How do I choose a career that makes me happy?

Let’s face it: less than 40% of us are engaged at work. There is a problem with how we choose our careers.

Engaged people are people who have found jobs that offer them a fair level of satisfaction. Pay won’t do the trick. It is likely to be about having purpose or meaning. As Karen Dillon, co-author of bestseller How Will You Measure Your Life?, puts it: “Nobody wants to spend day after day in a job that doesn’t make them happy. How do you make sure yours does?”

How do I choose a career that makes me happy?

Our research offers a checklist with 4 key items.

1. Know your strengths

Only some of us have a clear picture of what our interests and strengths are. And then again, an even smaller number has clear passions. At Findmino we don’t believe it is necessary to have passions to be able to choose well. Passions may come and go, or develop later on. Finding out what your strengths and interestsare : that’s what matters.

Here are some useful questions and activities to explore.

  • What subjects or activities at school, work or privately make you stand out to peers. And how much do you actually enjoy them?
  • List your personal strengths and interests in more general terms. An effective method to do this, is by using our swipe quiz. Sign on for free to do the quiz and get your overall interests and preferences. It is based on the well known John Holland career test. The quiz shows to what extend you are Practical, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Investigative and Organized.
2. Define what’s meaningful to you

We like what Nathaniel Koloc says about this. He’s CEO of ReWork, a recruiting company for organizations that offer purposeful work.

  • Legacy is the first point. What do you want your work to result into. What is it that you want to achieve in the world. Help make advances in science? Help others? Make beautiful art? Invent new technologies? This gives you a good feel for the type of organizations or environments you may want to work in, or projects you may want to get involved with.
  • Mastery is the second one. What are the strengths you have that you want to improve. Taking the direction you want to go, what skills are most wanted there, and how do yours match. Is there enough overlap? What would be needed to bridge a gap? This could translate in your choice of further education or going straight to work.
  • Lifestyle is the third. This is about the kind of lifestyle you want to go after. How relevant is the big pay check versus having a balanced personal life? Is the investment in education and/or hard work going to be worth it? This could translate into the kind of employment you would be going after: working with a small company, a bigger one, being self employed etc.
  • Alignment is the fourth. What are the things you value you would like to see back at work, with colleagues. To start, check how much the organization or work environment is customer-focused, innovative, fun, ethical, research-driven, technology-driven, process-oriented, hierarchical, family-friendly and/or risk-taking. But ask people who work there about how people interact, what communications style exists. How much they feel valued as individuals.
3. Explore your options

What works best is to start viewing some majors or jobs to test what resonates well with you. When you are early in your career, don’t get too hung up on jobs per se though. Since many jobs disappear rapidly and new jobs are appearing continuously. But they give a good illustration of the kind of work you may be doing. And keep an open eye to career paths and new trends. Check our blog “Jobs without degrees are on the rise” as an example.

Findmino developed an extensive career database to do this exploration. And we include the latest jobs at leading companies in tech for instance. Browse jobs and majors by keyword, or perform the swipe quiz and receive matching career suggestions. For the quiz you will need to sign on (for free).

Bookmark or write down the jobs and majors that match well with the items 1 and 2 above.

4. Plan & execute

It depends on where you are in your career. When you’re early in your career, don’t be bothered too much about jobs titles, but try to describe what career direction would appeal to you, taking into account all of the above. List potential organizations you might want to work for and start tracking publications about them. Slowly start to identify people who work there or have worked there. Build your contacts to get to know more about these organizations.

When still at school, explore what electives or extra activities you can pursue to develop your skill set towards the career you want to take.

Now you’ve done your initial inventory of what you care about most, and what direction your career might take you, start testing it with people you respect. Consult with friends, a teacher you respect. someone who’s a few years ahead of you in the career direction you consider.

Make it a habit to check your actions and follow up on a monthly or quarterly base.

Take your time, adjust, and change again

How do I choose a career that makes me happy? Career choice is not a scientific project. It’s a journey that involves good research, ‘tasting’ (i.e. talking with job holders, professionals, taking an internship etc) and reflection. It’s exploring what makes you tick, what strengths you go, in what environment you thrive.

FindMino.com is set up with all this in mind. We offer a platform to explore and review, and draw your plan when you’re ready. Behind FindMino is a team of experienced and international education, psychology and human resources experts. We care about you being happy in your career.

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