A solid understanding of self is a critical factor leading to suitable career choices.

You create greater opportunities in a constantly changing environment by capitalizing on your interests, skills, and personal style.

If you're uncertain of your first or next career move, we recommend a process of self-reflection, followed by research into specific careers that match your self-discovery. After choosing a career path, you'll be better able to identify an appropriate academic major.

Your Criteria for Career Satisfaction

Begin by answering questions about yourself

  • What interests you?
  • What activities do you like, what accomplishments make you proud, what have you done that you really enjoyed, now and in the past?
  • In your spare time, where do you invest your energy?
  • What excites you enough to make you jump out of bed in the morning?
  • Make a written list. Find that too hard? Talk it to a friend and have them write it down.

This exercise is a legitimate first step in identifying a wide variety of jobs and careers that match your interests and deliver satisfaction. Enjoying what you do is one goal of effective career planning.

At this point, determine Your Holland Work/Personality Type (PDF)

Identify and prioritize your values about work and life

  • Do you value job security, with predictable progression, stable salary, and retirement plans? Or would you rather have a job that entails more risk, if it also brings a prestigious and impressive salary?
  • What, exactly, does 'security' mean to you?
  • Do you crave high visibility, power, and prestige?
  • Is it meaningful to you to know you are helping people through your work? Do you want to 'make a difference'?
  • Do you value opportunities to advance and progress, learning new skills and growing as you do?
  • Do you value flexibility in your schedule or want structure to your day?
  • Are you seeking a balance between work and family?
  • Is having leisure time for travel, hobbies, study, or sports important to you?

Identify and prioritize the answers to these questions. Consider other values you hold and incorporate them into your list.

Different jobs support different values. Once you know your own values and their order of importance to you, you can look at jobs from a values perspective. No job will match your full values list. Consider volunteer opportunities or hobbies as a secondary means to realize some of your values.

Consider key characteristics of your personality

  • Do you want to work alone or with people? Do you prefer working one-on-one, with small groups, or with large groups of people?
  • What level and characteristics of interpersonal interaction are comfortable for you and what are stressful for you?
  • Do you like talking through challenges and assignments as you do them, or turning them over in your mind before you act?
  • Do you want to work with things, data, or ideas?
  • Is your preference to explore the unknown, identify new systems, new processes, new products, or are you most comfortable following step-by-step directions for existing situations?
  • Do your prefer compromises that preserve the happiness of others, or is your priority on impartial analysis and egalitarian treatment?
  • Which brings you more comfort - identifying and committing to a defined plan for your future, or letting things unfold as you go along?

Examine your personality preferences and interactions with others. Interpersonal interactions are a reality of the workplace. The way people approach projects varies by personality type. You will better manage projects and relationships when you understanding your own personality type and remain objective about the strengths and weaknesses of others. Working with people who are different from you may combine the best features of both personality types!

Acquire skills needed for the job and career

You may not have all the skills you need to pursue a particular career, but skills can be acquired.

However, you need to be realistic about your abilities. For example, math or science aptitude may affect the ability to complete certain classes associated with particular degrees.  Having difficulty with a particular discipline?  Utilize Wright State's Academic Success Center or other tutoring services to enhance your understanding of the subject matter.

It's disappointing to come up against a real limit on skill acquisition. It's also an invitation to reposition yourself on the 5 steps of career exploration (PDF) and see what other majors and careers are a good fit for you, enlightened as you are by your new discoveries about yourself.

In your career planning, research your possible careers and the jobs that are stepping stones in those careers. Identify the need for particular skills and acquire them intentionally.  Research the job market to find market trends and learn what skills and degrees might qualify you for particular jobs.

Recognize that shifting circumstances are real

Will you have to make concessions to the economy, the marketplace, relocation pressures and other external factors?

Yes! That's realistic. Those are some of the shifting circumstances of career development.

In times of economic challenge, it is possible that the career options most desirable to you may not be available. The environment may limit or reduce the need for or the earnings possible in certain career fields. The goal is to find the best options available for you in the current environment.

Accept that no single job matches all interests, values, personal traits, skills, or circumstances

There is not one job that will resolve all of these issues. The good news is that there are probably many jobs that will fulfill and satisfy you on many of these points.

Statistically speaking, your first job will probably not be your last. You'll move through a career by moving through many jobs. If you examine yourself closely and choose accordingly, each job will provide internal satisfaction, reflecting what you like, what you value, and who you are.

At the many transitional points in your life and career, you might find it useful to revisit the tasks suggested here.

At this point, use your Holland Type to identify career possibilities (PDF)

Tools for the Task

Determine Your Holland Work/Personality Type (PDF)

Use Your Holland Type to Identify Career Possibilities (PDF)