Regardless of your professional level, there are always work-related questions you should be asking yourself as you continue on down the road of your career. Just like our everyday lives, our career can (and should!) be ever-changing and growing, or we might find ourselves wanting to pivot to take a path completely different from the one we began on.
Over the years, I’ve definitely had my fair share of moments where I needed to sit down and think to myself, “Hey, is this really what I want to do?”. As time goes on, and you gain more experience in your industry, you realize what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, you may think you’re 100% committed to and in love with one job until you gather more experience and time under your belt. Changing your mind is okay, and actually can be healthy. If your job isn’t dynamic enough to fit your attention span, if you desire a different office culture, or if you realize what you’ve really wanted to do all along is something different – there should be no guilt with that!
The reason why we should ask ourselves career questions at all is so that we never feel stuck or trapped in a job that we don’t love. Over time, a job can and will turn into a career, which could be lifelong. If you feel your current job is “just fine” but you feel a desire for more, look inward and ask yourself some career questions before you devote too much of your time and energy to a job that does not serve you.
Below, we have compiled the essential career questions to ask yourself, regardless of where you may be in your personal and professional journey.
Do I want my career to align with my interests?
I’m sure that you and everyone else have heard the saying: “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” While this can be true, it definitely does not apply to every single person in the world. It’s perfectly valid to be satisfied in a career that doesn’t necessarily reflect your interests outside of the office. You may love nature and hiking, but you enjoy your quiet, stable, and consistent office job because of its predictable nature and unchanging tasks; another person who loves nature and hiking may stop at nothing to get a job as a park ranger because that is what feed’s their soul. Don’t feel pressure to find a career that aligns perfectly with your personal interests. We all have different needs! For some people, we don’t want to associate any type of stress with what we love doing. I, for example, love writing and adore my job as a creative writer! However, it can get a bit difficult to write for pleasure and fun when the task of writing is associated with things like work deadlines and client feedback. On the flip side, if you do want your career to align with your interests–great! One of the best parts about pursuing a passion as a career is that you will constantly be surrounded by like-minded people and can join a community of individuals who can really understand you. In my opinion, the experience of pursuing one of my passions as a job has made work a lot more enjoyable and has also increased my sense of personal fulfillment and achievement.
What are my current skills?
One of the most important things to remember when moving forward in your career is knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Take into account the experiences gained from past academic, professional, and personal experiences and how these can apply to a career. If you realize what you love requires skills you do not have; don’t give up! We all start somewhere, no matter your age. If that means going back to school, starting at an entry-level position, or taking up an internship alongside another job, give it a shot! One of Pulse’s cultural beliefs is to always pursue growth and learning, and one of the best parts about working for Pulse is their willingness to foster the development of a new skill or responsibility in the workplace. I know for a fact that if I decided I wanted to pursue web design or graphic design alongside creative writing, I would be supported on my journey by my workplace. If you think this may be a possibility, don’t be afraid to spark that conversation.
What is my personality type?
Your personality plays a key role in your career. It determines many things: if you work well independently or prefer collaborating with others, can help you determine whether you’re more of a leader or follower, etc. Some of my favorite personality type quizzes are the B.A.N.K test, Meyers Briggs Personality type quiz (16personalities.com gives you potential careers that fit your personality type), and the Enneagram test!
Am I happy in my current career?
Ah, yes. The most terrifying and exciting question to ask when sitting down to think about your professional journey. After you discover the answer, from here you can determine whether or not to change things, or have your current circumstances stay the same. It’s safe to say that you may be in a career you love for years, but find that it doesn’t align with your goals anymore. Things like that happen, and while it can be scary to realize you are no longer happy in your career, change is an exciting and invigorating thing that can bring the spark back to your relationship with work. If you find yourself unhappy, take a deeper dive into your feelings of unhappiness to see where they really stem from! Is it really the work you are doing that is causing negative feelings, or is it the people you work with? Once you find more specific answers, you can evaluate what really needs to change about your career.
What do I want from my career?
You can have any number of wants: money, job stability, happiness, growth opportunities, etc. Whatever the answer may be, they serve as the foundation for what would make a fulfilling career for you. Your answer will be different than those around you. While there are people who want a job that makes them happy, there are others who desire good pay and financial stability more – and that is okay! Whatever your WHY is, find it and stick to it. Don’t feel pressure to get a super high-paying job because that is what your parents want for you, or to find a job that you “loveeeeee” because that is what your best friend is pursuing. If you stay true to YOURSELF while answering these questions, nothing can go wrong.
Ah, the crossroads of career questions. Whatever you do, don’t freak out. You’ve got this. Stay calm, stay true to yourself, and don’t be afraid to dig deep and ask the hard stuff. If company culture is more important to you than pay, don’t let anyone tell you that your priorities are out of line. Only you know your heart and your values. Here is to hoping you are happy with your career, or that these questions have helped you get ready to find your perfect career match!