If you find yourself asking “What career is right for me?” here’s what to do

When you’re doing something you enjoy — or better yet, something you’re passionate about — your job can actually feel a lot less like actual work. So, choosing the right career is of the utmost importance. When you find yourself wondering,What career is right for me?” there are steps you can take to figure out the best options.

Not knowing where you’re headed in your career can be scary, and the uncertainty and indecision of having to make this choice can feel overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to help you decide what work you’re best suited to do.

Evaluating what you want out of a singular job, out of the entirety of your career, and out of your life in general, is key to determining which career path is right for you. When you’re feeling stuck or are lacking direction, tools like career coaching, career aptitude tests, and personality tests can be incredibly helpful.

Although choosing a career that allows you to do something you enjoy or are passionate about can be a wonderful experience, having a career that fits you in terms of your values and skillset may serve you best in the long run. When you focus on this aspect of career choice, you’re less likely to experience burnout and more likely to experience career growth.

How to define what you want out of a career

To narrow down your options and determine which career is right for you, it can be helpful to focus in on your wants, needs, and goals. This takes some self-reflection and evaluation, but it’s worth the work. 

Often described as a career objective, having this clear-cut definition can help prevent career roadblocks and set you up for success. Each career path comes with different pros and cons, so it’s important to know what different careers offer when it comes to things like schedule, benefits, compensation, and work environment.

Ask yourself what it is that you really want out of a job. What type of benefits will suit your lifestyle? Do you need flexibility in your schedule? Are you only available to work from home? Are you willing to travel?

Additionally, take into account what your current experience, education, and interests are. Finding a career that aligns with these existing facets of your life can be helpful. If you find that to thrive in certain careers you will need additional education or different experience, you can work toward those to help get you on the right track.

Knowing what motivates you is also a key part of defining what you want out of a career. Because motivation varies from person to person, understanding the specific factors for what drives your will to work is especially important when choosing the right career.

Steps to Researching potential careers 

Make a list of potential careers that you’re interested in, and then take a look at each one online. Scour listings of available jobs to see what the job descriptions for these careers look like. What are the qualifications and skills required? This can give great insight into whether or not you’re headed in the right direction.

But above and beyond simply hitting up Google to learn about different types of careers and what each is like (although that can be helpful!) it can be incredibly valuable to speak to people in the fields that you’re interested in and see first hand what different types of jobs are like. 

Networking: Reach out to people on online networking platforms who have jobs that you might want and see if they’re open to chatting about their experience. This can help you get a feel for what it’s like to work in a specific career, as well as gauge the temperature of the industry from someone in the know. 

These individuals could also have insight into aspects of the job that you had not yet thought of. Alternatively, maintaining these connections as you move into your job search can be helpful. It is possible that you may even find opportunities for mentorship through this process.

Shadowing: Spending a day shadowing a friend or family member in a specific industry can also be helpful to assess different aspects of a certain career choice. You’ll get to see up-close-and-personal what it’s really like to work a specific job day-to-day and may even get to interact with their co-workers who could also give some insight as well. 

Career coaching: A career coach can be another great resource for helping you determine which career is right for you. Career coaching can be an especially helpful tool if you’re unsure of where to start deciding what career is right for you.

These professionals can help you evaluate different aspects of what you want out of a career, help you complete career aptitude tests, and guide you through the entire process. They can also play a role in helping you craft your resume, look for jobs, and prepare for interviews once you decide on a career path.

Tools to help you choose the right career

Can a career quiz help determine which career path you should take? While it’s unlikely any random online quiz will pinpoint your exact career destiny with astonishing accuracy, taking a career test can help you narrow down your options and determine which direction you should head.

Whether or not a career test will help guide you truly depends on what type you take. Here’s a rundown of the types of career tests out there and the benefits of each:

Personality tests: This type of test is a tool that is used to assess your personality. Your personality determines your day-to-day actions — how you think, how you speak, how you interact with others.  

But how does a personality test help you in determining your career? Well, when you know more about yourself and how you react to certain things, you can better understand what type of job would be the best fit for you. 

Popular personality tests like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) are often used by employers to determine whether or not a person applying for a job is going to be a good fit. Different types of personality tests will include different results based on specific scales developed for that type of test. 

You can take personality tests like the MBTI and others online through resources such as the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, where you pay a fee to take the assessment and then receive personalized feedback.

Career aptitude tests: While they do vary in form, function, and length, there are a variety of career aptitude tests available that can help provide insight into the type of career that might be right for you. 

Most career aptitude tests will ask a variety of questions to determine your interests and abilities. Then, after answering all of the questions, you’ll be presented with a list of potential careers that fit within the parameters of how you answered the quiz. 

Although many free online career tests are not scientifically backed, they can still give you a good glimpse at where your interests and abilities might lead you on your career path. You can find free online tests on websites like The Princeton Review and Career Explorer.

Can the right career for you change over time?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Sometimes, even after you determine what you think you want out of a career and head down that path, things can change. 

Understanding that although this decision is a big one, it can also be a flexible one, is crucial. Knowing that career changes are possible can also help you feel more secure in your choice when you do make one.

Changes in your personal life like a marriage, children, or moving can prompt the need for a different job, or even a different career altogether. Alternatively, you may just happen to stumble upon a hobby that you are passionate enough about to turn it into a career. 

Regardless of the reason, making a career change is possible. So, even if you find what feels like a perfect fit and the “right” career for now, know that you can always shift if you need to — or even if you just want to.