When it comes to choosing the perfect career, everyone says to do something you love. But what if you’re not sure of how you can do that in the “real world”? In the huge sea of career options available, it can be confusing to know which career is going to be right for you.
One common piece of advice is to start by asking yourself “what am I good at?”, then searching for jobs where those skills are involved. But while we all have certain natural talents, most skills and abilities are learned through practice and experience. Simply focusing on what you’re good at now is limiting; you could become skilled in many things that may not be your current strengths.
So how to proceed? According to 80,000 Hours, the best way to find your best work fit is to investigate: learn what options are available, narrow down your top choices, and start exploring. By exploring, they mean actually trying that type of work. The only way to really know what a job is like and whether it’s a good fit for you is to do it. There are many ways to get this kind of experience, from entry level positions to internships and even volunteering, but in all cases the goal is to get as close as possible to doing the actual work.
Obviously, you can’t try everything. The first step is listing the top options you’re interested in.
Here are a couple of things to consider when creating this list:
- What work have you enjoyed in the past?
- What topics have you enjoyed studying most?
- What jobs have you heard about that fascinate you?
- If money was no object, what would you do?
Once you have your full list, assign each option a number ranking. Think of how strong your interest in the job is, but also what you know about the job and how it may or may not fit with your personal needs and experience.
Next, determine which jobs ranked the highest on your list. For these top options, write out your key uncertainties. These are things you don’t yet know about a particular career that could change your mind, like hours or general pay rate. Once you’ve identified those uncertainties, do some quick research to find answers and adjust your ranking accordingly.
Now it’s time to explore.
Remember, the goal is to learn whether a career is a good fit for you, so focus initially on low-impact exploring. You can begin your research online or find people in a similar role you can talk to about their experience, the more people you speak with the better. Everyone has different experiences with different types of jobs; it’s important to get as many insights as possible. Then, look for short projects where you can get your feet wet without a long commitment. Alternatively, try your hand at jobs that let you work in a variety of industries or practice different skills. Using an app like JobStack gives you access to a variety of jobs where you can get a stronger idea of a role that fits you best.
The right job for you is out there, but it may not be obvious at first. Instead, explore your options. Try things for yourself and learn what’s right for you.