Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
8 Steps For Finding The Right Career Path
Published Jul 30th, 2020 & updated on Mar 20th, 2021
You were hoping for a nice, uneventful family dinner and now you’ve been asked the official worst question of all time. “So, have you picked a major yet?” No, Aunt Janice, I most definitely have not. I’m still searching and learning and discovering and finding the right career path for me.
You’ve been preparing for this question, and darn it to heck you even practiced your answer. But now you’re nervous, you’re feeling intensely awkward and your heart is going to town, which only makes you more nervous. Your brain is screaming inside your head, Someone HELP me, I have NO IDEA what I’m doing with my life…
Instead, you mumble, “Oh, I’m not really sure yet, still trying to figure out what I wana do…”
They give you the pity look. “That’s ok, you still have lots of time to decide”. Very reassuring. Thanks. And on that note, your family dinner is ruined. You’ll never be able to enjoy your mashed potatoes now.
If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone.
Finding the right career path – what you could be doing for the rest of your life – is a BIG DEAL. It’s intimidating and daunting and it’s very normal to be stressed, anxious, and worried. We all are. Or at least we all were at some point.
But finding your career path can also be, dare we say it, fun? Think about it: you can literally be anything you want; do anything you want. To help ease your stress about finding the right career, check out this list of 8 helpful hacks.
Here’s to finding your place at your own pace!
1. Do A Self-Assessment Test
First, admire your beautiful self in the mirror because you deserve that. Then, look within and perform a self-assessment. In order to understand what career is right for you, you have to understand yourself. We recommend making lists; lists will be your best friend.
What are your skills, interests, and values? What level of education do you have? Are you willing to pursue a higher level of education? Is there a particular kind of environment you need to succeed? Think about everything from scheduling to hours to the work environment itself. All of these things come into play when finding the right career path. The bottom line is, it might be a great career, but it has to be a great career for you.
2. Research Different Career Options
One word: Google.
Could you imagine having to look for jobs in the newspaper?? No thanks. Take advantage of the fact that you have access to literally all of the information in the entire world and start researching potential career options. Browse LinkedIn, take some career tests (with a grain of salt), and read about people’s experiences in the field. You have to be willing to put in the time to sift through all of the information out there. We know it can be overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time. You’ll be surprised how much you can find.
Then, combine that wealth of information with your newfound personal knowledge. The cross-referencing process will help you narrow down your search to a more reasonable number of careers. Not, you know, every career in the world. Then you can really dive in.
3. Talk To People In The Careers You’re Interested In
You may be thinking, “How am I supposed to know what it’s like to do this job if I’ve never done this job before?”
First of all, we get you. On a personal level.
Second of all, the answer is to talk to people. We know, we know, not always fun. But quite necessary.
Talking to people can mean anyone from neighbours to career counselors to professors to CEOs. Ask them what a typical workday looks like. Ask them what they love about their job. Even more important, ask them what they can’t stand about it. Ask them questions you can’t find the answers to online. Ask them lots of questions. As someone starting a new career, every piece of information is valuable to help you find the right career. Everything you learn from odd conversations here and there will contribute to the overall picture you’re painting in your head.
4. Find Opportunities To Job Shadow
After you’ve talked to people about the careers you’re interested in, take it one step further and ask about job shadowing. Job shadowing is magical. And it’s the perfect way to experience the real-world, day-to-day aspects of a potential career.
Two hours into the day, you may realize that you’re very much not a fan of the job. No problem. You can walk away at the end of the day, no strings attached. The only thing you will have lost is one day binging Gossip Girl. And you can make up for that on the weekend.
On the other hand, you may spend 30 minutes at the job and realize that this is where you want to be. Suddenly, everything clicks into place and you just know.
The truth is, there are some things you don’t realize until you’ve lived them yourself. Job shadowing allows you to separate the idea of the career from the actual thing. It saves you from entering a career that doesn’t really fit and, in the process, saves you a whole lot of time, money, and stress.
5. Discover Things That Are Meaningful To You
You’re about to be spending all day every day at work. Now, this could go one of two ways: 1) you dread going to work every day, or 2) you genuinely like your job and are motivated to go to work. It’s like you’re at the optometrist’s office. 1 or 2? 1 or 2? We know which one we’d pick.
Listen, we’re not saying that every day is going to be the best day ever but finding meaningful work will sure make it easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Don’t just take our word for it. There is loads of research out there that says you are more happy, productive, and successful when you’re doing work you’re passionate about. You’ll find purpose in your career and you’ll feel like what you’re doing actually matters.
Unfortunately, you might not be able to survive on passion alone. For example, you might be passionate about music, but lack the skills to become the next Shawn Mendes. Don’t we all … The trick is to find a career that is meaningful, but that also aligns with your skills, values, and requirements. Maybe you’re not a performer, but you’re great at planning events, coordinating media, and making sure everything runs smoothly. With your passion for music and sweet organizational skills, instead, you could be a tour manager for the next Shawn Mendes.
When you find a career that incorporates your skills and your passions, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Don’t settle for a job you hate.
6. Think It Through
Once you have all of your information, the only thing left to do is decide. Hah. If only it were that easy.
Like with any other big decision, we recommend writing down your thoughts in your journal. Write down how you feel about your career candidates, look at the pros and cons, and visualize how you might progress on each career path. But most importantly, be honest with yourself. This is for you, and you only. Use your journal to sort through and examine your feelings from a non-judgemental point of view. You’re allowed to feel whatever you’re feeling.
Check out the DiveThru app for dives such as “making a career path change” and “picking your major”. We have everything you need to organize your thoughts and are here to support you as you make your decision.
7. Choose A Career YOU Want
The worst thing you can do is go into a career solely because someone else wants you to. That someone could be a parent, a partner, or a friend, but any way you slice it, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you’re miserable at your job, it will translate into every other area of your life as well.
Think you need to make a change? Do it. If you need to go against someone else’s wishes to satisfy your own, do it. You are the top priority, here. Be bold and brave and trust your gut. At the end of the day, you have to be happy with what you’re doing because you’re the one doing it.
8. Be Open To Trying Multiple Things
Wow ok this heading sounds suuuper dramatic, but sometimes it feels like choosing your career is a one-time thing and you’re locked in for life. That’s not true though. At all.
According to a survey conducted by Indeed, over a third of Canadians make a complete career switch at least once in their life. And even better news, 87% of them are happier after they made the switch. So, despite what it might feel like, you are allowed to change your mind.
We’re not saying choosing your career will be an easy decision. Because it probably won’t be. What we are saying is that, hopefully, with these tips, it will at least be a manageable one. If nothing else, we hope that the next time someone asks you the dreaded question, it might be a little less dreaded.
And now we leave you with one of our favourite accounts, @nathanwpylestrangeplanet. Because how relatable.View this post on Instagram