Disclosure: Seasoned and Growing is reader-supported. Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if clicked at no extra cost to you. The funds I make help me create more helpful content for you. I only recommend products and services I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. You can read the full disclaimer here .
As a previous job-hopper turned Career and Leadership Coach, I personally spent years asking myself, “What career is right for me?” It can feel like a never-ending and frustrating journey, especially when you see your friends and family thriving in their careers. The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with taking extra time to figure out the right career for you. Life is about pivoting, making changes, self-discovery, and rewriting your chapters. If you take anything from this article, I want you to know that it’s ok to not have it all figured out. Everyone’s journey is different, and yours is just as amazing.
I’ve worked with clients who have come to me asking, “What career is right for me?” I believe that this is a common question among professionals of all ages, backgrounds, and career levels. I decided to go ahead and put together an article to give you the tools needed to answer this question for yourself. First, we’ll dive into 7 strategies for discovering your ideal career, then we’ll cover the top 15 questions you need to ask yourself to discover the right career for you.
Once you’re done with this article, I encourage you to read some of my other articles on similar topics:
I want to also encourage you to subscribe to my mailing list so that you are among the first notified of new articles. Also, if you ever have a request or suggestion for an article, you can email me directly. Ok, now it’s time to dive into the reason that you’re here, but before diving in, I want to remind you of this.
Give yourself Grace
When it comes to finding your path, discovering your niche, identifying your passion, or figuring out what career is right for you… give yourself grace. This process is not a race. You are your only competition and you don’t need to impress anyone but yourself.
Often we get caught up with hyper-focusing on what other people think of us or whether or not we measure up. The fact is, your journey is your story. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Everything will work out. How do I know? Well, that’s because it always does! Plus, I’ve been through a lot in my own career and business, but that’s a story for a different blog post. Ok, let’s dive into what you’re really here for!
How well do you know yourself? When is the last time you shut off all the noise and tuned into your own thoughts? If you’re like most people, you spend the majority of your days tuned into conversations with friends, podcasts, music, the news, and influencers on social media. While many of these outlets can provide some motivation, laughs, and inspiration, most of the time, these are distractions.
I understand that FOMO (fear of missing out) on life, but sometimes you find the answers when you spend time in silence with your own thoughts. During this time, you can think about your passions, when you’re the happiest, and what environments allow you to thrive, etc. This quiet time also allows you to reflect on your past experiences and skill set, and envision your long-term personal and professional career goals. To make the most of this silent time of self-reflection, make sure you are being completely honest with yourself. I want to incorporate a quote from an old friend, “you can lie to everyone else, but do not lie to yourself.”
You know my favorite part about being a kid? It’s the time in our lives when we are most honest, vulnerable, and have big dreams. I’m curious, have you thought about your childhood dreams lately? What did you always want to be? What was your dream job? What did you dream of? What made you happy? Did you have career interests that excited you? Take yourself back to those days and get in touch with your dreams deferred. Also, explore why those dreams were abandoned and if you still feel a spark, maybe that’s a sign to pursue an old dream and make it a reality.
I know, I know! I just told you to sit in silence with your own thoughts, but sometimes people who are close to us (and have our best interest at heart) can see things in us that we don’t. Only ask people who you trust for their feedback about what they can envision you doing. To start the conversation, you can ask questions like:
“What trait/characteristic do you believe is my strength?”
“What do you think I’m really good at?”
“What could you see me doing as a career?
“What topics do you come to me on advice for? Why?”
I love a good personality and career assessment (also known as a career aptitude test). While it’s not a 100% accurate predictor that will lead you to your calling, it can give you insight into possibilities of careers that may be a good fit for you and your personality type. I like them because they can open your eyes to new career opportunities that you may have never even heard of. There are so many tests out there and maybe I’ll write an article breaking down each one, but take time to research the options out there. If you want me to create a list of my favorite assessments, leave a comment below!
Yes, there’s a basic blueprint for the majority of jobs out there. I’m talking about your typical 50K, 9 to 5, with a 2-week vacation package, but what is it that you need to thrive and feel secure? It’s okay to not be okay with the norm. Do you need the option to work from home, unlimited vacation, a company that provides a large professional development budget, a mission-driven non-profit, etc? Do you want to work 40 hours a week or 20 hours a week? What type of benefits do you need? Answering all of these questions will help you when looking for a job and advocating for yourself after receiving the offer.
