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The Real You - 7 Tools to Help You Find Your Ideal Career

Whether you’re considering returning to work after a break, or just looking for a more rewarding working life, it’s worth taking time and effort to define exactly what type of career will be the ideal fit with your personality and your lifestyle needs. There are plenty of tools to help you, so we list a few of the most useful below.

1. Know what you want

The first step is to consider what will be important to you in your perfect career. Is it an opportunity to solve problems, and use your creativity? Will you want to be near home, and avoid commuting? Flexible hours? The chance to use your education and experience?

Make a list of everything you want, then divide them into two lists: ‘Essential’ and ‘Nice to have’. List each item in order of importance.

Next, make a list of deal-breakers. What aspects of a job would you not accept – low salary? Long hours? Working remotely?  

Now, armed with these initial insights, it’s time to look a bit deeper.

2. Gain insight into your working style

Although self-analysis is useful, it is also worthwhile to gather more data with an online personality test.  There are plenty of free resources you could try.  However, it’s probably better to go for one which has been validated by independent research, as you’re likely to get a more accurate result. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been used for over 70 years and has been extensively tested. It’s widely used across a range of organizations and defines 16 basic personality types, plus their optimum working environment.  For example, if you are an ‘INFP personality type', or an 'insightful visionary' as it's described, there are clearly careers that will allow you to play to your strengths and others which won't allow you to flourish.  As an ‘insightful visionary’ would you prefer to start your own business, perhaps?  Or work for a start-up’, with your eye on a clear path to a bright future? 

3. Match your profile with jobs

Armed with insights from your self-analysis and chosen online psychometric tool, it’s time to start matching your profile with the careers that may suit you.  The US government provides two amazing online tools using their vast employment database: the O*Net Interest Profiler and the O*Net Skills profiler. The first will help you research careers that match your list of features you want in your career, the second is more based on your skills and experience. The O*Net site also provides in-depth job descriptions, as well as salary ranges and other data which will help to prepare for your job search.

4. The perfect salary

You may be in the fortunate position of not having to consider remuneration as an important part of your reason for working.  More likely you’re like the rest of us and you'll need to be realistic about the salary you want and can expect.  You’ll find plenty of information on the major job boards, based on real-time data from thousands of recruiters and job seekers. 
Also, why not consult local employment agencies for a realistic assessment of the salary range you might expect in your chosen career.

5. Friends and family

Friends and family can be a great source of feedback and inspiration. They know you best.  Ask them what they think would be your ideal career.  They may surprise you with suggestions that highlight strengths you didn't realize you had.

6. Seek professional advice 

Before launching yourself onto a new career path, it pays off to discuss your choices with an experienced professional. Consult a career counselor or a life coach who specializes in helping people find their niche.  It’s true that his will most likely require a financial investment as expert advice rarely comes free. However, when you consider the long-term financial and emotional impact of your career choice, it can definitely prove worthwhile. 

7. Be supported as you search

Once your job search is underway, get as much support as you can. There are plenty of online support programs that provide practical advice and tools.  

Ensure your CV is updated and really reflects the career choice you’re making.  These days, recruiters often receive hundreds of applications for each vacancy. It’s essential that whatever you send is clear and focused. Why are you the right choice for the position, and why is the position the right choice for you?

Choosing the right career is a major life decision, which requires careful consideration and planning. We hope that some or all of these tools will assist in getting you the ideal career. Good luck!

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