How to Figure Out What Job You Want

What do you want to do when you grow up? Or at least for the next few years? Whether you’re thinking about changing jobs, or if you’re looking for your first job, think about your general preferences before starting your search to make a better choice. Yes, even with the economy still not ideal in a lot of places, you do have choices!

If you currently have a job, what do you like about it, and what do you hate about it? If you’re a student, think about the part-time jobs you may have had or your study habits.

If you’re changing jobs, it’s important to figure out if you don’t like the specific tasks you’re doing or if you’re just unhappy with the culture and/or people you’re working with.

If you like your overall job description and the functions you do, but just not the people around you, it might be possible to move to a different department in your company. And even within the same company, different departments can have different cultures.

On the other hand, if you dislike your overall job description, you can evaluate how you can shift your career into another direction before you change jobs. For example, I’m also a legal recruiter, and I’ve come across a lot of lawyers who simply don’t like practicing law. Changing law firms is not going to help them; they need to think of a way to transition their careers.

Isolate your variables as much as possible and dig down into the specifics of what’s making you want to change jobs. Is it your job description or your immediate surroundings?

• Do you like dealing with people?

• Do you like being on the phone?

• Do you like working alone?

• Do you prefer to study alone or in a group?

• Do you mind answering to authority?

• Do you like to keep your own schedule?

• Do you need more structure in your day? Less structure? Do you want to create that structure yourself or have someone else do it for you?

• Are you a morning person? What time would you ideally like to get to work?

• Do you like filing and other organizational/administrative tasks?

• Do you like working with numbers?

• Are you comfortable selling? Are you comfortable selling if you believe in the product?

• Are you comfortable asking people for money? Are you comfortable asking for money if it’s for a cause or business you believe in?

• Do you like planning for yourself and others?

• Do you like managing people?

• Do you like a more relaxed or a more formal culture? By that I mean do you want to be chatty with your superiors and/or those who are working for you, or would you rather keep a formal distance?

• Do you prefer casual dress or a suit?

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Here are some books for choosing a career that might help you help you further.

And here’s a website that offers a series of different career quizzes. I haven’t used it personally, but it seems to offer a nice variety of ways to explore your preferences. There are many other quizzes out there as well, and a Google search will help you find more.

If you’re in a job you love, how did you find it? If you’re not, what’s one thing you’re going to do this week to help you figure out what will work for you?


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