Stuck On Picking A Career


Sometimes we get stuck right? I mean, we have a vague idea of what it is we think we’d like, but as I say, it’s a vague or general idea. This is when we say things such as,, “Well I’d like to work with animals,” “I want to help people”, or “I’m good with my hands.” While these kind of statements are good starting places and represent an early first step in career decision-making, some people will get stuck moving beyond one of these broad sweeping statements.

While it might seem pretty common for people in their late teens and early 20’s to be typically thinking about what to do career-wise and getting stuck, it can happen to anyone at any time. Take you . Uh huh, you.

Have you got one of those LinkedIn titles that says, “Open to new opportunities”? No? Maybe yours says, “Looking to make a difference!” or “Seeking new challenges.” Ah, so you do have one of these or something close to one.  Even after having read any of these three, the reader is still no closer to knowing what it is you want. This is because you don’t either. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you’re being deliberately vague so you keep your options open. Sure. I’ve seen a lot of resumes over the years that start with the same kind of statements; “Looking for an opportunity to use my skills and grow with the company”. Even after having read that opening objective statement, the goal is still completely unknown. What a waste of 13 words on the résumé!

The problem however, is defining not just to the world, but to ourselves, what it is we want to do. If we could do that, then we could figure out the steps we need to take to move closer to our goal. We could for example figure out that we need a certain Diploma, Course or Degree and then happily invest the time and money to go pursue it; confidently knowing that we’re on the right track and with every day getting closer to our ultimate employment goal.

However, isn’t the real issue here that we don’t often know – that is – YOU don’t know what the end goal is? I mean, that’s what makes the idea of school and its associated cost so intimidating right? I mean, sure going to school to get more knowledge is great but with no goal, what if we choose wrong? What if we end up spending thousands of dollars and 2 or 3 years of our life in school only to find that we don’t really want to do whatever it is we’re in school for by the time we graduate? That would definitely be a waste of time and money and we’d be no further ahead. Or so we’ve told ourselves over and over.

So you’re paralyzed; stuck. Every day seems like spinning the same record around and around, trying to decide what to do? What to be? Look up the song, “Big Time Operator” by Keith Hampshire. Figure out this one thing and you’re good to go.

Okay so let’s see if we can’t help out here. Start with giving yourself both the permission to get going and forgiveness if you get it wrong. Who told you that you have to get it right this time or your entire life is a failure? That’s just not true. Work, for all its worth, is only one part of who you are; one part of what defines you.

To find a career, let me simplify things. First you need to be exposed to some possibilities and then you investigate them. You can gain exposure to careers a number of ways. Talk to people and ask them what they do, ask your local employment centre what careers are in demand, use the internet and search careers in your vague, generalized areas of choice. “Helping people careers”, “Jobs with animals” or “Physical jobs”, “Manual labour careers”.  You can also search what are called, “NOC CODES.” National Occupation Classification codes. You can search by skills, or even an alphabetical listing and see what jobs exist; many you might be entirely unaware of. So these ideas give you exposure.

Now, having exposed yourself to more possibilities that might interest you, choose a few and start investigating. Before looking to see how much the job is in demand or how much it pays, you’ll want to know if this is something that only sounds good or if it sounds good and in fact it interests you once you’ve done some research.

Find people in the roles you’re considering and talk to them. Set up meetings, email them some questions, have some conversations. Learn what’s good and bad, what skills and education are needed, how they got started and how they’d get started today if they were just beginning as things may have changed. Then ask them for the names of others you might talk to.

The more you learn, the more you’ll feel the job is right for you or not. When you start getting enthusiastic about a job, look into education requirements, the labour market, where the opportunities are. Still interested? Feeling on the right track? That’s because you are! But to get to this point, you have to get moving.

Remember how long you’ve been stuck where you are and know that continuing to do nothing won’t move you forward.

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