Are you a graduate who’s still looking for a stable and fulfilling job? If you’re under a lot of pressure to find a career path, you may be discouraged. It can be a long and windy road. But put your worries aside – we want to help you, so let’s look at seven ways to discover the career path that suits you.
What is a career path?
Think of a career path as the journey of your professional working life. Traditionally, a career path is represented by a ladder going upwards. It is widely perceived as a linear journey, where one climbs the corporate ladder from an entry-level role to a managerial position (or higher). Sound familiar?
Today, however, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all career path. It looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be a linear path. You can go in circles or squiggles and still have a fulfilling job that makes you happy.
So, with all the endless possibilities at your disposal, how do you choose a career path?
How to Choose a Career Path
1. Clarify your vision, mission and values
Usually, your career path aligns with your major in university, but there are also other factors to consider. A great deal of introspection is needed, and asking questions about your personal goals, mission and values is an excellent way to start. There are countless industries and organisations, and it is sure to align with your values.
Reflect on these questions to begin.
- What is important to you in life?
- Do you want to help uplift others in the community?
- What type of legacy do you want to leave?
- How will you do it?
- Is it more important to have fun while working for less or work a role that may require long hours but guarantees financial wealth?
- Do you work better with fixed hours or flexible hours?
Understanding your priorities and preferences will help to narrow down your career options.
2. Audit your strengths and abilities
Your strengths and abilities can also determine your career path. By auditing what you can do and what you’re good at, you can identify a few careers where you can genuinely expand your strengths for a purpose.
For example, if your strength is in mathematics, you could be suited for economics or engineering roles. Or, if you are a creative person, you could pursue a career in marketing, graphic designs or even advertising. Any transferable skills such as organisation, time management, marketing, tech, and social media management are also good since most industries require those in their daily operations.
3. Shortlist the jobs you want to try for
After aligning your values and auditing your abilities, you are one step closer. It would be best if you had an idea of your various options by now. Next, make a list of those options and shortlist the industry and roles you may consider applying for.
You may even find that your values and skills overlap. For example, a social media enthusiast interested in finance might look for a marketing position in an accounting firm or financial institute.
This is only the beginning.
4. Take a career path test
Career aptitude tests are widely available online for free to assess your personality and recommend a career path based on your test results. You can also take a career path test to check if your shortlisted jobs are suitable for you.
Truity has a researched-back career test based on your likes and dislikes. In addition, the Princeton Review asks a series of questions, including would-you-rather questions. You can also walk into your local career consultancy firm to see if they have any pen-and-paper tests or advisory services.
What to do once you’ve determined your career path
1. Engage with people in your industry
A helpful tip to get a foot in the door, whether for a full-time position or an internship, is to network with people. If you’re not active on LinkedIn, get started by updating your profile and reaching out to other industry professionals. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach out to founders, CEOs, hiring managers, and even fresh graduates.
2. Chart out your career path
We will never know what the future brings for our careers. Nevertheless, it’s still handy to set SMART goals. To chart out your career path, identify where you are now in your career, the milestones you want to achieve and where you want to be in a set amount of time. Here’s what a career path could look like:
- Marketing Career Path – From an entry-level in-house Social Media Coordinator to Chief Marketing Officer of a fashion brand
- Legal Career Path – From an in-house legal advisor in a corporate company to a senior partner at a legal firm
- IT/Tech Career Path – From Junior Web Developer to Web Team Lead at a financial institution
It’s essential to do this so that you take up offers on jobs or projects that will contribute to your career development and save time and effort on jobs that may not matter, despite paying well. In addition, setting milestones and goals makes it easier to identify your knowledge and skill gaps, thus determining the kind of professional development you need to engage in.
3. Remember your career path isn’t final
Our last tip for finding your career path is to remember that your decision isn’t set in stone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people began to steer off their career path, question their purpose and pursue a different career. Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper, authors of The Squiggly Career, propose that career paths become more fluid as people adapt to other roles, industries, and locations, even working from home. The past two years have certainly changed the meaning of career development to become more divergent.
So, don’t stress over it if your plans fail. You can always take it from the top, realigning your personal goals, values and mission.
Finding a career path takes a lot of hard work, but finding one that rings true to you is even more challenging. But instead of looking at your career as just a dead-end linear path to get from one position to the next, change how you view it. Instead, look at your career as a stepping stone onto new and exciting opportunities that will unfold along your journey.
For now, though, we recommend you take these 7 tips and you’ll be on your way to sending job application emails!