Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, June 4, 2015
That’s a big ask! I think most people wonder the same thing, even folks who have been in the workforce for many years. At some point we all stop and reconsider what we’re doing and where we are in our careers, and imagine the possibilities. New grads, especially, often spend quite a bit of time contemplating their career options and where these roads may ultimately lead in 10 (or 20) years.
I think your most effective method of self-reflection should include carefully examining your:
1) Current skills and areas of expertise, as well as the skills you desire to obtain
2) Formal education and/or educational goals
3) Interests and your passions (e.g. the industries, events, and topics that inspire or excite you)
4) Financial objectives and timelines
5) Ideal workplace environment
6) Preferred mix of routine versus fluctuating job responsibilities
7) Prospective interest in leadership roles (or lack thereof)
8) Ideal team composition, including your interaction with potential colleagues and leaders
9) Desired residential versus working locations
10) Expectation of work-life balance
In addition, and just as important, I would think about the things which don’t appeal to you. Did you intensely dislike a certain class in college, and why was that? Did you purposefully avoid participating in any specific campus activities, events, or clubs, because it wasn’t interesting, or you weren’t comfortable doing so? Did you enjoy taking charge of group projects, or did you really dislike being responsible for an ensemble of participants?
Think hard about what you like, what feels comfortable, and what has strongly resonated with you in the past. Identify your values, and what aligns with your beliefs and your life goals. But be practical. If you really loved that course on 19th Century Russian Poetry, but you aren’t interested in becoming an academic, or pursuing a graduate degree in the Russian Language, you may want to steer clear of a career trajectory heading in that direction.
Lastly, I would highly recommend exploring these two sites! The O*NET will even tell you projected salaries/wages for various roles and job outlooks.