The fewer the words, the better the prayer.

~ Martin Luther ~

How Do I Figure Out What Career I Want?

March 30th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 10 secs

Given I am an expert wallaby spotter, how do I figure out which career I want next?

Question: How do I figure out what career I want?  Answer: Keep asking questions.

Identifying which career you want can be simple or hard. “Simple” in the sense you generally know what you do and don’t like. “Hard” in that you need to begin now and keep at it to find your answer.

Having a background in career counseling, I feel it’s a tremendous shame that so many people remain uncertain about what career they want. Declaring, “I don’t know what to do” they tend to stop their search before they start, hoping life will do it all for them. While those who ask, “How do I figure out what career I want?” are on the right track to finding out.

Being a teacher too, I see the travesty of so many people coming through the school system, unsure what they want to do. Some, going on to university, keep chopping and changing subjects and courses because they have no idea where they’re going. What a waste! I believe everybody needs to figure out what career they want well before leaving school. Marking time in tertiary study or paid work puts people in a holding pattern of dissatisfaction. Which emphasizes the question: how can you figure out what career you want when you genuinely don’t know?

For starters, start sifting. Even kids as young as ten can begin this process. Think of careers that might appeal and keep a list. If it helps, keep a “Not that” list too (sometimes it’s easier ruling out things). Then explore those jobs that appeal. Talk to people who do them if you can and discover what’s involved. Keep adding to your list and remove duds as you go. Ask friends and family about your strengths too, and try to be objective by comparing your abilities against average people your own age.

Essentially, you are developing a written personal profile, that you can add goals, dreams, and hopes to as well. Continuing to reflect on this will attune you to many more career opportunities than you originally imagined and your questions will progress. Instead of, “How do I figure out what career I want?” you’ll move to, “Which careers suit me?”, “What kind of work inspires me?”, and even, “Who do I admire most?”

Those we admire possess qualities that can offer clues as to what best suits you, career-wise. Keep asking, looking, and keeping track of your findings. Even if your future career hasn’t even been invented yet, knowing what your strengths and transferable skills are will help. They’ll direct you to the best set of job options around now and position you favorably for the future.

If you are seriously wondering, “How do I figure out what career I want?” there’s no time to lose. Make it a high priority. Your first role is to do your research and investigate options. Talk to qualified career counselors, job brokers, and anyone you believe could help. The more you put into it, the better your results will be.





  1. Peter says:

    Good advice, thanks!