What job should I do?

Finding the perfect job is hard work. But how do you even start deciding what job you should do – especially when your parents seem to have other ideas?

boy holding job sign

...preferably one that doesn't destroy my will to live

What job should I do?

Finding a ‘perfect’ job may be unrealistic, especially during tough economic times, but with some thought you can find a role that suits you.

There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Either you can think about what you’re like, then draw up a list of possible jobs that match what you’ve discovered about yourself
  • Or you can look at different job descriptions and decide whether your personality and skills fit

The personality-then-job method

Here are some good questions you can ask yourself to get started.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? You want a job that uses your skills. Begin by writing a list. If you’re having trouble, ask someone else for help — they may come up with things that come so naturally that you didn’t even realise.
  • What is your personality like? Are you creative? Sporty? Caring? Academic? Practical? TotalJobs have a helpful list of personality profiles that will help you think about what you’re like, and what jobs you may be able to do.
  • How are you with people? We’re not just talking about whether you’re gregarious or shy – although that’s important to think about too. But ask questions like: are you good at motivating others? Caring for them? Or organising them?
  • What are you interested in? The perfect job isn’t just about what you’re good at, but what interests you too. Work is a lot more bearable if you’re passionate about it.
  • What are your priorities? Do you want a job that has flexible hours? Or do you like the idea of a 9 to 5? Do you want social status? Do you want to be your own boss? Do you want to earn loads?
  • What environment do you want to work in? Are you happy in an office? Or would you rather be in a shop? Or outdoors?

Not sure where to begin? Prospects career planner helps you work out the answers to all of the above, and points you in the direction of appropriate jobs.

Once you’ve finished soul searching, draw up a list of possible jobs that fit with your personality, interests and priorities. Then it’s time to get job hunting.

The job-first-personality-second method

Go to a job website and pick out the roles that seem appealing. Then ask yourself all the above questions with these jobs in mind. Think about whether your personality is suited, whether you’ll enjoy the role and whether it will give you the lifestyle you want. Even if you’re not ready to go straight into that job, you can begin to think about ways of getting there.

The point is to find out what jobs are out there, and to do something that will please you.

“A lot of parents pressure their children to do something because it sounds good,” says Denise Taylor, a psychologist and career coach. “They want them to have a job that will impress their friends and it can be hard. Make sure you do something that suits you, not them.”

Research your chosen jobs

  • Sometimes job websites are so full of jargon it’s hard to tell what a job actually is. But you can use search engines to translate job titles, complicated words or acronyms like ‘B2B’.
  • Ask someone who works in the industry that interests you. Social media like Twitter and Linkedin is a great way of contacting people to ask them about their careers, which can help you work out whether it’s right for you.
  • Get work experience. If an industry looks interesting, the only way to find out if you’re suited to it is to try it out. It will look great on your CV too – even if it’s not what you choose to do eventually.

If you find out what your ‘perfect job’ is, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to walk straight into it. Be prepared to work your way up there.

How much money do you want to earn?

Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the money most of us wouldn’t bother working at all, so there’s no point pretending it isn’t an issue. The question is: are you willing to sacrifice pay for the perfect job – or vice-versa.

Your job is not a life sentence. In the current job market, it may be a case of taking any job you can. But the careers are fluid these days – if you start on a path you don’t like, you can switch direction.

And remember, however much of your week it takes up, your job doesn’t have to be your life. If you’re training to be an accountant but you have a secret love of interpretive dance then hey, there’s always the weekend.

Picture of graduate by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015