How to make good career choices!

Choosing a career is generally not a one-time decision; it’s a series of decisions, made as you progress through different stages of life, experience, and responsibility. As we move from one stage of life into another, we begin to adapt our lifestyles and family commitments to conform to our present employment needs or demands. However, this adaptation might not be the best way to approach career decisions. In fact, because the majority of us are not satisfied with our current jobs, it seems obvious that the way we adapt our lifestyles to fit our current employment demands has been in error. As such, most of us need to unlearn the errors and then learn the truth regarding career decisions.

Common errors when making career decisions

The following are the eight most common career-choice mistakes.

  1. Choosing the first or easiest job you can get. To choose a job based on its ease is not being a good steward of the talents and abilities that God has given (Proverbs 13:4). Our goal should always be to move into areas in which we are using our strongest talents and abilities in our work.
  2. Choosing a job based on salary. This error is so established in our culture that it’ll take a strong commitment to faith in God’s guidance to choose a job based on talents, rather than on salary. A job chosen based on salary will not be satisfying (Ecclesiastes 5:10). God will supply our needs if we trust Him totally.
  3. Choosing a job because it provides a good title. Doing what you’re good at and what you enjoy is generally a far better consideration in choosing a career than selecting a title and doing the work that accompanies it (Proverbs 12:9).
  4. Taking a job just because management offers it. Discuss your work-related attributes with your employer to indicate the areas that will be the best fit for you. You may be better off expanding your area of responsibility in your present job, instead of moving away from your skills and area of expertise.
  5. Choosing a job because that’s what your parents do. Don’t choose a career track because that’s what your parents do. God has created you to be unique. Discover that uniqueness and develop your career plans around it.
  6. Choosing a job to fulfill your parents’ unfulfilled dream. Parents must be careful not to steer their children to something they themselves would like; rather, children should be encouraged to follow a career path that best suits their God-given talents and abilities.
  7. Choosing a job just because you have the minimum ability to do it. There are many jobs we can do, but they are not necessarily God’s plan for us. Usually His plan also involves our strongest skills, our personalities, and our motivations.

How to make good career decisions

The following are eight steps we should take as we prepare to make career decisions.

  1. Clarify your purpose in life. Place your life in God’s hands and trust His guidance completely (Ephesians 2:10). He will show you how your talents and abilities can best be used to glorify Him.
  2. Discover your natural inclinations and how to use them effectively. Understand how God has gifted you. Consider your abilities, talents, personality strengths, values, and principles.
  3. Investigate several occupations that fit your talents and personality. Concentrate on jobs that are a potential good fit. Read, interview people, and visit job sites in order to identify jobs that best suit your talent profile.
  4. Seek God’s confirmation. Continue to pray specifically for God’s direction in your search and His leading in your decision. Share your desire with other mature, trusted Christians and seek their counsel.
  5. Choose your initial destination and develop a plan to get there. This might include specialized inner company education, special training, on-campus education, or correspondence courses. Develop a resumé that reflects your talents, desires, and abilities.
  6. Learn to manage your career. If your chosen career demands compliance or change in order to maintain productivity, to keep up with the ever-changing technological world, or to be competitive, you must learn how to adjust. Hone and tailor your talents to assure compatibility.
  7. Become a lifelong learner. We must study both God’s Word and our vocations in order to show ourselves approved by both God and management. This is most essential in today’s fast paced world of constant change and innovation. Employees who do not “keep up” with these changes may find themselves left behind, regardless of their talents, experience, or company seniority.
  8. Refine your career as you progress. After you’re in a job you’ll see areas that need improving and developing. However, be careful to avoid areas in which you are not suited or qualified, based on your talents and abilities.

Too often we work things backwards. We decide on the results we want and then pray that God will bless our decision, and we try desperately to fit into the mold that is demanded. When we do this, we deny Him full control and we deny ourselves a career that is compatible with our God-given gifts and talents. If we are going to be successful in career selection decisions, we must identify our talents, abilities, and personalities; understand how they can best be used; and then turn the results over to God.

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Jumping into the field of work!

