During our kindergarten years, our teachers or loved ones used to ask us what we’d like to be when we grew up. At the moment, we were so assertive that we’d become a doctor, astronaut, nurse, or teacher — jobs we most likely only knew then.
But as we grew older, our views and priorities in life changed, and so did our dream jobs.
Deciding on the right career path is difficult. For the most part, it isn’t easy because it will have lifelong effects on your future.
This article should help you decide which career path to take. It also breaks down the process of how to prepare your application materials to get to your dream job.
What is a career path?
According to The Balance Careers, a career path is “a sequence of jobs that leads to your short- and long-term career goals.” Some career paths can be linear within one field, but some can also jump from one field to another.
That said, you don’t need to follow a timetable or a blueprint to hit your career goals. Depending on how much planning you do, it may help you move forward, backward, or remain at the same position during your working years.
However you want to perform your job, at its core, a career path helps you determine how you might move from one position to another within a career trajectory.
How to Choose the Right Career Path for You
There’s a beautiful saying that goes, “Find a job that you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” Finding a job that brings you joy is often better than forcing yourself to do something you barely like.
If you’re one of those still unsure which career path to follow, consider using the guide below.
1. Begin with a personal assessment
First, think about what you want to do in life. Ask yourself questions, such as:
- What do I really want in life?
- What makes me happy?
- Which job will be challenging?
- What skills do I want to hone?
- What are my interests and hobbies?
- Where do I see myself working in the future?
From your answers, come up with an initial list of career options.
2. Take personality and career assessments
Do you feel like you need more career options? Take different career assessments or self-assessment tests, and note the results that appear.
Try tools that identify personality types like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, or the Jungian Type Index. You can also take career aptitude tests like Myplan.com or the MAPP Test to discover career tracks that best match your personality, needs, and goals.
3. Sift your list
When you’ve come up with an ample amount of potential career paths, break them down some more. Eliminate the careers that you don’t want to pursue and choose the ones that you’re really interested in.
4. Weigh out each potential career path
Assess every career path you’ve come up with depending on how it feels right for you. Classic pros and cons list will do the trick!
However, if weighing the pros and cons is too vague for you, you can also do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis.
First, under the Strengths column, list all of the positive things about a career path. Those would include your skills, talents, and hobbies that would help you pursue that path. Next, list under Weaknesses any lacking skills and disinterests you have related to the path. Then, on the Opportunities section, list skills that you can still hone should they be developed. Finally, put under Threats the possible restraints that’ll stop you from pursuing the career path.
5. Start networking
Meet people who are currently taking your potential career paths. Get helpful notes from them and talk with them about how it feels to have that career. They can provide firsthand experiences and knowledge about the career options you’re considering.
6. Make your choice!
When you have finally broken down and sifted through your options, choose your career path. Choose the one that feels right for you.
But what if your resources are limited?
Bo Sanchez, a Filipino author, posed this question in his book, Life Manual 101: How to Make Your Dreams Come True: “What should you do when your dreams are bigger than your resources?” In his book, he stated that we need to consider where our dreams came from to determine which career path is the best option.
Does it stem from pride or purpose? If it’s from the former, he suggested that you have to adjust your dreams to match your resources. If it’s the latter, he further recommended that you adjust your resources to meet your goals.
With this, while evaluating which career path to choose, do a lot of discerning. Understand that your choices today will affect your life later on. It’s beautiful to have big dreams, but you also need to recognize the restraints surrounding your goals.
Sometimes, we also need to think about what’s more realistic. When you’re down to picking the practical option, try to find value in your role. Focus on the areas of your job that you enjoy the most. For example, besides assessing the stability of a building or measuring a room value to a T, architects also design it aesthetically. If you love art, focus on making the building’s interior and exterior more beautiful. Shift your attitude towards your job to regain your sense of purpose and control.
Nonetheless, locate within yourself the very origin of your dreams and determine if it would bring good to you and your future.
Planning for Your Career Path
Decided on which career path to take? Good job! Now it’s time to take the next step: pursuing it.
Here’s how you can pave your career path — and make sure you stick to it.
1. Track your goals
Outline your short and long-term goals to help you make a feasible action plan. Then, review your progress each time and revisit your small wins.
An example of your long-term plan may be becoming the lead architect for a project. Your short-term goals would then include studying theories and statistics, becoming better at AutoCAD, enrolling in Architecture-related summer courses, or intern under your local architectural firms.
2. Create a list of companies you want to work for
A good company can help us achieve our career goals. It would also make our career paths as smooth as possible. So, aim to work under a company that offers you the best training or opportunities to climb the career ladder.
3. Work on your personal branding
Apply your character in everything you do. Be consistent and make a memorable impression so your audience and future employers would recognize your work even from afar.
One way to do this is to have a personal website or a social media channel that showcases your values and passions. This would work as your digital portfolio, which would come in handy depending on the career path you intend to follow.
4. Prepare your resume
When you have your portfolio ready, prepare your application needs like your resume.
Make sure to write your resume on a positive note so it grabs the recruiters’ attention. Essentially, your resume must include your name, work title, phone number, website URL, career summary, work history, skills, education, and personal interests.
You also need to design your resume to match your personal branding. As such, infuse design elements that best convey your character. If you have a specific font you often use on your website, apply it to your resume.
All in all, your resume must be job interview-ready and make you stand out as a candidate.
All the best!
No matter which career path you choose, always choose the best one for you. Continuously pursue a direction that feels right for you and something that would bring you growth professionally and personally.
Finally, if your plans don’t work out, adjust them according to the circumstances you’re in. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t pressure yourself too much by thinking your career is the be-all and end-all. It doesn’t follow a straight line or a timetable, and that is completely okay.