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Saturday, November 27, 2010

How do I go about finding the ideal career for me?

This question is one of the toughest to answer because all I can really do is point a job-seeker in the right direction and offer some resources… you have to do all the work. You have to do the self-analysis and reflection. The good news is, though, that if you complete all my suggested exercises, you will not only have a better handle on your career direction, but you should have a better handle on who you are as a person.

Step 1: Develop a personal mission statement. What's your focus I life? What are the underlying forces that guide your decision-making? Most people have some kind of informal mission statement  developed by the people, religion, and philosophies around us. Now is the time to spend some time contemplating your life's mission and put words to paper.

Step 2: Conduct an interests self-assessment. Spend some time analyzing the things you really love to do and not just at work. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests? Develop a list of the things that you like to do as well as a list of things you do not like doing.

Step 3: Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself and your career. What is a SWOT analysis? It's a tool to help you look both internally at your strengths and weaknesses as an employee as well as the opportunities and threats in your current (or future) career field. It's a tool that we use in analyzing businesses and industries all the time. The goal is not simply a snapshot of where you are when you complete the analysis, but the development of strategies for how you can capitalize the situation. If you still do not have one career path in mind, take the time to research the careers that do interest you.

Step 4: Complete a workplace values self-assessment. Job-seekers expect to achieve certain ideals from their jobs, employers, and careers. These workplace values, concepts, and ideas that you hold dear have a direct impact on your satisfaction with your job, with your career, and even with your life. When you understand the values you cherish most highly, you can make an evaluation about whether your current employer (or a prospective employer) supports those values.

Finally, if you are still having some difficulty with finding career direction  even after completing all these steps, I strongly recommend that you find a guidance counselor, career counselor, or other career professional who can work with you on a one-to-one basis and help you develop a career plan.

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

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