Everyone turns into a Yes-man to get a job after college. That is why many people go through their careers hating their job or jumping off from one company to another. People go to college to get a degree and to pursue their passion and interest. Unfortunately, once they step outside the university they make choices different from the things that they want to be. They seem to become oblivious of their own goals.

College doesn’t only prepare you for a job rather it’s a preparation for life. A college diploma/degree will open doors of opportunities. It will show you how to get there. But remember, your destination — your future success — are yours to choose.

Whether you’ve tailored a long-term plan or you see new possibilities for your future career, these powerful pieces of career advice will empower you as you encounter difficulties in facing reality.

“Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”- Paul J. Meyer

Life in the real world is different from being a student. Challenges are inevitable as well as failures. However, if you focus on your strengths and use your weaknesses to improve yourself, nothing is impossible to a determined person.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”- Winston Churchill

You are young. It’s okay to make mistakes. If you get into a wrong career path, or you meet a bad boss, or you’re dissatisfied with your job, it’s okay that’s normal. In the span of your career journey, you will surely make mistakes and fail many times. You’re still inexperienced so enjoy exploring life. Fix your mistakes and learn from them, then move forward- That’s the joy of learning.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”- Albert Einstein

Everyone wants to be successful in life. But instead of running behind success, aim for excellence. Strive for it and eventually you’ll become successful.

“Think big and don’t listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. Life’s too short to think small.”- Timothy Ferriss

Dream big and act on it to make it happen. Do what you’re passionate about and embrace it. Whatever you enjoy doing make it your profession. Satisfy your inner interest before others. It’s you who can make your dream come true and not them. Take a chance and trust yourself.

“In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.”- Sid Caesar

You can concentrate on your goals but do not forget to have life. Study effectively and work hard but don’t forget to relax and enjoy a bit. Go out with friends and have quality time with your family. Pursue your goals while living a balanced life.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Envision yourself living to your dream and figure out how you can achieve it. If you dream to become a business person, teacher, doctor, nurse, engineer, etc. then plan how you’re going to reach it. No matter what life throws at you, keep going and live to your purpose.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”- Confucius

Do something that you have talent for and you love doing. Using your interest as your basis in finding your career path will help you determine the right direction towards your goals. If you love your profession, you will have a great time doing the job and less likely to experience stress.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.”- Les Brown

There will be moments when you doubt your own ability to succeed. You lose enthusiasm and drive to keep going. But instead of letting yourself defeat by your own fears, why not give yourself a fair chance to do everything that you can. You never know where your courage will take you.

“Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.”- Bobby Unser

Having a strong desire or will is what keeps you from achieving your goals. If you desire to succeed in life, you can do everything to make your goal a reality. This gives you hope, inspiration, and driving force to move forward and accomplish something.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”- Anatole France

A dream without action is dead. Having dreams without believing on it is useless. If you dream make sure it’s big, plan on how to get it and be confident that you can reach it. If you desire to get a particular job, even if it seems impossible to achieve, never stop believing and do your best to get it. You can start from taking small steps until you reach goal.

“We become what we think about.”- Earl Nightingale

While you’re young, have a clear vision of your future. Even though you’re still clueless with your destination just think of what you wanted to become. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, dreams, and beliefs so that it would manifest into your life. Stop worrying, stop complaining. Do not let the idea of “what if’s” corrupt your dreams. You might not control everything that may happen to you but you have a choice to take it or leave it behind.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”- Ernest Hemingway

It’s good to have a goal so you know where you’re heading at. However, aside from focusing on your destination, it’s the long journey that will matter in the end. The goal of most college students probably is to have a good career. You study hard to complete your education and acquire the skills needed for your job application. Of course, you can set your eyes towards your goal but do not forget everything you’ve learned and experienced while you’re on your way there.

“Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.”- Chris Grosser

Successful people didn’t wait for opportunities to knock on their doors. They created it that’s why they’re reaping what they have sown. Apply this truth to your life and you’ll definitely accomplish everything on your own.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”- Jim Ryun

Staying consistently motivated in reaching your goals will eventually become your habit. If you continuously do things properly then you’ll keep going until you get to your destination. When you’re motivated, you have a reason to do what you love.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”- Thomas A. Edison

Failures happen to anyone and yes, it happens all the time. Don’t feel hopeless after failing many times. You just have to understand perfectly the purpose of failure in your life in order to realize that it is something you need to succeed. Giving up will stop you from achieving greatness and making a difference. So instead of thinking about quitting, why not take it as an opportunity to make things way better?

