations initiate coaching programs for their employees to ensure that they remain the best people for the job. If this is the case for the company you’re currently working with, grab the opportunity to sign up for coaching.
3. Find out where company needs and your passion overlap
In many cases, employees struggle to find the perfect career path to take simply because there aren’t enough jobs that require their specific skill set. This is why people who seek out positions that exactly match their professional profiles have very limited options.
Instead of looking for a direct connection between job requirements and your passion, try to look for an area where these overlap. More often than not, there will be a link between what employers need, what you’re good at, and what you love doing. That link is the key that’ll help you find the best path to take, career-wise.
Instead of searching for job titles, consider factoring in your skills, hobbies, and interests. Look back at your past experience to determine your strengths and preferences. Then, work out how they translate to jobs that are in-demand today.
4. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Many cultures are built around the fear of failure. This fear explains the mentality revolving around the idea that a person lost because of a fatal character flaw.
But this belief is far from true. The fact of life is actually the exact opposite: If you tried and failed, it means that you figured out that a job doesn’t work for you.
This is the very reason why you shouldn’t be afraid to try something different from what you’re used to. After all, if you don’t wear different hats, you won’t be able to know which ones fit you best.
5. Take on jobs that seem to be out of your league
Like trying something you’re not used to, you mustn’t be afraid to apply for jobs that seem to be out of your league. If you have the courage to try things – even if it doesn’t look like you’re cut out for the job – you’ll have a better chance at finding something special in your career.
Keep in mind that there’s always a bit of luck in play when it comes to successfully finding the perfect job for you, so you shouldn’t give up before you even begin. Take a leap of faith. As the old adage states, “You won’t know until you try.”
6. Know what makes you stand out
When you’re looking for a career path, one thing that should drive you is your strengths and personality. Think about what you can offer – beyond skills and talent, that is.
Believe it or not, the emotional appeal you have to people can be a major defining factor for your career identity.
For instance, If you’re quite reliable in rallying people together, then there’s a good chance that you’re a born leader. You can be the detail-oriented one, the problem-solver, the creative guru or the most reliable organizer. Whichever the case, who you are as a person will dictate what you can become.
When you figure out your specific work personality, you can identify which path to take in your career. This “identity” is what makes you stand out. Write down what you do or plan to do and connect that to the potential career options you’ve listed (as advised in tip No. 1).
If all else fails, ask the pros
Finding the right career path isn’t always an easy task. That’s the very reason why these tips are written.
If all else fails, you can always register for career identity workshops. These programs often have a comprehensive plan on how to help you find the right path and, ultimately, make your heart’s true desire a reality.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.