Nowadays we live in a gig economy, so many traditional ways of working have been thrown out the door. It is okay to want to explore other options that are outside of the norm. Our society is now becoming more flexible allowing you to explore possible career paths to identify the best career option for you. Also, I need to mention this. Don’t forget to reflect on your previous jobs and highlight any transferable skills that you may have when considering career matches.
One of the sayings I grew up hearing is, “A closed mouth does not get fed.” I’ve translated this in many of my career coaching sessions and it means if you want to know more about something, speak up! A great opportunity to take advantage of is informational interviews. These meaningful conversations can provide a better understanding of different work environments and offers a glimpse into various career paths. Learn how these experiences can shape your perception and contribute to making the right career choice.
As a Career Coach and Leadership Coach, I can tell you that I’ve spent a lot of time, money, practice, and training on helping people like you find their calling. I know many of my colleagues have as well. Most professionals who go into coaching typically do it because they were once in your shoes. I explain all of this to encourage you to invest in yourself and hire a professional to walk you through this process. Coaches and Career Counselors are a wonderful sounding board, great accountability partners, and experts in providing the tools you need in order to find a fulfilling career and lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier, answering “What career is right for me” is all about self-reflection and honesty. As a next step, I’ve put together a list of 15 thought-provoking questions to help you discover what career is right for you. My goal is that you gain valuable insights from the answers. Save this page in your favorites so that you can easily come back to it as needed. I don’t expect you to answer all of these questions in a single sitting. Some of these will take hours and even days of reflection to uncover your truth. These questions will help you understand your core values, adaptability, learning styles, and desires.
What are my core values? Reflect on the principles that are most important to you. Consider whether your current or potential career aligns with these values.
What activities make me lose track of time? Identify the tasks or activities that you enjoy so much that you lose a sense of time. These can offer clues about your passions.
What are my natural skills and talents? List your skills and talents, both hard and soft. Assess how these align with different career paths.
What kind of work environment do I thrive in? Consider whether you prefer a dynamic, fast-paced environment or a more structured and organized setting. Your ideal work environment can significantly impact your job satisfaction.
What subjects or topics do I find fascinating? Think about the subjects or industries that genuinely interest you. A career related to your interests is more likely to be fulfilling.
Am I more introverted or extroverted? Understand your social preferences. Some careers may be better suited for those who thrive in team settings, while others are more conducive to individual work.
What are my long-term goals? Envision your future and consider the goals you want to achieve. Ensure that your career aligns with these aspirations.
What impact do I want to make in the world? Reflect on the kind of contribution you want to make. Whether it’s through innovation, service, or leadership, your desired impact can guide your career choice.
What challenges do I enjoy overcoming? Identify the types of challenges that motivate and excite you. Your willingness to tackle certain obstacles can inform your career direction.
What feedback do I often receive from others? Consider the compliments or feedback you receive from friends, colleagues, or mentors. This can provide insights into your strengths and areas of expertise.
What kind of lifestyle do I want? Think about your preferred work-life balance, including factors like flexibility, travel, and overall lifestyle. Ensure that your career supports these preferences.
What industries or causes do I feel passionate about? Explore industries or causes that resonate with you emotionally. Working towards a mission you believe in can bring a deeper sense of purpose to your career.
What skills do I want to develop further? Identify the skills you want to enhance or acquire. Consider careers that offer opportunities for continuous learning and skill development.
How do I handle failure or setbacks? Reflect on your resilience and how you handle challenges. This can provide insights into the types of environments or industries where you might thrive.
What motivates me beyond financial rewards? Look beyond salary considerations. Consider whether intrinsic motivators, such as personal growth, recognition, or making a difference, play a significant role in your career satisfaction.
Do I have a business idea that I want to explore? The world of work (9 to 5) isn’t for everyone. You may have a work style that suits entrepreneurship. If this is the case, the good news is that there is a lot of support and valuable resources out there that can help you from business planning to launching. Building a business is hard work, but it allows you do live out your true passions.
As you answer these questions, I hope that you notice something special. Patterns and themes may emerge (they usually do!), providing valuable clues about the career paths that align with your authentic self. Remember, the journey to finding the right career is unique to each individual, so embrace the process and allow yourself the space to explore and evolve.
In your quest to discover the right direction regarding your career journey, combine the power of self-reflection with the insights gained from personality tests, trusted input, coaching, and informational interviews. Embrace the journey of exploration, consider your passions and values, and make an informed decision that will align with your unique personality traits. Remember, your ideal career is not just a destination; it’s a fulfilling and evolving journey that adapts to your changing aspirations and goals.
As always, I’m wishing you the best!
Cheers to your success!