The difference between a job and a career is ultimately how you feel about an opportunity in the bigger picture – a job is simply something you do for the short-term paycheck, while a career is a cohesive, long-term compilation of related jobs that build upon one another. If you are ready to move beyond just having a job and are ready to find a career, try out these strategies:
Get Crystal Clear on What You Want
Do some serious contemplation on the overall lifestyle you want to live, including financial, work-life balance, type of work environment, personal obligations, time for travel or to devote to hobbies, etc. Having clarity on what you want out of life can help you determine what type of career opportunities will align with it and narrow your focus on the positions for which you pursue.
Analyze Your Traits, Interests, and Strengths
Figuring out what career is right for you requires deep introspection of what you’re naturally suited for, from your personal values and interests to what skills you excel at and your characteristics. To start analyzing yourself, think back to when you were a child and what you enjoyed doing or reflect on what you would do with your days if money were no object. Also, ask family, friends, and trusted mentors what types of careers they could see you in. Once you gain a clear consensus on your unique combination of traits, interests, and strengths, you can see what careers would make the best use of them and start looking for roles.
Take Inventory of Your Qualifications
Once you have a sense of what direction you want your career to take, review your own skills, experience, and education to figure out areas that you may need to build on in order to be given serious consideration for opportunities. If you find you are lacking in key areas, develop a plan to gain the additional qualifications you will need, such as completing a certification program.
Invest in Building Your Network
Landing a job that fits into your overall career plan, rather than just being a means to an end, will typically require more time and effort since your prospects are more narrowly defined. To learn about the opportunities that will build your career, invest in building your network. Forming professional relationships, such as keeping in touch with former colleagues or getting to know professionals in your desired industry from events, can help you get advice, job leads, and recommendations that can positively influence the direction of your career.
Explore the Possibilities
You may not realize what types of positions or companies will truly be the best fit until you try them out. For example, many people assume they only want to work for large companies, but after trying out a smaller organization, they find they much prefer it. Explore the possibilities for your career by trying out different things, such as doing volunteer work, freelance or contract assignments, or temporary employment, to see what is right for you.
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