Changing Careers

What did you want to be when you were 5? An astronaut? Basketball player? President? When we’re little, we imagine that we’ll do something exciting with our lives. But somewhere along the way, all that changes.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. Here’s a story by Jeremy Schifeling, founder of Break into Tech, went from being a kindergarten teacher to working at Apple. How is that even possible? Well, he explains, sometimes your passion and your expertise don’t align—but that doesn’t mean you just give up.

All my life, I’ve had two passions: social justice and technology. Because as much as I wanted to make the world a better place, I also couldn’t help geeking out about the latest and greatest gadget.

I followed my first love when it was time to start my career. Teaching kindergarten in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn felt like the perfect place to make a difference. But as with most things in life, a funny thing happened on the way to building my career: I found out that my passion and my expertise were not necessarily one in the same.

Specifically, as an introvert, being practically on stage in front of 25 rowdy kids every day didn’t play to my strengths, no matter how cool my teacher ties were!

And yet, at the same time that I struggled to pull off the teaching thing, I found myself totally engrossed with all the techie aspects of my job: Building a classroom blog, teaching my students how to make videos, and even doing tech support on our ancient PCs. It was so clear that one of my co-workers finally pulled me aside and said: “Jeremy, what the heck are you doing here? You should be in tech, man!”

Typical, right? It takes someone else to see the most obvious truths in your own life.

But as much as it hurt to realize that I wasn’t cut out for (what I thought was) my dream job, I knew my colleague was right. And so I set out to find my new dream job—one that combined both my passions and my talents.

That journey took years, and I made lots of mistakes along the way.

In my case, I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a coder. But, given my passion for social justice and technology, I loved the idea of using tech to reach millions of people around the world. And so marketing was the perfect fit.

For me, that meant going back to grad school. Because even though I thought of an MBA as a degree for consultants and bankers, it turned out that pretty much all of the cool marketers I met at Apple, LinkedIn, and elsewhere had one. So, I went out and got an MBA too. (And for me, it was worth it.)

Sure enough, the MBA opened many doors for me. Because the same day that I got to campus, all the tech firms that had never previously returned my calls started trying to recruit me. But there was just one problem: They were also trying to recruit all my classmates!

And to make matters worse, dozens of my classmates had already worked in tech. So how could I possibly compete as a former kindergarten teacher?

The answer, again, lies with the recruiter who stands between you and career nirvana. Imagine him plowing through dozens of generic applications (“Dear Sir or Madam, I’d really like a job, blah, blah, blah”) and giving up in frustration.

Now imagine what it would feel like, in the midst of that sea of blandness, to get something different. To get an application that felt fresh, personal, and exciting?

And guess what? As a career-changer, you’re uniquely qualified to write that application. After all, you’ve got a unique perspective on your chosen field. So why not lead with that. That’s exactly what I did. Here’s the beginning of my actual cover letter:

Dear [hiring manager name],

It was clear from your presentation last month that Apple is not your typical company. It doesn’t create typical products or provide typical experiences for its customers. And it certainly doesn’t hire typical people to design and market those products and experiences. Thus, as the only former kindergarten teacher to teach himself PHP/MySQL in my class, I proudly submit my application for a Product Marketing Manager internship this summer.

And exactly five months later, I was sitting on a bus headed to Cupertino (Apple’s headquarters, for those whose passion isn’t tech)!

So like I said, transforming my career from kindergarten teacher to techie wasn’t fast or easy. But hopefully it gives you a sense that just about anything’s possible if you focus on what matters. Because if you follow the same steps I did—find the right role, get qualified, and nail your application—you can change careers.

Career Success!

Once you graduate from college and land a job, your next immediate concern is how to succeed in your career. Because the world has become so competitive, doing well in your job and moving forward with your career is more important now than ever. Career advancement and recognition are on every professional’s list of goals. But what sets the exceptional professionals apart? The answer is simply willingness and a strong desire to perform well. Once you have the willingness and the right mindset, you can begin climbing the the ladder.

