Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Career Choice

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

Getting to the Heart of Career Choice [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Wondering which occupation to choose? Follow the tips at

How do you choose a career?

The lucky ones just know what they want to do. Sometimes they are born knowing. My cousin knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was 5. He even wore doctor costumes for Halloween as a little kid. He has been a doctor for many years now and still loves it. I knew I wanted to be a writer since 7th or 8th grade and have never wavered. I have been an editor, a copywriter, a communications specialist, and a publisher. But every one of those jobs had writing at its core.

Some people are set on a career path by family members. Perhaps their dad was a teacher or their mom was in sales. These occupations are what they know. They follow—sometimes happily, other times unhappily—in their footsteps. When I had almost completed college, I recall meeting a fellow senior at the career center who was getting ready to graduate with an accounting degree. He told me he hated the field. He pursued accounting to please his father, and already his future was off to a sad start. I felt so sorry for him.

Other career seekers take career assessments and visit career counselors. I recommend both of these steps for anyone uncertain about a career choice. But just be sure to follow your heart as well. Recently I met a young woman who was transitioning to a career in youth ministry after five years as a nurse. She always knew she wanted to work in ministry. But her family and a school counselor discouraged her because of the field’s low pay. The counselor gave her a career test and found she would also make a good nurse. So nursing it was for five long, unhappy years, until she married a minister and gave herself permission to pursue her heart’s desire.

Other ways that people find careers of interest include job shadowing (where you watch someone do a job), volunteering, temping, and interning. These options let you try out a job to see if it suits you before committing to the career path, which may include substantial education and training. For other career research ideas, see my blog post, “Letter to Shy Young Person in Search of a Calling.” 

I also suggest occupational research. Shy and introverted people like this process because you can do it from the comfort of home. Two good resources for job information are by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The first is the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, which includes useful descriptions of the nation’s jobs and offers details on duties, qualities needed, education, pay, prospects, work environment, and more. Another option is the U.S. DOL’s website, which lets you explore careers in many ways and includes an online career assessment called the O*NET Interest Profiler; just click the start button under “I’m not really sure.”

For specific help on exploring careers that often appeal to introverts and shy people, see my blog post, “Exploring Introvert Careers That Avoid Phone Use, Conflict, Public Speaking."

I feel so bad for people in the wrong career. They spend so much of their time and their life dreading, hating, fuming about, and losing sleep over their work. Please don’t be one of these people! If you are one of these people, I hope this post helps you take some steps toward a career change.

Finally, always remember to follow your heart and your gut when choosing an occupation. When you choose correctly, you can put your heart right back into it.

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