How do most people choose a career?
Well … they don’t. They stumble into a job after college, take whatever they can to get and then follow one of the few avenues possible from that random job.
No wonder most people get frustrated in their careers.
But there is actually a way to narrow down your potential interests in order to choose a career that you will love.
Ramit Sethi, our founder and career guru, has put together a Dream Job System to help you explore ALL the careers that interest you, test each one to see if you really enjoy them, and on to others Skipping jobs when they don’t fit.
Here are some of our top tips for finding a job you love – even if you have no idea what to do.
1. Understand yourself and your personality
A good assessment of your personality will determine what type of job you would fit into. And we’re not talking about taking a random career personality test and doing whatever you’re supposed to – these tests are usually unrealistic and can’t paint a clear picture of what really drives you.
Instead, ask yourself the following questions and let your answers guide you in your career search.
What motivates you
The first step in assessing your personality is to find out what motivates you. If you cannot answer this question on your own, reach out to friends, family, and co-workers to understand your driving force. When do they realize your eyes are lighting up? Maybe after helping someone or solving a difficult problem. Understanding what gives you energy can help you find the right career direction.
Assess your skills
Some jobs use soft skills such as communication and personality, while others require special academic skills. For example, technical jobs automatically require an analytical mindset / background. You cannot apply for an academic research position if you are only trained in art history. If you’re looking to make a career change, that’s fine, but know that you will likely need additional training.
Understand your weaknesses and dislikes
Be self-aware and understand your greatest weaknesses and dislikes. You may find that you have poor delegation skills or hate teamwork. You need to recognize where you have weaknesses or direct dislikes. For example, if you don’t enjoy talking to people, you are unlikely to consider a career in customer service.
2. Make a list of potential careers that you want to explore
One of the most daunting aspects of choosing a career is choosing just ONE job … that you are supposed to do for the rest of your life.
- “What if I decide I hate doing X? Can I ever do anything else? “
- “What if I want to change careers in a few years? What do I do then? “
- “What if I enjoy doing a lot of things and can’t decide what to focus on?”
Just start by listing ALL of the careers and job titles that you have Power To be interested in.
Anything you want to explore, just write it down.
- Do you think copywriting is fun? Add it to your list.
- Can you introduce yourself as a marketing manager? List it up.
- Do you know someone who does inside sales and what they do sounds cool? Put it on its side.
- Have you toyed with the idea of becoming a baker? Nothing is too left field. Write it down.
Ramit calls this the cloud because your options are as open as the sky.
This way you can say “yes” to EVERYTHING you’re curious about instead of constantly saying “no, I can’t do this because…”.
Where should your ideas come from? Here are a few career brainstorming tips:
- List any careers or job titles that have caught your attention in the past.
- Go to LinkedIn or any other job board and read the job descriptions. If you notice or enjoy something, add it to your list of potential ideas.
- Think about the skills that you already have or that you want to develop. Then look for jobs that include these skills. For example, do you like design and creativity? Find out which jobs require these skills by searching online. Put these options on your list of potential careers as well.
- Think of people whose jobs you envy. Have you always been jealous of your aunt for being the tour manager of your favorite band? Write that down.
3. Research your top picks
Now that you’ve tentatively selected a few job titles, it’s time to do some in-depth research. This is where you go from “Hmm … sounds interesting” to a real understanding of what the job is about.
Remember: you don’t need to know 100% about these roles just yet. You just want to learn as much as you need to see if a job is right for you.
Let’s use the job title “engineer” as an example of what you’re looking for.
The first thing you should do is take a bird’s eye view of the job:
- What do engineers actually do?
- What are the different types of engineers (petroleum, electrical engineering, civil engineering …)?
- Which companies do you work for?
You can find this information by doing a quick search on Wikipedia or by Googling “Introduction to” [INSERT JOB]. “
As you deal with these broad and sweeping questions, you may eliminate some of the options you originally listed. And that’s fine. Indeed, it is expected. Just because something sounds interesting in theory doesn’t always mean it.
You actually want to narrow things down at this stage. If at any point you run out of job titles on your list, just go back to step three (with your new understanding of what to expect from a job) and start again.
Once you have a basic, high-level understanding of the positions, you can dig deeper into the details:
- What does this job cost?
- What kind of educational experience is required?
- What is the trajectory?
- What does the job look like in everyday life?
- How many hours a week do you work?
- Does it involve travel?
- What makes a great engineer vs. just a good one? Is it a strategic vision? Creative ideas? Quantitative Skills?
- What blogs / books / websites do you read regularly to stay “up to date”?
As you go through this process, ask yourself, “Could I imagine that?” And “Do I still care?”
This process will help you figure out what you really enjoy. Once you’ve narrowed your list back down, you’ll be ready to hear from people who actually work in those roles. This is how you guarantee the right career choice.
4. Conduct informational discussions
An informational interview is an informal discussion on a topic that is relevant to your dream job. It’s the final step in choosing your career path.
You may have heard of informational interviews before, but few people take this crucial step. Two things you need to know:
- A briefing is an opportunity to meet and learn from someone you are curious about. So, if you’re curious about what a product manager or engineer is really up to and looking for insider tips for the job, find out here.
- People want to meet up with smart people who are curious about the same things. That means that when you send a great email, you have insightful questions and you are interesting.
How to set up a briefing:
Book your time
First, identify the people you want to talk to. Then get in touch with them with a friendly email and ask if they are ready to meet with you. Here is a sample email script that you can modify and use.
Subject: Hello everyone!
I hope all is well and that this email finds you in a good mood. I’m thinking about catching up on my career choice.
I’ve read and excited about quality control in large pharmaceutical companies, but there isn’t a lot of information out there on the ground experience. The job will have me on the production line and interested in what it looks like and what should I be prepared for? I know you are resourceful, given your over a decade-long career in the same direction, which I greatly admire!
Would you mind getting in virtual contact with me for a short time so that I, as a line engineer, can contribute your ideas for quality control?
Please give me a good time to connect.
Hold on short. Go straight to the point and provide a compelling reason.
Prepare topics for discussion
You don’t want to show up for a briefing without saying anything. Prepare your questions in advance and do a little research on the person you will be interviewing as well. This will help you get in touch with them while getting the most out of the interview.
Be honest about your challenges
A briefing is the perfect place for you to share concerns about the job you’re about to get to know. After all, you haven’t chosen it as a profession yet. Better to find out that it doesn’t suit you well now than it will in the future if you started in this profession.
Be a good listener
Be attentive and take notes during your briefing. Ask questions during the interview. If you don’t know what to ask, you can always ask an open question like: “Can you tell me more about XYZ?”
Send thank you
Sending a thank you letter is critical to your business after an informational interview. Even if you don’t want to get into this profession after the interview, you never want to burn a professional bridge by not moving on. Drop an email with the person you spoke to and let them know how their advice will help you achieve your goals.
While a dream job rarely falls into your lap, you find it systematic. We see many students struggling to find a job of their choice and we step in to help. That’s not to say it’s always easy. But it’s possible.
We help you to be successful by accompanying you on the career path that you love. We will help you find your dream job.
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