3 Steps to Help Someone Find the Right Career


When I ask my teenager about their plans for the future, they think I’m talking about next weekend. Seriously, how can I get my teen to think past high school graduation? They should look at career options now, before they enters the job market. Right?

Are there one or two simple things I could do to help get them started?


You are right. It is never too soon to help your child explore careers.

For example, did you know that the math and science classes your child takes in middle and high school help to give them more career options?

Adult job seekers and career changers can think about the same steps below when making their next career move.

The first three steps to help anyone find the right career are:

  1. Know your interests
  2. Research careers
  3. Create a plan

There are lots of assessments or quizzes that help match potential career interests to interests. Many reputable interest assessments come from the Holland Code, or RIASEC.

Here’s one quick interest assessment that matches to career clusters.

Research careers. Before you apply for jobs, or commit to a college or job training program, you want to know what the career is about.  Use trusted sources including state labor market information to find out:

  • The salary range for your region
  • Skills needed
  • Work conditions and abilities
  • Current and future demand in your region
  • Training or credentials needed

Only use trusted resources for career research. The labor market information should come from reputable industry sources or from the state or U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerOneStop has all the information you need to know about potential careers, plus it links to your state information.

Create a plan. Once you or your teen knows the career they want, then you can create a plan of how to explore it. The career plan can include:

  • College or job training options. What type of training or degree is needed to start work? Do most employers expect a Bachelors or an Associate degree? Is it a career that begins with an apprenticeship?
  • Money management. Most new professionals start work at a low salary. This is true for some career changers, too. Create a financial plan that matches your living expenses to expected salary.
  • Advancement. The next job you get is probably not the same job you will have in 10 years. You might not even work for the same company. Decide now what you want for your career in five, 10 and 20 years.
  • Plan B. No one’s career — or life — goes exactly as planned. Think about what you might do if you get laid off, or if your family or personal life changes dramatically.

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Originally published June 2011