Struggling to pick a career?

Action will always remove the doubt that theory cannot solve. – Petryl Hsieh

Taking any action at all can help chip away at the uncertainties faced when picking a career. The action can be as small as reaching out to contacts to temping with a company for insight into a particular industry. You don’t need to invest all your savings in launching a business or attend years of graduate school to gauge if a new direction you are contemplating in life will be a good fit for you. But you do need to do something. If you allow your imagination to be the tour guide of your future life, you are taking a serious gamble according to Harvard Psychologist, Dan Gilbert.

According to Gilbert people are poor predictors of what will make them happy due to our imagination’s shortcomings. Our imaginations tend to leave out important details and conjure up details that aren’t accurate. On top of this, when looking into the future we can’t help but project our current mood, when in reality things will feel much differently when they happen.

  1. Don’t Rely on Hunches When Deciding on a Career Path

So what is the solution to all this madness? Gilbert suggests we do away with trying to guess our future feelings and instead base our predictions on the experience of others who have achieved what we are setting out to do. If you’re interested in being an accountant, find out how accountants feel about their work. As you do this, try not to assume you will feel much differently than those you speak with. We all have far more commonalities than we do differences, despite whatever complexities you may hold about being a unique individual.

  1. Pay Attention to the People in the Careers You’re Interested In

One of the great advantages of the world today is that you don’t need to ask a third degree connection on LinkedIn to coffee to find out if they like the job you want. Instead you can do a quick search on Youtube and you’ll find a selection of videos to watch. You’ll need to pick up on nonverbal cues to get a full picture of how someone truly feels about their job. Are they smiling? Are they exhausted just talking about their job? Do they seem like the kind of person you’d get along with? People within a particular profession tend to be more homogenous than not. If you seem to fit the mould, chances are you’re onto something.

  1. Find Out What Job Tasks You Will Spend the Most Time On

Make sure that the videos you watch or the people you talk to give you a fairly detailed picture of what their day looks like. When deciding on a job, it’s important to get a good idea of what that job actually entails. Yes, we all know each position will likely have an administrative component or one of those other job duties commonly loathed, but most people will not actually know the core aspects of a job other than what they gather from the media (i.e. Hollywood). A prime example of a misunderstood occupation is that of a lawyer.

  1. Ignore Televised Dramas of the Career You Want

Now obviously a core component of being a lawyer is representing the rights and interests of the client. But is it so obvious that unless you work in a not-for-profit, earning a salary that barely covers your bills, that you will most likely represent a corporate entity or clients you will rarely interact with? Or that you may never step foot in a court room to argue a case (98% of cases settle outside of court)? Or that even if you do argue your case, it will be based on legal technicalities and not well…justice? You should probably also be aware that the legal enterprise is not a particularly dramatic one. Suits and Law & Order may often have you at the edge of your seat, but working as a lawyer will mostly have you comfortably sifting through paperwork and self-soothing with scotch.

On average millennials are changing jobs less than every two years now. Avoid this job hopping trend by investigating the reality of what you are pursuing and not some poorly supported ideal.

  • Written by  a candidate of Quay Appointments Tracey MacCorquodale


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