How many times have you heard that in order to be successful, you should love what you do? However, if you love playing the guitar, the odds are fairly low that you’ll be able to make a good living doing that as your primary job. Your passions may not always translate into a career, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to choose a career path that makes you happy, fulfills you and allows you to utilize your strengths.
If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, follow these tips for choosing a career path that is right for you.
What Exactly Is A Career Path?
A job and a career path are not the same things. Both a job and a career allow you to earn a paycheck to support yourself and your family, but you should understand whether you’re choosing a job or choosing a career.
A job is something you perform to earn money to support your basic needs. It can be full-time, part-time, or temporary and not all jobs require a degree or specialized skills and training. You don’t necessarily feel attached to it, and you may hop around from job to job if you don’t like what you are doing.
When we talk about a career path, however, we mean a series of positions that you hold in a single field. With each new job, you gain additional knowledge, and over time you take steps forward and upward.
So, for example, a career path in retail might be: 1) sales associate 2) shift supervisor 3) assistant store manager 4) store manager 5) regional manager. In this example, a job (sales associate) turns into a career path over time. So, jobs can be a great way to choose a career. By trying out different jobs in different industries, you can find something that fits your skills, strengths and goals over the long term.
But what if you are in a job and you aren’t interested in a career path in that field? You’ll have to do some work to choose a path that is right for you.
Career Tips For Finding Your Path
You typically would not set out on vacation without knowing where you will be ending up. The same holds true for your career path. To be successful in your journey, you’ll want to be methodical and purposeful about where you want to end up and how you will get there. Use these career tips to find your path.
1. Outline your career goals
You can’t achieve your goals if you don’t set any. Start your journey towards a career path by engaging in some self-reflection. Ask yourself questions that will help you identify what it is you are looking for:
- What do I want from my career?
- What are my personal core values?
- What do I like doing every day at work?
- What do I not like doing every day at work?
- What do I enjoy doing in my spare time?
- What are my interests?
- What are my strengths and aptitudes?
- What soft skills do I have?
- What hard/technical skills do I have?
These types of questions will get you thinking about now only what you want to do, but what you’re good at doing. From there, you can determine what your goals are and what you want to achieve.
2. Create a five-year and ten-year plan
Once you have laid out your overall career goals, you’ll want to think about the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Where should you be in five years to remain on track? Where should you be in ten years?
Research what people in your chosen field are at five years into their careers and ten years in. What job titles do they hold? What steps did they take on their career paths?
Once you have an idea of where you need to be at each milestone, think about how you will get there. Will you need specialized training? Education? Licenses or certifications? By establishing career goals, you can plan based on what progress you should expect every year. Schedule time regularly to reflect on your career and goals.
3. Review your current status vs. what you need to achieve your career goals.
After you’ve spent some time looking forward and creating a vision for your career, think about where you are today and where you have been previously.
Which jobs have you had that you liked? Which have you not liked? What trends do you see in your past journey? What skills have you learned? What strengths have you honed?
Then, combine the two. Determine the skills/experience/strengths that put you in a good position to land a job that will start you out on a good career path. Then, identify the gaps – and there will be some gaps.
- Do you have enough years of experience to advance to your next target job?
- Do you know the industry well enough?
- Do you have enough education? The right certifications or licenses?
- Which skills or qualifications do you need to move forward?
You can’t leapfrog forward if you are missing years of experience or specific requirements to advance your career. You’ll need to map out a path for closing those gaps and determine how that fits into your five-year and ten-year plans.
4. Don’t forget to consider your salary needs
Salary is a practical consideration, and it’s one that should not be overlooked. If you want to grow your family while you are growing your career, for example, you will need to hit certain salary requirements.
You can research potential salaries on sites like salary.com Canada, Glassdoor Canada and Indeed Canada to determine whether your chosen path(s) will allow you to earn enough to not only cover expenses but also to enjoy leisure activities and save for your future and your family’s future.
When searching for salary data, make sure that you are putting in your correct target locations. For example, salaries in Toronto may differ from places like St. Thomas, Vaughn, New Market, London, Brampton or Woodbridge. You always want to see what the going rates are in your specific geographic market.
Career Tips For Finding Your Strengths
Working through these exercises to determine the right career path for you can be a challenge, especially when it comes to self-reflection exercises. Often, we find it easy to identify our weaknesses or skill gaps but find it difficult to accurately assess our true strengths. This is just human nature, so it pays to spend some time really exploring what it is you are good at so that you can find a career that aligns with your best skills and qualities.
1. Take a Career Aptitude Test
If you are truly unsure about what you want to do, a career aptitude test can be a good first step. Skill tests and interest inventories help you determine what you enjoy and what you are good at – and these things are not always the same. For example, you may be a whiz with numbers, but you don’t want to spend all day looking at spreadsheets. You might find that a better role is in logistics or working with machinery in a more industrial setting.
Looking for a good place to start? Try Rasmussen’s career aptitude test.
2. Test a variety of waters
You can imagine what a job will be like, but you never know unless you try it out. But breaking in can be a challenge. If you’re interested in testing potential career paths, you can work with a recruiter to help out.
A staffing agency is a great place to gain experience in a new industry or test potential career paths because they place people in temporary and contract roles. These jobs often do not require a significant amount of experience in a specific industry, allowing you to break in and try new jobs and work environments for several weeks or months. When you work with a recruiter, you often find that new doors open that would have remained closed if you were searching on your own.
3. Just Choose
If your ideal career path means you have to make a change in jobs, it’s easy to get caught up in analysis paralysis. You can spend years researching, learning, testing and dreaming. The best thing to do is just get started.
It can be scary to take a leap, but that’s also where working with a recruiter can help you achieve your goals. Find a staffing firm or recruiting firm that specializes in the industry you’re interested in and take the leap. Leveraging contract or temporary roles to start your journey means you don’t have to make a full commitment right out of the gate, and you can earn while you learn more about the field(s) you’ve chosen.
Ready To Work With A Recruiter To Find Your Career Path?
If you are ready to explore new career paths or you want to take the next step in your career journey, you’ll want to work with a recruiting and staffing firm that can match you to your ideal roles.
HCR is a leading light industrial staffing firm serving the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Southwestern Ontario. We work with leading employers in the following locations:
- St. Thomas
- New Market
Our recruiters can help you find jobs that align with both your immediate goals and your long-term career goals. Browse our current job openings or contact us today to learn more. We look forward to helping you achieve your career goals.