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What to Do When You Can’t Choose Between Career Paths

Written by CB Community

From the time we are very young, we are encouraged to think about what we will be when we grow up.

Long before high school graduation nears, students are expected to have explored prospective career paths and applied to colleges and universities.

Parents, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, television, the internet – career information is abundant. But when it is actually time to decide on your lifelong career, will you be ready?

First, we’ll discuss what students should do and think about when deciding on a career path. Then, we’ll look at ways of determining the best choice between two competing job offers.

Choosing Your Path

Whether you’re still in school or looking for a change mid-career, these tips can help you choose your career path.

Explore Your Interests and Talents

What do you like to do in your free time? What inspires and excites you? What are you good at?

When deciding on a career, it is good to explore your talents and interests and research careers related to these.

You should also open yourself to additional experiences – you might discover interests you didn’t know you had!

Consider doing one or more of the following:

  • Volunteer
  • Do outdoor activities
  • Read
  • Take a cooking class
  • Try out computer coding
  • Take up a hobby

Research Job Market Trends

Some fields are growing rapidly, with hundreds of thousands of positions expected to open up in the next few years.

Other fields are on the decline or are so saturated with skilled candidates that finding a job is difficult.

Selecting a growing field can help ensure that you will be able to find a job after you finish your schooling.

Additionally, some fields have a high turnover rate due to stress or other factors. Choose a career that you believe you can excel in over the long term.

Consider Your Academic Strengths

What are/were your favorite classes in school? In which classes did you make the best grades? Consider the academic requirements of training in a particular field.

Some jobs, such as engineering or computer science, rely heavily on numbers and mathematics. Others have greater needs for speech and communication skills.

Spend a Day in Those Shoes

Once you’ve decided on one or more possible paths, you should obtain more information about what a typical day in that field would be like – what duties and responsibilities can you expect?

What will your schedule be like?

You can dig deeper into your career in the following ways:

  • Tour a university that offers courses or degrees in your field. Talk to professors and current students.
  • Interview someone who works in the field. Ask to shadow them for a day, observing their activities.
  • Read current job postings, paying special attention to duties, work schedules, and the like.

Deciding Between Competing Job Offers

So, you’ve decided on your career path and put in multiple applications.

Suddenly, you have two or more employers making offers!

Both opportunities have their pros and cons, and you aren’t sure which one to take. How can you decide?

First, think about your personal circumstances.

What benefits or flexibility does your family need? How much money do you need to make to maintain your current lifestyle?

Make a list of the minimum “necessities” your job must meet and a second list of benefits or perks you’d like to have but could live without.

Next, get all the information you can – your responsibilities as well as remuneration and benefits. Be sure to get this information in writing – word-of-mouth promises are not adequate here.

Use this checklist to make sure you’ve acquired all the information you need:

  • Childcare
  • Discounts
  • Family leave
  • Frequency of raises
  • Health insurance
  • Hours per week
  • Life insurance
  • Location/distance/commute times
  • Other perks
  • Overtime pay
  • Performance bonuses
  • Personal and sick days
  • Profit sharing
  • Relocation funds
  • Remote work options
  • Retirement accounts
  • Salary
  • Scheduling
  • Signing bonus
  • Start date and probation period
  • Stock options
  • Travel stipends
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Vacation time

Now, you can compare the job offers side by side. Certain aspects – such as salary, location, and health insurance – will likely hold more weight than others.

If one job meets your “necessities” category, but the other does not, the decision is easy. Some workplaces offer interesting perks that keep employees happy.

But if both fulfill your needs and more, you may need to think more deeply about your prospective work environment.

Company culture and work environment can play a huge role in how much you enjoy the time you spend at work. Ask yourself:

  • Is the work environment pleasant?
  • Does your personality mesh well with the overall company culture?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?
  • What is the business’s reputation?
  • Do your values align with the company’s values and mission?

The fact is, there may not be a wrong decision. You simply have to weigh the facts and decide which offer is best for you.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.