What Job Is Right for Me? How to Choose a Job in 2020

By Mike Simpson

What job is right for me? What professional hasn’t asked themselves that very question?

While a select few may have been lucky enough to figure out their niche early in life, that isn’t the norm. At times, figuring out the “what career is right for me” question involves trial and error.

Sometimes, the answer to “what job should I have” changes over time, too.

Why?

Because people change. What interested you as a young adult, college student, or newly minted professional might spark passion down the line. And that’s okay.

Luckily, if you know how to determine what job is best for you, you can revisit the process whenever you need to. That way, if it’s time to send your career off in a different direction, you can choose one that will leave you excited, energized, and poised for success.

If you’re asking yourself, “What job is right for me?” here’s what you need to know…

Things to Consider

Choosing a career can be complicated. If it weren’t, every person would nail it the first time. And, considering that 30 percent of professionals view their positions as “just a job to get them by” rather than a meaningful career, that obviously doesn’t happen.

There are a lot of points you have to consider along the way that will either broaden or narrow your options. With any luck, if you reflect on enough of them, you can create a reasonable list of positions to explore in greater depth.

So, what exactly do you need to consider? Well, usually, it’s best to reflect on a few key questions, including:

    • What subjects, tasks, or activities pique my interest?
    • Is there anything I’m particularly passionate about?
    • Where do my strengths lie?

Typically, questions like those will help you figure out what sort of career category might work. It lets you focus on arenas that make you feel excited about the possibilities, which is a good starting point.

However, you don’t want to start there. While enthusiasm and strong capabilities are certainly important, you also have to consider the logistics.

Jobs have different skill and educational requirements. Additionally, not all positions are available in certain areas, and they don’t have the same salaries. A standard work schedule in different fields can also vary. As a result, it’s wise to consider these questions, too:

    • Am I open to getting more education?
    • Can I afford the training I would need?
    • Is relocating for a job something I can (or want to) do?
    • Do I need to make a certain amount of money?
    • Can I work a set schedule, or do I need flexibility?
    • How do I feel about overtime or a workweek over 40 hours?

By reflecting on those questions, you start to carve out what your ideal career looks like. You’re answering the “what job is best for me” question one step at a time, narrowing down your choices based on your interests and your reality.

Career Quizzes – Useful or Not?

Career quizzes are everywhere. Some claim to be scientific, while others are for “entertainment purposes only.” The trick is, do any of them work?

Well, while a career aptitude test or job quiz can potentially give you some interesting information, there’s a big problem; careers tests are almost always incomplete.

First, no career quiz on the planet can include every potential job. That’s just not possible. Second, they can’t account for your life or financial goals, job growth potential, current skillset, or many preferences.

Now, that doesn’t mean that career quizzes are completely useless. At times, they can introduce you to ideas you might have overlooked before.

Just, if you do take one, don’t put all of your eggs in that basket. Instead, follow it up with a practical approach to figuring out your direction, like the step-by-step one below.

MIKE'S TIP: Did you know that taking a bunch of career aptitude tests can do more harm than good? It’s true. It isn’t uncommon to get wildly different results from each one, leaving you more confused than you were before you took them. Resist the urge to pile them on, or simply avoid them all to play it particularly safe.

Steps for Choosing the Right Job

When it comes time to answer the critical question, “What job is right for me?” using a step-by-step approach is a smart move. It allows you to narrow down your options methodically based on major priorities.

If you’re trying to choose the best job for you, here’s what you need to do.

1. Start with Your Passions

While it sounds a bit cliché, that doesn’t mean starting with your passions isn’t a good idea. By focusing on subjects and activities that you find exciting, intriguing, or engaging, you’re doing something critically important.

What are you doing?

Well, you’re making sure that the hard times you’ll face won’t feel unnecessarily miserable. Every career comes with challenges. But, if you’re passionate about your niche, the idea of dealing with them isn’t as daunting.

Additionally, this will help you figure out if pursuing additional education in those areas is worthwhile. If a subject or career really doesn’t spark your interest, getting a degree in it is a chore. In fact, you might even burn out before you get a diploma, causing you to potentially spend a lot of money on training you’ll never use.

You want to make sure that you genuinely enjoy at least some part of your new profession. While some of the tasks that come with any job will be a drag (that’s just life), if most of the activities are fun and interesting, you’ll be in good shape.

2. Reflect on Your Strengths

Taking your strengths into consideration is a good idea. Now, that usually doesn’t mean technical capabilities. After all, nearly all hard skills can be learned if you genuinely want to have them.

