Choosing the right career path is one of the biggest decisions for many people. You may end up switching career paths later on, but the one you choose at the very beginning often impacts your entire professional journey.
In this short guide, we’re going to share some expert tips to help you make the right decision.
Let’s start with the basics.
What’s a career path?
A career path refers to the different positions you work in as you progress toward achieving your ultimate professional goals. While the objective of your career path is to help you achieve your ultimate career goal, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a straight line.
Traditionally, career paths imply vertical advancement or growth to higher-level positions, but they may also comprise lateral movement across or within industries. Similarly, career setbacks (backwards moves) are also common.
You may move down the career ladder by opting for a transfer to a position with less stress and fewer responsibilities. Or you may apply for a position with an organization that you’ve always wanted to work with, but only the lower-level positions are available.
Different types of career paths
Usually, you can progress in your career path either through an organization or through an industry. Some organizations have an employee development process to help their employees develop their preferred career paths. In that case, you and a human resources representative or your supervisor discuss your career progression within the organization.
This discussion may occur as part of your performance appraisal process. Additional work assignments, training, or education may be planned to help you qualify for higher-level positions within your career path.
In terms of following your career path within an industry, you continue advancing within your profession. For instance, if your ultimate career goal is to become a principal, you generally start as a teacher and develop your administrative skills while teaching. Down the line, you may become a department head, then move to the position of assistant principal, and finally, become the principal.
Tips to position yourself for the right career path
As career objectives vary from one person to another, there can be numerous types of career paths to consider or follow. However, no matter which career path you’ll ultimately choose, you should get yourself prepared to be successful in that.
Here, we’ve jotted down some tips to help you out.
- Never stop learning
To gain a competitive edge in today’s job market, it’s a must to stay on top of the trends and best practices in your industry. And there’s only one way to do this – continue learning throughout your career. If you find it difficult to identify the areas you need to focus on, talking to a mentor in your industry or your supervisor in your organization should help you out.
- Continue expanding your professional network
Having a robust professional network can greatly help you in different stages of your career path. Be it getting to know about open positions in other organizations or getting suggestions on how to prepare to enter a new industry, your professional network can help you in different ways. To expand your network, you can join professional forums on social media platforms or attend networking events.
- Maintain flexibility
You should always maintain flexibility in terms of following your career path. Be open to opportunities while keeping your ultimate career goals in mind. For example, if a lower-level position gives you the opportunity to acquire skills or build connections that’ll be of high value down the line, you should be open to accepting the opportunity.
Key steps to selecting the right career path
While there’re countless types of career paths, the following steps should help you choose the one best for you.
- First, you need to find out your career objectives. These should be based on your core values, favorite professional activities, interests, abilities, and strengths.
- Then you should develop long-term career plans and conduct thorough research to identify ways to reach those future milestones.
- Next, you should find out which of your previous positions gave you the maximum job satisfaction. Then identify patterns and trends in those past roles.
- Then learn about the educational requirements for positions you want to apply for and see if they match your present educational level or you need to earn additional degrees or certifications.
- It’s also important to figure out your desired salary. An engaging and satisfying career path is important, but salary is also a crucial factor you need to consider when choosing your career path.
Finally, if you’re at the initial stage of your career and unsure of what will be the right career path for you, it’ll be wise to obtain a broad education instead of opting for a particular subject. When you decide on your career path down the line, you can always get specialization in a particular field to advance your career.
Thank you for reading,
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