How to Choose a Career

Still not sure what you want to do with your life? These resources can help you figure it out.

How to Choose a Career

This is how to choose a career you're passionate about.

Knowing how to choose a career is one lesson they don't teach in school. If you’ve earned your degree, you might be already entrenched in a career. Then again, you might not be.

A report by the Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies found that more than 40% of college graduates take positions out of school that don’t require a degree, and more than one in five college grads still aren’t working a degree-demanding job a decade after leaving school.

So, if you’ve graduated and are still wondering how to choose a career path, you are far from alone.

Well, that may be somewhat comforting. But it’d probably be even more comforting to feel like you’re on a path that you’re passionate about—especially since passion ranks highly in surveys about what millennials want out of work. So, uh, how exactly do you go from being undecided about your career to being on a track toward something real? Start with these resources.

Use Proven Career Assessments

Choosing a career is a different process for everyone. Google “career assessment” and you’ll return about hundreds of thousands of results. Do these assessment things actually work? Should you shell out money to take online quizzes? Clearly, there’s a big market for career aptitude tests. Monster reviewed some and picked our top 10 free career assessment tools.

You can also try taking John Holland's SDS (Self Directed Search)—an assessment that helps determine potential occupations and corresponding work environments based on your personality type.

The test is based on the scientific findings of award-winning psychologist, John Holland, who invented the “Holland Codes,” a system that places individuals into one of six categories: Doers, Thinkers, Creators, Helpers, Persuaders and Organizers. Each category corresponds to a variety of different career paths. The test isn't free, but if it helps you find your true calling, it’ll have been the best money you ever spent.

Seek Out Career Coaches

A career coach's job is to help connect people with careers they’ll love. They're great at networking and often have access to valuable resources that you wouldn't find on your own.

We know, you’re thinking you don’t have the money for a career coach. But you do have a very free resource at your disposal: your college’s career center. Counselors in the center are trained and experienced in helping people find the right career fit.

Start Interviewing Other People

Seek out informational interview opportunities. Being able to sit with someone, ask them questions, and get real-deal answers is a solid strategy. Plus, if someone donates their time, it means they're interested in seeing you succeed. They become your advocate. Learning how to choose a career can sometimes require a network of these advocates.

But with whom should you meet? Start with the people who already know you—a supervisor, professor, or someone you already know working in a field you’re interested in. You also shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to people you don’t know, too. Be courteous and open to learning.

At the very least, you’ll likely get some reassurance from this person that your current path is not as purposeless as you may think. While a first job is important, it’s not the be-all-end-all. Ask any baby boomer how they got to the position they’re in now, and they’ll likely tell you that it was a long, winding road of varied jobs.

How to Choose a Career with Monster's Help

Your career path will likely take a few twists and turns along the way to achieving whatever dreams you've got tucked away. What's important is that you remain committed to your professional development. Could you use some help with that? Check out Monster's grad site to get answers to your many questions about jobs, interviews, resumes, and much more.