Why are you reading this article? Maybe because you are looking for your first job or are contemplating a career change. We’ve all been at a point when we are trying to figure out what we should do with the rest of our lives. Whether you are just graduating and entering the workforce, or contemplating a career change, finding a career you love can be tricky. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, less than half of Americans are “very satisfied” with their job. That leaves a lot of people in mid-career who might be looking to make a change. And it should serve as a warning to younger workers that finding a great job early on is critical to happiness later in life.
So, what should you look for to find that job you love getting up for in the morning? That’s the million-dollar question, and you’ll find a lot of different answers. No one can guarantee you will end up liking a job or career path, but there are things you can look for to help guide you in the process. Keeping some general rules during your job search can increase the likelihood you will find a career you love.
Set Realistic Goals
Sure, finding what you love sounds like an open box to go for anything under the sun. And in an ideal world that would be great, but you need to be realistic. If the career you are setting your sites on requires a Master’s Degree, and you don’t have the money or the time to get you there, that’s a problem. You need to think through the reality of getting to your dream, and understand the work it will take to get you there. For instance, you may need to start by finding a job in an industry that requires less schooling, but gets your foot in the door. That will give you some good insights with minimal investment and position you to move forward to your eventual goal.
Analyze Your Talents
Sometimes finding a career you love is sitting right in front of you. We all have natural talents and things we love to do. Maybe it’s a special hobby you have, or a sport you like to play, but you’ve never considered it something to make a career out of. Well, spend some more time thinking about how you might create an income stream using these talents. There are more ways than ever to create small businesses out of our passions.
Check out websites like Etsy for example. This is a company that allows thousands of people to generate income using their creative talents in fashion, arts, crafts, and many other niches. Or another great place is Upwork, a site dedicated to freelance work of all different kinds. Take a look at these sites to see how people are using their skills and passions to earn money as freelancers and small businesses.
Lastly, keep in mind that more remote work opportunities are available than ever before. That means you can work for companies even if they are not in your direct geographical region. Think outside the box and find companies that align with your talents and passions.
Talk to a Mentor
Sometimes there are people we trust, and who know us better than others in this world. If you have someone who fits in this category, ask them to help you think through new career opportunities. No matter how much we think we understand ourselves, we typically miss something, and others often have valuable perspective. Getting this information before making a leap into a new career can deliver invaluable information as we think through what careers might be right for us in the long term.
Creating a great network can really help you find a career you love by talking with other people with real world experience. There is no substitute for talking with people who have lived the career you are thinking about. Regardless of how much you think you know, there’s a difference between perception and reality with most jobs. No career is perfect, so before embarking on this important journey, use your current network, or build a new one, to speak with people in the industry you are considering.
Think Outside Your Education
One problem when trying to find a career we absolutely love is being married to our education. Now, this is not to say you shouldn’t value what you’ve learned in school or college. Hopefully, you’ve chosen wisely, and your degree aligns with the things you want to do in your career. But if you’ve been in the workforce for a while, working in the industry you were trained for, it’s ok to consider moving in a new direction. You may need to go back for some additional training, but many careers only require between 6-24 months to earn a certificate or degree.
An example of this would be a nursing career. You can become a practical nurse with a year’s worth of training. Or you can become a Registered Nurse with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing that only takes two years. From there you can get working, and if you’re interested in even more advanced degrees in nursing, the opportunities are plentiful. And this is just one career path that offers these types of opportunities.
The Bottom Line
Finding rewarding work might seem easy when you are young, but most people with experience know it can be a real challenge. It can be difficult to find the right mix of industry, employer, and job that lead to work you love doing on a daily basis. There are many things to think through when searching for a career. If you stay committed, think outside of the norm, and connect with the right people, chances are you can find a great career. Over time, we’ve seen people who fit into all spectrums of happiness at work, and trust us, it’s worth the effort to find that job.
About the author: Kevin Denholm is a serial entrepreneur, former business consultant, and the Founder of NextAdvocate.com, a company committed to changing our education system. By helping students earn degrees in less time without massive student debt we can change the future of millions for the better.