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It’s not always easy to choose the right career for you. Where do you even start? The traditional three-step career plan to graduate from university, find a job and work your way up the ladder for the next 40 years, is outdated. Professionals today swap job titles like kids trading snacks during lunch time. They’re toggling between many companies, teams and industries throughout the course of their careers. The upside to this trend is that as a young professional starting out in the working world, you’ll have many choices throughout your career. So where do you see yourself?

When the time comes for you to choose a career, you’ll see you have many options. It's difficult to pick just one, especially if you have no idea what you want to do. It might be a daunting task but it’s easier if you give yourself time to think about it. The idea of a “job for life” is becoming a thing of the past. But the field of work you choose is important because it’ll determine where you’ll spend a good deal of your working life. It’ll also define the opportunities you should embrace by making use of your skill set. So it’s important that you choose and select a field that encompasses as many of your talents as possible.

Here are five tips to ensure you make the right career choice.

Test yourself

Before you can choose the career that’s right for you, you should learn and understand yourself first. What type of person are you? What’s special about you? Your values, interests and soft skills combined with your personality type will make some positions a good fit for you. Make use of self-assessment tools, also called career tests, to gather information about your traits and characteristics. Subsequently, you could also generate a list of occupations that are a good fit based on them. Many people choose to work with a career counselor or other career development professionals who can help them navigate this process. Nothing’s stopping you from doing the same.

Make a list of different careers to explore

You’ll have a long list of occupations in the back of your mind. To keep yourself more organised, combine them into one master list. You should first look for careers that appear on many lists and copy them onto a blank page. Your self-assessment showed that the occupations on that list are a good fit for you based on several of your traits. So it’s definitely worth considering them. Then you should also find any occupations on your lists that appeal to you. It might include careers you know a bit more about and want to explore further. You could also include professions which you know little about. Who knows, you might learn something unexpected.

Create a short list

After creating your list, you should begin to narrow down your list even more. Based on your research, you can cut the careers you don’t want to pursue any further. You shouldn’t have more than between two and five occupations on your short list. There might be jobs on your list with duties that don’t appeal to you. You may also discover a career that look interesting but has few opportunities for growth. And you’re unable to fulfill the educational or other requirements of a specific occupation. Or you may lack some of the soft skills necessary to succeed in it. If your reasons for finding a profession unacceptable are non-negotiable, remove it from your list.

Make your career choice

After doing all your research, you should feel ready to make your career choice. It’s important to pick the occupation you think will bring you the most satisfaction based on all the information you’ve gathered. And make sure you know what’s expected of you when following your specific career. If you, for instance, want to follow the entrepreneurial route, you should know how to manage a business and how to finance things like equipment. All this need to be considered before going into a career. And of course, it’ll be taught to you when doing your specific course.

What are your goals?

Once you’ve chosen the right career for you, it’s time to identify your long and short-term goals. It’ll be difficult to work in the field you choose if you don’t set goals. Your long-term goals take about three to five years to reach while you can usually fulfill a short-term goal in six months to two years. The research you did about the required education and training, can guide you. And if you don’t have all the details, you should do more research. Once you have all the needed information, you can set your goals.

Deciding which career is right for you can be an overwhelming process. So rather than focusing on identifying a direct path, determine your own needs and goals first.

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