However, soft skills are harder to develop. Certain traits are a bit more innate, and those can influence whether a career is a good fit.

Think of it this way; if you were an introvert who doesn’t like talking to strangers, outbound sales might not be a great fit. In fact, having to cold-call people could actually be a nightmare. Even if you genuinely believed in the product or service, you might end up miserable in the job.

While you can develop your soft skills, you might value the traits you currently have. If that’s the case, it’s better to find a job that aligns with your personality from the beginning, allowing you to make the most of what you already bring to the table.

3. Consider the Money

Sure, money doesn’t buy happiness; we all know that. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a critical part of the equation.

Financial security can make you, well, feel better about where you are in life. However, how you define financial security may differ from how others see it.

Take a moment to think about your long-term financial goals. Do you want to buy a house? Be able to send your kid to college debt-free? Travel the world without a second thought?

The idea is to figure out what your ideal lifestyle looks like. Then, you can estimate how much you’d need to earn to make that a reality, allowing you to focus on career options that could meet that need.

4. Think About Schedules

Many professions come with a pretty standard 40-hour workweek. But that isn’t technically the only option on the table.

Some jobs may let you earn a full-time-style salary by working closer to 20 hours. Others might provide you with a massive income, but they take 60-, 70-, or 80-hour workweeks to pull that off.

Additionally, a position might have a set schedule, like a traditional 8-to-5. However, others are highly flexible, allowing you to work at any time, day or night, as long as you meet deadlines.

How much time and when you need to work are important factors. If you want to make sure you can figure out “what career is right for me” properly, you need to take that into account.

5. Identify Some Jobs

If you’re working to answer, “What job should I have?” there’s a decent chance you’ve already done a little searching. Along the way, you’ve probably noticed, there are thousands upon thousands of job titles.

It’s actually kind of shocking how many there are. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 1,000 occupation categories. That’s just categories, not drilled-down job titles. Holy cow, right?

Knowing that, it’s no surprise that many people get a bit overwhelmed when they are trying to pick a career. However, since you have an idea of where your interests and skills lie, as well as how much you need to earn, and you’re schedule preferences, you can start narrowing things down.

Begin with some basic searches. For example, you can head over to your friendly neighborhood search engine and plug in “jobs for [passion]” as a starting point.

Additionally, you can head to major job boards and use a similar approach. Just search for some core skills or duties and see what comes up.

This stage is exploratory. It’s about discovering options that are worth checking out further. When you find something intriguing, write it down in a list. Then, keep poking around and see what you find.

6. Dig Deeper

Once you have a few dozen potential jobs, it’s time to take a deep dive into each one. You want to look up job descriptions, review salary data, and learn from people who’ve been in the role.

When it comes to salaries and basic job descriptions, the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource along with our own job descriptions section! Along with an overview, you can learn about salary ranges, typical education requirements, and whether demand for those professionals is growing. That last point is ridiculously important. After all, you don’t want to pick a career that has a clear dead-end or lacks potential, right?

Sites like Salary.com, Glassdoor.com, and Payscale.com are also great. You can find out about pay ranges in various cities, read reviews from professionals, and more.

Reddit is also potentially valuable. People talk about everything under the sun on the platform, and many people are incredibly honest about how they feel. The r/IAmA and r/AMA subreddits could be particularly useful if you find someone who discussed one of the professions you’re considering.

The idea is to use this data to narrow down your list. You don’t have to get to one just yet, but you do want to eliminate anything that may not work.

7. Request Informational Interviews

As your list gets shorter, consider reaching out to pros who actually work in the jobs. You may be able to connect through your existing professional or alumni network, or may have to reach out to new people.

What you want to ask for is an informational interview. Essentially, you want the person to dish about their career: what it took to get where they are, what the journey looked like, what they like and dislike about their field, and more.

It’s a chance to get an inside scoop. Usually, you’ll learn details that aren’t widely discussed, potentially making it easier to decide.

8. Go Forward

Hopefully, by this point, you’ve got a solid answer to the “what job is best for me” question. You can move forward with greater confidence, knowing you put real thought into your career.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, figuring out what job is right for me isn’t always easy. But, by following the tips and process above, you can do it. Just consider your passions, skills, and traits as a starting point. Reflect on your financial needs and schedule preferences. Narrow down your options and dig in, doing research, and conducting interviews. After that, you should be able to choose a path that’s best for you.

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.