Whether you're entering the workforce for the first time or you're interested in making a career change, it's important to know where to begin. Knowing how to get started can help you navigate your job search and help ease any related stress. Learning how to start a particular career also ensures the efficient use of your time and resources. In this article, we explain what to know before starting a career and list steps and tips to help you begin your profession.
Related: Top Tips for Starting a New Career
What should you know before starting a career?
Before you start your career, it's important to take several things into consideration. Preparing for this phase of your life can increase your chance of success. Here are three things to consider before starting a career:
- Strong resume: Prepare to write an effective resume that best highlights your skills, experience, education and accomplishments. A strong and well-organized resume gives you a better chance of securing employment.
- Transferable skills: While it's important to develop all of your skills, keep in mind that you can use your soft skills in a variety of industries. Work on strengthening your transferable skills in the event that you pursue a job unrelated to your first career in the future.
- Teachability: Employers want employees who are willing to learn on the job. Even if you've completed your academic career, remain teachable to help you grow in your career.
How to start a career
Before you start your career, it's important to have a strategic plan to help you find success. Here are some steps to help you navigate the process of starting your career:
1. Make a list of your interests and talents
Create a list of your hobbies, skills and passions. Consider anything you enjoy doing—even if it doesn't seem related to a traditional career. For example, if you like spending time outside, cooking or helping other people, list what you find fulfilling about each of these activities. Note any themes or patterns on your lists to help you find a suitable career match. Identifying your talents and hobbies can help you uncover what you're passionate about and which careers may suit you.
2. Consider your career preferences
Determine the type of job you want and what you want out of your career. Knowing your career aspirations can help you determine the type of education you need and the types of positions to apply for.
In addition, consider your preferences in terms of a job's commute time, its location, its average salary and its typical work schedule. Identifying these criteria can help you to prioritize your preferences and help you narrow down your research.
3. Review your qualifications
Every job in the workforce requires specific skills and qualifications. Before you pursue a career, consider your education level and your abilities. Assessing your skills and qualifications can help you determine the next steps for your professional development and future career. It can also help you identify what jobs may align with your current credentials.
4. Research industries and careers
Research different jobs and industries that align with your qualifications and interests. For example, if you love science and helping people, consider a job in the healthcare industry. Use an online search engine to research industries and jobs across different sectors. Read job descriptions to learn more about each of the positions' responsibilities and required skills to help you to determine if you're qualified for the position.
5. Consider volunteering or interning
Consider becoming a volunteer or intern to provide you with further insight into a career or industry. Research opportunities online or talk to your college's career center to learn about various intern or volunteer positions you might find interesting. Keep in mind that most internships or volunteer opportunities don't offer you monetary compensation. However, they may provide you with valuable experience to help with your future endeavors. In addition, interning or volunteering gives you the opportunity to shadow working professionals and ask them about their jobs. Hearing about their experiences can help you make a well-informed career decision.
6. Find a mentor
Connect with a working professional in the industry you're interested in. Establishing a professional relationship with someone in your prospective field can help you gain valuable insight and advice based on their personal experiences. Consider researching industry professionals whose work you admire or whose jobs you find interesting. Then, connect with them via email. A mentor may even connect you with other industry professionals who can help you establish your career even further.
7. Pursue the right qualifications
Once you make a career choice, research the common requirements for the job you're interested in. Some jobs require certain degrees or certifications. After your research, spend time pursuing the common qualifications for the job you want if you don't already have them.
8. Apply for positions
After pursuing the common qualifications for the job you're interested in, research open positions. Once you find jobs that align with your qualifications, submit an application online or in person. Keep in mind that different companies may have different requirements for the same job title. Therefore, carefully review the description for the job you're interested in to ensure you meet the specific requirements for that role.
Tips for starting a career
If you're new to the workforce, develop a strategy to help you find a career that best suits your interests and qualifications. Here are a few tips to help you start your career:
Stay open-minded and curious
If you're just beginning your career, be flexible throughout the process. Stay open to exploring different career paths or industries you may not have originally found interesting. Consider asking professionals in different industries about their experiences. Your curiosity may introduce you to career possibilities you may not have previously considered.
Stay proactive and patient
Actively seek work and continue to apply for positions that you're qualified for. Remain enthusiastic throughout the process. However, keep in mind that finding the most suitable career path may take time. Therefore, while it's important to be proactive, make sure you have the patience to endure the job search process.
Strengthen your skills
As you begin your first career, make sure you have strong skills in your chosen field. If you have the right skills for the job, you're more likely to stand out as a strong candidate. Develop your skills through continuing education courses, workshops and practice.