Have you heard about one or more career ideas that intrigue you? That doesn’t mean it’s time to choose one. It means it’s time to explore more about those careers before focusing in too much.
If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t been able to choose yet, it’s often because you need more information.
But how do you explore careers?
There’s a detective inside of you. This can be fun!
You can do this.
Here are some guideposts to help you. You’ll be a career detective pro in no time.
Which Careers to Explore First?
Too many ideas? Sometimes you’ll have so many ideas that it feels overwhelming about where to begin your research. In that case, just pick 3 to explore first. Ideally, choose ones that make you smile. Even if they seem like the most impossible ones! Really. Who knows where the exploration will lead. (Following what feels fun is a useful method.)
Ideas feel too vague? Start with what you do know. Or make some guesses. For instance, if you might want it to involve writing, check this list of career ideas for writers or this list of best careers for introverts and highly sensitive people. Then grab a couple ideas from there to start learning about it.
Starting the research anywhere is worthwhile. Your exploration just needs to start, and once you’re in motion, things start to get more clear. The motion sensor lights will come on so you can see your next steps better. You just have to step forward for that to happen.
9 Career Exploration Methods
I’m listing these from easier to more involved. They’re all fairly easy in reality, especially if you start with the first ones and build from there. You don’t have to do them in order.
Follow what feels fun, and keep going in that direction.
- Search online for info about that career. Sample search: “what do digital analysts do?” Keep following the next question that comes to you. Enjoy. You’re naturally curious and good at letting it lead the way.
- Search LinkedIn for people in that profession and check out how they describe their work. This starts making it more personalized.
- Look at the websites of organizations that you feel really excited about, and check out the About section for info about their team. Get a sense of various roles and backgrounds.
- Ask a question online, such as in a social media post to your own connections, or within a topic-specific online group. Considering being a tour guide? Find a Facebook group for tour guides.
- Find a low-budget online course about that career. For instance, you might actually find a mini-course on “How to become a solar panel installer” for $12. You’ll gain an inside look, and often an opportunity to ask questions.
- As you do some of the above, you’ll discover one or more people working in that field and you could ask them a couple questions directly.
- Beware of dismissing a path too quickly, just from hearing one or two bad things. Ask someone in the field to schedule a time to chat, so you can get a reality check. See this cheat sheet on informational interviews for introverts.
- If you don’t know someone to interview, you might know someone who can connect you to one. Tap into your inner detective. Ask friends, family, neighbors…. Don’t let “I don’t know anyone” stop you.
- For an idea or two that you’re still very interested in, find a way to try it on, such as volunteering, taking a longer course (not a whole degree), helping someone with a short-term project, and/or shadowing someone in that role for half a day.
By that point, you’ll know a lot. You might not be ready to decide what to pursue after just a few of the steps, but you’re way ahead now. If you’re still unsure, try on a few more of the above steps.
Even after that, there are definitely ways to make the choosing easier. A lot of things need to be considered, and a lot of worries can get in the way. Even great detectives get stuck in sticky webs sometimes.
How do you choose well, and with confidence?
These might help:
- What if you don’t know what you want?
- When you think you have too many interests to choose from.
- Career Clarity Course: Uncover the Best Use of You (especially for introverts and HSPs)