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Undecided between careers? Here’s how to choose one

June 6, 2022 - 13 min read

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How to make a career choice when you are undecided

What are some tips for making the right career choice?

What are some popular career choices?

Your next move

Even people well into adulthood can sometimes wonder what they want to be when they grow up. 

Researching jobs and reading through job descriptions can help. And taking career tests and personality type quizzes may reveal your optimal career. But in reality, the process of landing the right career is hard, and, often, ongoing. 

Decision-making when it comes to your career takes time. This decision will impact the rest of your life. Although, of course, changing careers is always an option.  

If you’re feeling daunted by this task, take a look at this step-by-step strategy to help you make a career choice.

 

 

How to make a career choice when you are undecided

Thousands of career options are waiting for you to pick them. Having lots of options is wonderful — but can also be overwhelming. That’s why it helps to take it one piece at a time. With these eight steps, you’ll feel more organized and focused on what you can do to make an informed career choice.

1. Think deeply about yourself

We all feel a little awkward when we talk about our strengths and weaknesses, but it’s necessary for your future career. Find a quiet space and sit down with yourself.

Think about your values, hobbies, and soft skills. Take a moment to list out what you’re good at.

Imagine your future self: What would be your preferred lifestyle and schedule? Look for careers that meet those preferences. . Take one, or several, career aptitude tests to get an idea of what jobs are out there that match your desired lifestyle.

2. Create a broad list of careers

All of those career tests have given you some ideas. Write them down in any order and have a good read-through. Reflect on what you learn about yourself, and match your characteristics to these careers. It’s also helpful to consider your personal values and your work values.

You might scratch some careers off the list immediately, but others may pique your interest. There could be careers that you never considered or thought of on your list. Compiling your options is an excellent starting point when you start to explore specific careers in more detail.

3. Start investigating your list

Now that you have some options to explore, it’s time for some basic research into the careers you have on your list right now. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you review the options on your list: 

  • Where are these job opportunities located? 
  • Would they force you to live somewhere specific? Is that something you want?
  • What educational background is required to succeed in this field? 
  • Are hours long or short in this career? What kind of overall lifestyle is common? 
  • What are the salary expectations? 

You may also need to narrow things down a bit. For example, you may feel certain that you want to work in healthcare, but are less aware of which particular role is right for you.

4. Shorten your list

You probably encountered some deal-breakers in the previous step that crossed off some career options. That’s a good thing. Narrowing down your list based on your research helps focus your decision.

Aim to create a list of five potential careers. If you haven’t gotten there yet, try getting rid of jobs that come with duties you know you don’t like or have requirements you don’t have any interest in fulfilling.

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5. Talk to people in those fields of study

Reaching out to those who have chosen your potential future career can give you insight that job descriptions can’t. The firsthand knowledge and honest opinions they give you could help steer you in the right direction.

Networking allows you to ask questions about how they manage their time and have a healthy work-life balance. If they’ve recently started working in that profession, you can ask how they’ve adjusted to their new role or how they earned the position.

Having support from someone while you make this career decision can help you evaluate your options more clearly. A BetterUp coach can provide the objective guidance you need to find clarity in this overwhelming decision and stay on your career path.

6. Think of your life goals

When you think about your goals, you should evaluate how they impact your professional and personal life. Do you want to spend a lot of time with your family? Then maybe a career that forces you to travel constantly isn’t right for you.

Identifying your goals in life will help you understand yourself as a whole person, not just someone with a job. Write down the long- and short-term goals that you hope to achieve, and make sure your career will let you do it.

7. Make your career choice

It’s finally time to choose your career path. But wait: if you’re not ready, you’re not ready. Perhaps you want to do more research or take some extra time, which is perfectly fine.

Trust the research and effort you’ve put into this decision, and understand that you aren’t making a life-long commitment with no chance of going back. People make career changes all the time and at any age. You shouldn’t feel trapped with your decision.

8. Write out a plan

After you’ve come to your conclusion, how will you achieve your future career? Career planning isn’t just deciding what job you want, but also how you’re going to get there. Write out what you need to accomplish.

Do you need your GED, or are there training programs or online courses you need? How many certifications does your job require? Planning out the steps you need to take will help give you an idea about the cost involved and how long until you can start working.

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What are some tips for making the right career choice?

You can practice little strategies to help you along your decision-making journey. To make a good career choice, it’s more than just following those past eight steps. It can also be helpful to keep these tips in mind as you consider how to make the right career choice: 

  1. Be aware of how other factors influence you
  2. Never forget your strengths
  3. Volunteer in your possible professions
  4. Consider how you want your career to support you financially 
  5. Take your time — don’t feel like you have to rush the process
  6. Be patient with yourself, and keep in mind this is a challenging task
  7. Reflect on what subjects in high school you enjoyed
  8. Think about your dreams in life but try to understand why — what is it about these dreams that appeals?

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What are some popular career choices?

To help give you an idea of what many people consider in their job search, we’ve compiled a list of popular career choices.

Here are six choices that are favorites among plenty of people:

  1. Construction worker: We have this role to thank for highways, buildings, and also maintaining our communities, too. There are new developments being built each day that need team members.
  2. Web developer: Lots of workplaces have either transitioned to completely remote working, or a hybrid model. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that web developers will see a 13% employment growth between 2018 and 2028.
  3. Healthcare professionals: If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we value our healthcare workers. Studies have suggested that there will soon be a greater demand for healthcare workers than before the pandemic began. This includes doctors, nurses, healthcare aides, and more.
  4. Data Scientist: There are reports that by 2026, there will be a 27.9% increase in employment for data scientists. This is a versatile and applicable career for many industries.
  5. E-Commerce: Online shopping has become even more popular. Retail stores, grocery chains, and other shopping stores have had to adapt to selling things online, and that’s where a career in e-commerce comes in handy.

    In a global survey, nearly 75% of people who shopped online for the first time in 2020 say they’d continue to use them for future shopping. That shows that this will be a relevant job for years to come.

  6. Software engineer: This career path includes software development too, which is predicted to see an employee increase by 22% between 2019 and 2029. Since we use and keep developing our technology, the complexity of it increases too. That’s why being a software engineer will be a steady and secure job for years to come.

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Your next move

Your next move will come when you’re ready. Choosing your future career isn’t a decision you can rush or that you’ll make very well if you feel pressured. 

Don’t forget that this is the life you’re thinking about. It’s your passions and values that need to be front and center, so make sure you listen to yourself.

Sometimes we need someone to remind us that we need to follow our passions and put our needs first. At BetterUp, we can provide the perspective you need to make the career choice that lets you live a life full of happiness.

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Published June 6, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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