Do You Really Know What Career You are Meant For?

new career choice

Choosing a career probably begins in college. You declare a major based upon your interests at the time; you may change majors based on your changing interests. And the continued and rapid changes in technology, the economy, and business environments may change your career for you. In fact, some predictions claim that you will actually change careers, not just jobs, 5-7 times during your work life.

All of these factors make choosing a career right now difficult. The thing you love to do may be obsolete, and you may fall out of love.

Losing the Myths First

There are some pieces of advice that you may receive that are really just myths. So, let’s dump those first:

Just Get with a Career Counselor and You’ll Find the Right Career

Wrong. Here is what a career counselor can do. S/he can help you learn about yourself, and give you interest inventories that will point out talents, skills, and strengths. And you will then be given a list of careers that are a match for these things. In the end, though, the decision is yours to make. And as you look at possible careers, if you don’t get excited about any of them, go back to the beginning. Never choose something that doesn’t excite you – it will be expensive in both time and money spent on education/training.

Keep Your Hobbies in Their Place – They are Just Hobbies

So not true. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had hobbies – they turned into mammoth enterprises. And others have tried to turn hobbies into careers and discovered that they really didn’t want to “do” that hobby full-time. Assess your skills and talents related to a hobby you might be considering. Loving golf or tennis does not make you pro material. However, you could look at related fields, such as in sports management, teaching, etc.

Go for the Money

Yes, money is a big motivator. But don’t make it the only factor in career choice. You will rue the day you took on a career you hate just for the money. Find the balance between your interests and income potential.

Go For the “Best Jobs” List

Every year, several organizations publish a list of the best careers. If one of them is of big interest to you, great. But don’t choose one just because someone else says it is a great and stable career. Things change very rapidly.

If You Choose the Wrong Career, you are Stuck Forever

Re-read the introduction. You will definitely not be stuck in one career.

You Really Won’t Understand a Career Until You Get in It

This does not have to be. You can talk to others in the field; you can apply for internships. You can do some research and read

So, How Do You Know?

The short answer is that you may not really know. Most advice that you get from published materials and career websites tells you that same things, and there is nothing wrong with the following advice:

  1. Assess your skills, your personality, your strengths and your values. You may have a pretty good handle on your skills and strengths, but have you had a personality assessment? Do you know if you are primarily an introvert or an extrovert? Do you know if you prefer thinking or doing? These are the things that will help determine your career choice. What are your values? These too will determine your choice. If you are politically a progressive, for example, you will not choose a career in investment banking or in a field that does not value the environment. If your values include helping others, then there are specific careers that will allow that – education, social work, etc.
  2. Do the research and look at the options that are a match for what you have determined in #1. Make a list.
  3. Do some informational interviewing – talk to people in the careers on your list. Find out what they like and don’t like about what they do. Get a handle on all of the details of their task responsibilities.
  4. Develop a short list. Narrow your choices, and give yourself a small amount of time to think about those choices. List the pros and cons of each of those choices and choose the one with the most pros.

Are You Promotion or Prevention-Focused?

In 2014, Heidi Halvorson and E. Rory Higgins published a book titled, Focus: Use different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence. The idea behind this book is that people are notoriously bad at predicting what will make them happy, and that includes career choice.

According to the authors, there are two motivators in adult life – promotion or prevention.

Promotion-focused people look for opportunities to advance, achieve, and receive rewards – monetary and/or otherwise,

Prevention-focused people are more concerned with security – not losing what they are able to obtain. These people feel a strong sense of responsibility and want to avoid insecurity.

According to the authors, everyone is promotion and prevention-focused, but, like anything else, they have a stronger tendency toward one or the other. And each has very specific personality traits and behaviors.

The Promotion-Focused

Individuals who have a more dominant promotion focus are typically:

  • Risk-takers
  • Creative and Innovative
  • Tend to be Impulsive and Fast Acting

The down-size of this behavior is that they may be more prone to make errors but to be far more optimistic.

The Prevention-Focused

Those who have this as a stronger tendency are typically:

  • Focused on detail and being thorough
  • Engage in analysis and reason
  • Want Accuracy
  • Are Responsible and Reliable
  • Consider Potential Problems Regularly

These people are uncomfortable with change and risk. They prefer to work more deliberately and slowly.

It’s important for you to determine what your dominance is before you consider career choices. This, according to the authors, will be a big factor in satisfaction with your career/job.

Career Fits Based Upon Focus Dominance

If you have correctly identified your focus dominance, there are certain careers for which you are better suited.

Promotion-Focused people should seek out careers that offer potential for fast advancement, and in fast-paced work environments – maybe free-wheeling tech startups – careers where they can take risks and be creatively innovative.

Prevention-focused people should seek careers and organizations that offer security and a stable environment. These might be as corporate lawyers, data analysts, teachers/professors, etc.


There’s a lot of discussion right now about millennials and “youngers” who find entrepreneurship preferable to a career working for someone else or a traditional organization.

At first glance, it may seem that a promotion-focused person is the ideal for entrepreneurship, but Halvorson states that in fact, successful entrepreneurs have a good mix of both focuses. The promotion-focused will take risks and embrace innovative thought and action; however, without protection focus too, such an individual may be unable to do the “grunt” work and work deliberately through obstacles and issues. Perhaps, she says, this is why so many successful businesses have been partnerships between two who each have a separate dominant focus.

Still Confused?

You are not alone. If you are in school right now, pursue your strong interests and look to those fields in which you seem to excel academically. If you are not in school but looking for education/training programs, do your research and talk to people in those career fields you are considering.

This guest post was authored by Ashley Kornee

ashley kornee choosing a career

Ashley Kornee is a blogger and freelance writer. She always tries to write about ordinary things in a creative way.  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

You may also like...