If you’re new to the working world or looking to take your professional life in a new direction, ask yourself these 5 questions before you begin your job search.
What do I enjoy?
Have there been projects that really inspired you to go above and beyond? Were you inspired by the topic, by the type of work that was required, or both? What about topics or tasks that you dislike? Make a list.
What am I good at?
What are your natural strengths and weaknesses? What do people compliment you on? Make a list. Look for overlap of things you like and things you’re good at, then start your career search from there.
What sacrifices am I willing to make?
Some jobs involve regular overtime, extensive travel, irregular hours, and so on. Decide what trade-offs you’re willing to make. Would you rather work 70 hours per week for a larger paycheck, or would you prefer a smaller salary with a lot of flexibility and freedom?
What do my family & friends think about their jobs?
Find out what those closest to you like most (and least) about their jobs and organizations. Ask the “why” questions to gain deeper insight. Some good points to cover are day-to-day responsibilities, levels of autonomy and collaboration, organizational size and culture, etc.
What’s out there?
Head over to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) and the Career Guide to Industries (CCI). The OOH includes information on hundreds of jobs, including education requirements, typical earnings, job prospects, and sample job descriptions. The CCI includes similar info but is focused on industries rather than specific jobs. Next, compare job and industry data to the insights you gained from the questions above.
Once you determine which jobs and careers interest you, it’s time to job shadow. Reach out to your network for job shadowing opportunities. If no one in your network does what you’re interested in, ask to be put in touch with others in their company.
Best of luck with your job search!