Your Guide to Choosing a Career

Choosing a career is one of the most impactful decisions you can make.

Your job affects everything, from what you do day to day, how much money you make, where you live, what your daily schedule is like, how you interact with the important people in your life, how you can spend your free time, how happy you are...

Why not take control of those choices instead of giving your life over to random chance?

Considering how much this choice touches every aspect of a person's life, it's unfortunate that most people leave the process of choosing a career mostly up to chance.

They take the first job that comes along when they finish school.

Or they jump into a college or university program without a lot of thought about the kind of life they will lead based on the career options that will come as a result of their education.

It's not necessary to leave your career and your life up to chance.

You can feel completely in charge of your life if you know how to actively drive your career instead of accepting whatever random job and situation comes your way.

Ultimately, having control of your career means having control of your life and being able to live the way you want to live NOW - Not slogging it out through some hated (or even okay but not terrific) job until someday - 30 years from now - you finally get to retire and live the way you want.

If you learn how to find the career that is right for you, you can live the way you want to live NOW.

Choosing a career that is a great fit for you does require some effort.

You'll need to take some time to learn as much as you can about yourself and the jobs that interest you in order to make good decisions. Here are plenty of tools and information to help you:

Choosing a Career

Here's a summary of what you'll find on this page. You can click on any of these links to jump down to a specific topic that interests you

4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Career
There is a lot to think about when choosing a career, but it can all be boiled down to 4 main elements. If you think of the information you gather in these terms, it can make the process feel less confusing.

Assessments - Formal and Informal

Formal Career Tests - Must be Administered by a Trained Professional

Completing some career tests can help you to develop a deeper level of self-knowledge.

They are not an essential part of choosing a career, but if you have access to reliable assessments, they can help you find options you might not have considered on your own or verify that a career you were considering would be a good fit for you.

Career Placement Test Overview
Assessments can measure many different factors that all come into play when choosing a career including: personality, work values, aptitudes, interests and skills. This article describes each type of test in detail so you'll know what a particular kind of assessment can and cannot measure and be able to choose the right type of test for your needs.

General Aptitude Test Battery
The General Aptitude Test Battery, also known as the GATB, measures nine different aptitudes.

An aptitude is something that you are naturally good at. It doesn't hinge on you having any prior training in an area, so an aptitude test like the GATB can tell you, for example, if you were likely to have success studying algebra, or becoming a mechanic even if you have no experience in those areas.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality assessment which can help give you insight into how your personality fits with a variety of jobs. The test will place you in one of 16 different personality types, and then you can match your type with jobs that are well suited to that type.

The book Do What You Are takes you through a test based on the MBTI and helps you to connect your personality type with suitable careers. If you don't have access to someone who can administer the formal Myers Briggs test for you, reading and doing the exercises in this book is an excellent and inexpensive alternative to help with choosing a career.

True Colors Personality Test
True Colors is a less formal and less in-depth assessment, but it can be a lot of fun and provide insight into yourself and others around you. This test is usually done in a group setting because the interaction of the group makes it more dynamic.

Informal Assessments - Anyone Can do These at Any Time

How to Do a Transferable Skills Analysis
A transferable skills analysis is a process for brainstorming all of the skills you have to offer an employer no matter where you may have developed those skills. It can help you to think of yourself (in relation to jobs you might be able to do) as a set of skills you have to offer instead of just your most recent job title.

People often minimize their skills and don't realize how much they have to offer. Doing a transferable skills analysis can not only open your eyes to new career options, but also give you a self esteem boost when you realize how much you truly can offer an employer.

Transferable Skill Worksheet
Once you read about how to do a transferable skills analysis, you can use this worksheet to get started brainstorming your skills.

Decisional Balance
A decisional balance takes the standard pro and con list to a new level to ensure you've considered all sides of a situation before you make a decision. It is free, and you need nothing more than a pen, a piece of paper and some quiet time to think.

Midlife Career Change

Choosing a career isn't just for young, new graduates. Often people make big changes part way through their working lives. The articles below will give you some guidance if you're changing careers in mid life.

Midlife Career Change
Overview of the issues involved in making a midlife career change.

Reasons for Making a Change
Several smart reasons for making a career change.

Second Careers
How to start to make the switch to your second career.

How to Apply Your Current Skills to a New Type of Job
Strategies for choosing a new career without losing the momentum and skills developed in your current profession.

Retirement Jobs
Instead of leaving paid employment entirely, you might choose a form of phased retirement which includes a "retirement job" that would allow you to gear down, but not completely leave the world of work.

Your Thirties
Sometimes the decisions you made in your twenties don't fit with the life you want in your thirties, and you need to make a change.

Older Workers
At a certain point (the exact point varies depending upon your industry), age can can become a factor in your career and job search. Here's how to minimize the effects of age discrimination.

Work Values
Learn about the importance of ensuring the work you do does not conflict with your personal values.

How to Research Careers That Interest You

Once you have a few job options in mind, you need to explore them. The research tools and strategies below will help you to learn as much as you can to make an informed decision when choosing a career.

Research Using O*Net
O*Net is an excellent research tool developed and maintained by the American government. While it will be most helpful to people who work in the US, a lot of the information can be used by people working outside of the US. Here's how to use it to learn about jobs you might want to explore.

Highest Paying Jobs
A simple list of the top paying jobs isn't very helpful. It won't provide anywhere near all of the information you need when choosing a career. However, salary is an important consideration, so here are 3 free sources that provide salary statistics as well as other important information about almost any job that may interest you.

High Paying Careers
Several more strategies for finding free, accurate and local salary information.

Benefits and Limitations of Online Counseling Resources
Learn what online career counselling resources can and cannot do for you.

Education

Education can do a lot to open up your options. However it can be a huge investment of time and money, and not all programs will help you to reach you goals, so you need to do some good research before committing to any educational program.

Choosing a College
8 steps you can take to ensure the college you choose will live up to their promises and get you closer to your goals.

MBA Information
Information for people who are considering completing an MBA including types of programs, admission requirements and a list of top schools.

Achieve Your Goals

Once you know what type of career you want to pursue, you need to make it happen! Here are some strategies for setting and achieving goals, as well as some inspiration, to help you reach your target.

How to Set Good Goals
How to set goals that are positive and helpful, and not negative and harmful.

Career Quotes
A little bit of inspiration to keep you moving toward your goals.

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