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Years ago, employees prepared for one career with one company and retired after 30 years of working for that company. Today, there are no guarantees when it comes to a job, no promises that you will be employed with a company until you’re ready to move on. The more open-minded, skilled, and job-ready you are, the greater success you’ll find in the workforce.

Assess Interests, Values, Skills Explore Careers Choose Career Options Compare & Rank Options Set Career Goals

After you have assessed your interests, values, and skills, and explored careers, it’s time to choose your top three career choices. Using your completed career research worksheets, realistically weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each job. Don’t worry about ranking your choices, just list three jobs you might want to pursue. Factors to consider include:

Education and training

Some occupations require more education and training than others. Depending on the profession, education requirements can range from a high school diploma to a doctoral degree (8-12 years of college). The amount of education you are willing (or not willing) to complete will impact your career choices.

Job location

You can work in some occupations like teaching, nursing, and law enforcement just about anywhere in the country. But other professions, like scuba instructing, storm chasing, and oceanography, require you to work in a specific geographic location. Are you open to moving for a job, or is it more important to find work near the town where you live?

Salary

Will the job pay enough to cover your bills and student loans? Would you earn a paycheck every two weeks or work on sales commission? If you want to pursue a career in music, theatre, or art, are you willing to room with a friend or two until you “make it big” one day?

Demand

Are there enough job openings in your chosen field? Specialized jobs like dolphin child therapist have a limited number of positions throughout the country, and even fewer vacancies. Farming and manufacturing jobs are on the decline while solar photovoltaic installation and wind turbine tech jobs may grow tremendously in the future. High demand industries include technology, healthcare, and business.

You can learn even more about a job by participating in hands-on activities. If you find it challenging to choose three jobs based on research alone, try a few of the activities listed below to help narrow down your options.

Career Day

If your school organizes an annual career day, take advantage of the opportunity to meet professionals in careers that interest you. Listen intently to what they share about their jobs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Informational Interview

You can learn more about a job by talking with a professional who works in the field. Set up an informational interview and talk about what he or she likes and doesn’t like about the job. Consider asking these questions during the interview.

Job Shadow

What better way to learn about an occupation than spending time on the job? When you shadow a professional at his or her worksite, you can observe first-hand what it would be like to work in a specific field.

Volunteer

As a volunteer, you are trained to perform a specific role within an organization and supervised by a paid employee. You do not earn money for the work you do, but you can determine if the job might be a good fit.

Now that you have chosen three career options, it’s time to compare and rank your choices. Read our next blog post for strategies on how to priorities your options