Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Find a Career

Posted on 17. Jan, 2013 by in Uncategorized

Help me find a career or I need a job are two of the most common requests I receive. Many people want to know how to find work in a down economy, but the trick is being able to align that work with finding an ideal career. It can be done, and although it takes significant work, the payout in the end will be well worth it.

Step One: Make a List of What You Have to Offer

Grab a sheet of paper or start a new document on your electronic device of choice and start making a list of what you can offer an employer. What skills do you have? What type of things do you do well? What do people ask you to help them with? What are your interests? What type of character traits do you have? Make a long list of all of these. Now, ask a few other people the same questions and add their responses to your list, then have them verify the ones you wrote down. This is important since we see ourselves different than others see us. We want an honest assessment.

Step Two: Take an Assessment Quiz or Test

Not all career assessments are created equally and the price does not always indicate the value of the assessment. However, there is value in getting a third party view of what career areas are worth exploring because I have seen people be surprised by results many times. The results can often open your eyes to new opportunities. Compare assessments offered by the Career Mentoring Institute and These results will either verify your self-understanding or give you a new insight on the opportunities in front of you.

Step Three: Make a List of Your Key Skills From Current and Previous Jobs

This falls under the what have you done lately category. Make a quick list of the activities you perform at your current and past positions which could include internships (paid or unpaid). These should be general types of activities that would translate across different types of careers or industries. For example, telephone customer service can be translated into many industries and careers.

Step Four: Make a List of Your Volunteer Activities

Most people forget how much “work” they do on a volunteer basis for organizations with which they are involved, such as student or professional associations, youth clubs or sports organizations, churches and religious organizations, or civic or other organizations. Don’t discount this time in your assessment. Remember, you tend to invest your time in what interests you. List out the activities you perform for these organizations in a general way to see if there is relation to a career.

Step Five: Make a List of Your Education and Training

What education do you have? Do you have some college or a college degree, or perhaps specialized training in a skill or trade? These are all valuable assets that you need to list. Do you hold any certifications? Certifications can carry weight with potential employers, especially if you have limited work experience in a career area. Check my page on First Steps to Success for some more information on this topic.

Step Six: Pull It All Together

You now have four lists and results of an assessment test or two. Make a new list where you identify larger groupings of types of skills, activities, and experience. Through the process of actually documenting all of these items, you should be beginning to see some areas where your interests line up with your background and where you are strongest. Look closely and try to make the connections.

Identify the top five groupings of activities and experience. Now, let’s go to a couple of job sites and research some of the open positions, not to apply, but to see how position requirements match up to your interests. Check out postings for your interests on Indeed.

Step Seven: Make a Decision

Evaluate the different types of careers you have identified for yourself. Ask yourself, could I see myself in this role or career long term? Remember that many people change careers over their lifetime, so you may be back at this step many years down the line. But for now, make sure you have the interest in the career you select, that it offers you opportunity for growth and advancement, and that you will be able to support yourself. Once you have committed to a choice, the next step is to prepare your resume to sell you for a position in your new career field. See my step-by-step guide here.

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