If you're not sure which direction your career should go in, you're thinking about making a change, or you just want to feel more fulfilled in your job, these ten tips can help.
Ideally, everyone would know their true calling early in life and find happiness in their work, but it often doesn't work that way. But we know there are better ways to choose a career than just following your parents' footsteps or choosing randomly. Here are some ideas.
10. Think About What Excites And Energises You
This one's the first obvious step -- we all want to enjoy and actually like our careers. While passion isn't the only requirement for being content in your career, many would say it's still essential, if only because passion is what keeps you going even through the tough times. Is there a job you would do job for free?
9. But Also Keep In Mind What You're Good At
Maybe you don't feel that passionate about any specific career -- or you love multiple areas and can't decide on just one. Then it's time to think about your personality and focus on the skills you have. "Don't do what you love. Do what you are."
8. Take A Test
Well, you say, what if you don't know what you're good at or even what you're interested in? Career assessment tests at school or university help narrow down a field, but if it's been a while since you took those tests, there are other kinds of assessment tests you can take. About.com's Job Search site has a useful collection of career tests. You can also find a career that fits your motivational focus with this assessment test.
7. Try An Internship
If you have flexibility when it comes to salary, an internship could be a great way to test out an industry or type of career -- and eventually get a full-time job (especially if you have no prior experience). Even if it doesn't turn into a job or you find out it's the wrong career for you, an internship can help build your network -- from which you can get career and job advice.
6. Find A Mentor
A mentor could help you take your career to the next level and give you the insider insight to help you make sure you're on the right path. Here's how to ask someone to be your mentor. If there's a career you're interested in, you might also check to see if any companies or people in that line of work would let you shadow them for a few days to see what it's really like.
5. Explore Unconventional Careers
We all know the popular careers available to us -- doctor, lawyer, teacher, computer engineer, police officer, store owner. If you feel uninspired by the typical choices, know that there are thousands of unusual jobs you might not have heard about, hidden, perhaps, in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook. Mashable has a list of six dream jobs that pay well (panda caretaker! Chocolate inspector!), Thought Catalogue highlights 10 more (sex toy testers?!), and Chron lists a couple of others (along with related articles like "Unusual careers with animals" and "unusual accounting careers").
4. Ask Other People
Perhaps the best way to discover a new career is to ask other people about theirs -- assuming you come into contact with people who don't all work in the same field. Your LinkedIn network might be a good place to start mining for information.
3. Use The G+P+V Formula
The perfect career for you would most likely fit the G+P+V formula, which stands for Gifts + Passions + Values. Consider your strengths and passions, as we've noted above, and your values -- what's nonnegotiable about the way you work?
2. Make A Career Plan
As with most things, your career will benefit if you have goals and a plan for it. Maybe you think you want to be a writer, but the next step after that is editing. (Do you really want to do that?) Or maybe you want to transition from being an editor to a restaurant owner. (How are you going to get there?) Map out where you want to go, with concrete milestones, as if it were a four-phase project.
1. See Your Career As A Set Of Stepping Stones, Not A Linear Path
Of course, all these plans and ideas are never set in stone. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint and it can turn out to be a very winding road indeed, knitted together from all of your experiences into, hopefully, a career worth having.