By Lori Johnston
Choosing a career based only on expected job growth or making big bucks could leave you as disappointed as being stood up on a blind date. Instead, turn your loveless career search into one infused with passion and excitement this year. Here is what it takes.
Consider What You Love
We can't all be interior designers, chefs, authors, or other types of professionals whose jobs represent our beloved hobbies. But assess what interests, motivates, and excites you by noting what you enjoy doing, watching, and reading over a month-long period.
"You will find out what your passion is and what your capabilities are. That would lead you to be more successful," says Joseph Paterno, director of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, which operates career centers that provide individuals access to training, education, and employment.
Act as your own personal job matchmaker by considering the type of work and job skills that could lead to fulfillment with job projection and salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, your state government, and other sources. Taking personality assessments, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, can also help you find the perfect career fit, just like in a relationship.
Gregory S. Palermo, a professor and interim director of architecture at Iowa State University, shares that the ability to make a difference can also drive a career choice. "Students choose architecture for various reasons -- not least among them is that they believe life can be improved through better design of the built environment."
Seek Out a Match Online
Daters have embraced the Internet with the growth in dating sites, so don't hesitate to use the same matchmaking approach to fuel your next professional affair. From career and job websites like FindtheRightJob.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and industry-specific sites, to connecting with people on LinkedIn who work in the profession you're considering, you can uncover irresistible opportunities and shift to a new career.
Recognize The Commitment
Look at your next career as a monogamous relationship. Forget the idea of playing the field, where you might dabble in a variety of professions at the same time. Instead, say "I do" to lifelong learning in one particular industry.
Show your commitment by pursuing a certificate, diploma, associate, or bachelor's degree from trade schools, community colleges, online universities, and/or public and private colleges and universities. Greg Wagner, internship director/lecturer at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business, suggests looking at schools that have a "strong track record of internships" and helping students land jobs in their field.
Don't Wait Around for the Fairy Tale Ending
It's hard to kill time waiting for that phone call, text, e-mail, or Facebook message asking for a second date. Make a move toward your own happy ending in your career by going ahead and taking a continuing education course in the industry you're considering. Just like you make time for someone you love, free up some room in your schedule for a new career by working in the field part-time or volunteering. "If you're really passionate about animals, for example, volunteer in some of the shelters. Take a look and truly find if that is something you want to do. What part of that [field] do you want to be in?" Paterno says. You'll learn whether it is a professional relationship worth pursuing.
By taking these steps early in your career search, the rewards could be greater than digging into a big heart-shaped box of chocolates.
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