It can be tempting to go after a high paying job that sounds exciting and there are always new, trendy jobs that seem to promise lifelong happiness. Some of them may be a good fit for you, but some may not be a good fit. Here are some tips to discern the careers that may be rewarding to you long term.

When choosing a career path, it’s important to be wise in your decision-making process. Some careers may pay a lot but at what cost? Will you travel 90% of the time? Do you have to move every 2 years? Will you work 80 or more hours per week? For some, all of those questions would be a resounding, “Yes! That sounds great!” Your criteria may change over time. When you are young and single, constant travel may seem like a great adventure. If you decide to get married and have children, uprooting your family every 2 years may become less appealing. So, for now, let’s focus on the type of work that you will enjoy. Even though the work environment may change depending on where you are in life, here are some considerations that will always be a factor.

There are a few things to consider before making that final decision:

  • Consider what you want from a career. A career is usually a long-term commitment. It’s important to determine exactly what you want from yours.
  • Identify your skill sets. Take a moment to list the things you’re good at and that you enjoy. Notice that I said, “…that you enjoy.” There are a lot of jobs out there. Why not be happy? Why not enjoy your work? Don’t promote yourself as an accounting genius if you hate accounting. That makes for a long day!
  • Consider what you’re passionate about. Remember that although you may specific goals for your career, it may be hard to reach them if you aren’t passionate about the work itself.
  • Determine the market for that career. What does the future look like? Beware of choosing a career that has waned in popularity or demand.
  • Something important to consider is gaining experience and diversifying your skill set to make yourself more marketable. There may be developmental opportunities in one field that will allow you to excel in others.Do you think your personal satisfaction can come from achieving recognition? Would you feel accomplished if you’re recognized for your achievements? What is your definition of achievement?

So, now that we’ve established that you will list the skills that you enjoy using, how can you stand out from the crowd using these skills? What makes you different from the others? Are you more detail oriented, good with numbers or service-oriented than most people? If you aren’t sure what you have to offer, go to and look through jobs. Start pulling together a list of the requirements of the jobs that sound interesting. I am guessing that the criteria that sounds interesting is either something that you have done and enjoyed in the past; is something that you would like to learn or, perhaps, has a transferable skill that you have used and enjoyed in the past.

  • Does your career path show that you like learning and that you are ambitious? A recruiter could discern this if you have been promoted. Bonus: you were promoted while working and going to school at the same time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Avoid overstating your skill sets. For example, if you say you are bilingual in French, they may conduct the interview in French. For languages, I recommend saying basic, conversational, proficient, fluent or bilingual (that is, you were raised with both languages and speak both natively). If you’re only slightly familiar with something, avoid listing it. On the flip side, if you’re good at something, own it! For example, if you list Excel you can put pivot tables, formulas, etc. in parenthesis so the recruiter has a better understanding of your level of skill.
  • It’s great to find a high paying career but if the job makes you miserable, you’ll soon want to turn your back on all that money or you will start spending it to make up for your misery! Retail therapy is real. Ensure that whatever you choose, your heart is in it. If you aren’t sure if you will like it or not, go in with an open mind.
  • Almost any job has some wiggle room where you have some freedom to make it your own.  A little creativity can turn a somewhat interesting career into something really fun and rewarding.

In my personal experience, every experience teaches you something. It’s almost as though each experience is a mirror and you are seeing parts of yourself that you didn’t know where there. You may discover some hidden talents that you would not have seen without this experience. Each experience will give you more clarity about what you like doing and what you don’t like doing. This is extremely valuable. Take note and find your reoccurring themes. What drains you? What energizes you?

Research current job market trends to develop an understanding of up and coming careers.

Your career path requires both thought and research. At the end of the day, your aim is to make the most out of the opportunity. Preparation and research can help you make the right choice. So go forward with excitement and an open mind. As you go down your path, you will understand more and more about yourself which will help you pick your ideal career.

Resources for career research

The Occupational Outlook Handbook

Career One Stop