Here are the top career success tips on how to excel at work.

Take initiative.

Today’s career requirements are highly developed and require much more than someone who won’t take risks. In today’s competitive career landscape, employers are looking for individuals who can bring fresh ideas to the table and take initiative, start new projects, pitch new solutions and create new opportunities for the business.

Be your own evaluator.

One of the best ways to achieve career success is to keep assessing your performance. Don’t wait for your annual appraisal – do it yourself. An ideal way to do this would be to identify quantifiable goals and set a timeline for achieving them. Start with setting short-term goals when you’re new to a job. Create a detailed plan to achieve these goals. Break the tasks down into weekly or even daily tasks and fill out a small form at the end of the week to assess where you’re headed and whether you need to change your strategy. This will show your progress and that you understand the importance of constant self-evaluation and improvement.

Be ready to learn.

To excel in your career, you have to be willing to learn. No matter what university you graduated from or what grades you had, professional life will be very different from college. Be prepared to have a million questions pop up every day regarding what you’re doing. It might take you days to get a hang of your duties at your new job, so show management that you are coachable, paying attention and always willing to learn new things.

Anticipate needs.

To succeed in your new job and achieve career success, you will have to be well aware of what your manager needs. Stay a step ahead of your boss by asking yourself, “If I were my boss, what would I want done next?” By making sure you get things efficiently done in time, and take the initiative to do them yourself, you will be showing a positive, go-getter attitude to higher management.

Communicate well.

Communication is key to an employee’s and an organization’s success. If your manager has to ask you for a status report, you’re not doing everything you could be doing. The idea is to proactively communicate and let them know when a task is done, and move on to what needs to be done next.

Show, don’t tell.

The value of action is far greater than that of mere words. Use this as a principle in your dealings at the office. Instead of bragging about all the things you can do, and then never actually delivering, you ought to show management what you are capable of.

Gain trust.

This is one of the most important tips for success you need to ensure success when you start a new job. Think of it this way: the quicker you earn your boss’ trust, the sooner they’ll have less to worry about and hence more free time to focus their attention on other pressing matters. If your boss finds you trustworthy, they’ll delegate tasks to you. Make sure you meet your deadlines and keep your promises. It’s critical, especially early on in your relationship with your boss, that you fulfill every commitment you make, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Create solutions.

Everyone can turn their problems into their manager’s problems. Be the solution provider, not the problem creator. Great employees solve problems. If you don’t have the authority to give the final verdict on a problem relevant to your work or department, then make sure you offer solutions to your boss and try to help as much as you can, wholeheartedly.

Be compassionate.

Being a good employee requires compassion and understanding that your manager, and fellow employees are doing their best. Throwing a tantrum is not going to do anyone any good, neither will constantly complaining about how much work you’re doing. At the end of the day, everyone is doing their fair share of the work they’re getting paid for.

Many of these traits and behaviors that can help you excel in your career are also found in great leaders. By keeping these 10 career success secrets in mind, you can put yourself on the path to true greatness and achieve your ultimate career goals.

Research on your Career Path

The job market continues to change at a rapid rate, and research skills are a hot commodity. One should know how to navigate the online world to gather the data and ideas he will need in any field.

Spend time researching career paths and incooperate your research with one-on-one conversations with those in a field of interest. Conducting background research and generating ideas on how you can be helpful to organizations is an important skill you will use throughout your career.

Spending the time to conduct thorough background research will always keep you a step ahead of your peers, and now is the time to hone those skills.

With some help and encouragement from parents, you will develop the tools and skills that will serve you no matter what kinds of curve balls the economy throws in the future. And it’s never too early to start.

My Career Identity is a Kenyan-based career adviser  company that works with mid-career executives and young adults who are in high school, college or are recent graduates.

We work with executives and young adults to discover, develop and advance their careers. We guide clients at all stages in identifying and promoting their brand as a foundation for job search, career change and advancement, leadership development and entrepreneurship. We help them find the right roles and organizations to get them hired, or empowers them to pursue leadership positions within their current company. We frequently speak, deliver workshops and blog on career management at Career889.wordpress.com

Feel free to book your sessions to consult us on everything about your career path.