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10 Unusual Ways to Decide on Your Next Career


Are you looking to move into a new career? Chances are, at some point in your life, this will be a reality for you. Statistics show that we will all now shift jobs and careers more than ever before. In fact, career change statistics suggest that, “the average person will be making a career change approximately 5-7 times during their working life,” according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“With an ever-increasing number of different career choices on offer, about a third of the total workforce will now change jobs every 12 months.” If you’re planning on shifting careers, there are ways to go about the process that you may not yet have considered. Here are 10 unusual ways to pick your best future career without the stress you usually encounter.

Even if one of these methods pulls up an unusual result for you, take the message to heart and spend some time working through your career desires, career strengths and be honest about your weaknesses, true goals and dislikes. Sometimes coming from a problem from “left of center” can be a terrific way to come up with an answer if you’ve been stuck.

  1. Reach out to someone random from your network

Are you a member of LinkedIn? Often on this and similar platforms we find ourselves amassing a bunch of useful (and sometimes not so useful) contacts. Spend half an hour going through your contacts list and checking out your contemporaries’ job profiles. What sparks your interest? What job titles look fascinating or interesting to you? Shoot a couple of contacts a message and ask to connect via email or Skype to pick their brains about their career pathways. You are bound to learn something, even if it’s not what you expected.

  1. Do a SWOT analysis

Often used in business, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats document can help you brainstorm your skills with a fresh outlook. There are many ways to go about the process and plenty of downloadable worksheets available online. SWOT analyses allow you to look at yourself critically as well as positively, and can be a great way to identify skills that you may not have on your resume, and to consider needs that might not be top of mind, (such as a need to provide for your family, or to work close to a location or have flexible hours).

  1. Try a career personality test

If you’re looking for a method of choosing a new career path that might be insightful and fun, try a career personality test. Myers-Briggs is a very well-known testing version and delves into a person’s key motivators and what “personality types” they might thrive working alongside. However, there are thousands of tests available online, many are free, and range from the serious to the humorous. Most people enjoy finding out facts about themselves and you might discover some clues that could lead to a new career path.

  1. Use a process of elimination

For this exercise, you’ll need a batch of current job ads from a variety of sources, like Bookmark or copy some into a document, and start to read through the skills and attributes lists carefully. Begin to categorise these suitable jobs into types of jobs you would be comfortable doing and jobs and tasks that you would prefer to avoid. See if you can detect any patterns within the job ads and work out of there are any skills gaps that you might need to fill, based on what you uncover. What types of roles can you strike off your list? Begin to narrow things down.

  1. Weigh up the good and the bad

A good, old fashioned “pros and cons” list is a simple way to work out what your current motivations are. If you’ve found a job or two in the exercise above that you deem desirable, weigh up the pros and cons of this type of role. We often don’t sit down to work out what our true motivators really are an we can miss essential clues – for example, a good title or desirable company might be worth more to you than a high salary – or at the opposite end of the scale; you might be prepared to do a variety of jobs so long as the location, hours and remuneration are right. Be as honest as you can for best results.

  1. Contact an old boss

Think back to who has inspired you in the past and aim to reach out to them. If you have fond memories of a boss from a while back, send them an email or message asking them what they thought your strengths as an employee were. If you frame this correctly, often people are only too happy to help you out. Let them know how much you enjoyed working for them and that you found them to be inspiring; and ask them if they could spare five minutes of their time to give you some no-strings-attached advice. This could also be a great way to open up the channels to ask for a current reference as well.

  1. Grab a spreadsheet and brainstorm

When brainstorming was first championed, the process involved four main processes. 1: Go for quantity, 2: Withhold criticism, 3: Welcome wild ideas, 4: Combine and improve those ideas. The idea with brainstorming is to be free and easy with thoughts and concepts; to really let the ideas flow. You might want to brainstorm in an unusual location – perhaps outdoors somewhere inspiring, or working at a café in the business district you’d eventually like to gravitate towards professionally. Collate all your ideas, no matter how far-fetched and crazy they might seem.

  1. Start a decision diary

A diary can be a great way to capture your ideas. Not everyone likes to write, but a diary can comprise of articles you’ve saved, images that spark “flow” or contacts and people you have met along your career journey. One of the added advantages of a decision diary is that you can refer back to it as your ideas and career progress, to really learn what your true motivators and skills are. Consider a locked online blog; there are many free websites that allow you to keep a diary online, or simply start a folder or journal of some kind. The approach is up to you.

  1. Research statistics in your area of work

Something that so many people fail to do is to research their desired job field properly. They might have lofty ideas of becoming a logistics manager, media developer or school counsellor, but when they go to job seek they find only limited jobs available in their local areas. Look at historical government data, follow industry news sites, check out platforms like for salary info, and most importantly, search for current jobs in your area, to see how likely it is that you’ll gain employment. You might find that with a few tweaks to your search, you’ll open up further opportunities.

  1. Talk to your best friend

Take any advice you get from family members and friends with a grain of salt, as often they can underestimate the job market you’re aiming for and might push their own ideals and agendas onto you. Having said this, asking some searching questions of those you care about can often provide some insight into your deeper motivators and personality. Ask open-ended questions like, “When have you seen me the most happy?” and, “What have you always considered to be my most saleable personality strengths?” It might seem out of the ordinary but when you are on the path of self-discovery, sometimes it pays to get the opinions of those who know you best, and who want the best for you.


Yvette McKenzie is a content marketing and media specialist with online education brand Upskilled . She is passionate about new technologies, accessible education, content strategy and worldwide job market trends.


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