What should my first job be? What job do I want and will it make me successful? How can I get a job that I want? 

If you ask yourself questions like this, welcome to the club. You are not alone and many before you, including me, asked the same questions. 

I will try to help you get some answers to the questions by giving you an outline and idea about how you can narrow down your options and gain more clarity. You can do this with a sheet of paper by following the description below. Alternatively, you can follow the exercise by filling out a template/questionnaire which I prepared for you. Please note that the exercise is simple but not easy. You need to use your brain quite a bit and also do some research. However, if you invest the effort I am sure you will gain some clarity on the next steps and also on what you really want.
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Let’s get started. Follow the instruction from top to bottom to narrow down your options: 

1) Identify your lifestyle goal

Before you even start looking into what kind of job you want, you should ask yourself what is important to you. Most people somehow skip this step and then are surprised finding themselves in a job they do not like as it does not fit to their real “wants”. 

Note down up to 5 bullet points of the most important lifestyle goals you have. In order to get to the points, ask yourself questions like:

  • What kind of lifestyle do you want to have? 
  • What are your priorities? 
  • Do you want to have a lot of free time? 
  • Do you want to earn a lot of money? 
  • Do you want to work outside or do you prefer to work in an office? 
  • Do you want to travel often?

2) Identifying areas of interest for you

Success is often a result of interest and engagement. Spending time on things you like is usually easy and does not really feel like work. Therefore it makes sense to follow the common recommendation to find something you like or are interested in to start determining a direction for your career.

Note down up to 7 areas of interest. Try to be as specific as possible. In order to get to the list, ask yourself questions like:

  • What is fun for you? 
  • What gives you energy?
  • What do you want to learn?
  • Are you good at something?
  • What scares you?

3) Identify career paths and jobs per area of interest

After noting down your areas of interest it is now time to identify real career paths and job opportunities related to those. Identify up to 3 Jobs or career paths per area. To do so do some research(use google, ask friends or family members for ideas)

4) Investigate the conditions around each job or career path

Now you have a list of potential jobs & careers but you still do not know if they could fit for you. Therefore get some more information. Identify the conditions and benefits or disadvantages for each of the noted jobs. Try to find up 4 bullet points.

Here are some questions which could help you identify the most relevant conditions:

  • How high is the average income?
  • What are the average working hours?
  • Travel?
  • Do you work in an office or outside?
  • Is working from home possible?
  • Flexible working hours?

5) Consolidate

If you made it till here you already did a lot of the heavy lifting! Now it is time to consolidate your list and narrow down the options which are really relevant for you.

In order to do so, review the list and cross out items that do not fit your lifestyle requirements or that do not completely aligning with your interests. It should be pretty obvious if you review your bullet points what could be fitting and what you want to remove. Try to reduce the job/career list to 3 items.
If you have trouble to do, so try to identify 3 additional pros and cons per item and decide after reviewing them. 

6) Understand the pre-requisites & requirements 

You have now a small list of jobs or careers you are interested in. Just being interested in a job is unfortunately not enough to get it. To help you increase your chances you first need to understand what prerequisites and requirements exist.

Identify the requirements to get started for each of the remaining jobs/career paths.

Research them online or ask people working in that area. 

Questions which can help you identify the requirements are:

  • What education is required?
  • Do you need to have a degree?
  • Can you be self-learned? (Will probably require a portfolio to showcase your knowledge or talent)
  • What technical skills are required?
  • What soft skills are required?
  • What equipment is required?
  • What physical requirements do you need to fulfill?
    • E.g. for pilots, police, military or firefighters

7) The next steps

After identifying the requirements make a plan on how to fulfill them.

Identify if you already satisfy some of the prerequisites and focus on the things which are missing.

You do not have to be able to checkmark each and every requirement right now, but you should make sure you have a clear plan on how to achieve it. 

To even further increase your chances you can try to take it up a notch by:

  • Trying to build a network of contacts in the job industry or area of interest (maybe you know someone who knows someone=
  • Do an internship for free (if paid even better)
  • Work on own projects which are related to your field of interest which you might be able to show off during an application or interview
    • E.g. build an app, create some graphics, get some sales training and so on.

After doing all this work you should have a clear direction and your chances will be pretty good. You now need to take the next steps towards your new job. 

Write your application send it and pass the interview!

If you would like to know how to write a good application or clean CV as well as how to prepare for a job interview, then continue reading here: How to get a job part 2 – application & resume

I hope this article was useful and I wish you the best of luck!