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Career Exploration – 5 Important Things to do When Considering Careers

The word Career is encircled with 5 arrows on a chalkboard. Each of the arrow represent Education, Vision, Skills, Goals, and Interests.

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Editor’s Note:

From the moment I met Career Coach, Ken Meeker we enthusiastically connected. It was during the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA. I had just finished my speech when he came up to me and told me how much my words resonated with him. Afterward we had a Zoom call where we exchanged our sight loss stories and found we had even more in common.

It’s so rare to find others who understand what it’s like having vitrectomy surgery, and even more so in younger people but Ken and I shared this experience. As we continued talking I learned his mom, like me, raised 3 sons as a single parent. On and on our conversation continued and we unearthed a number of commonalities among them is our introverstion. Meeting other introverts that is so moving to me and I’m happy to introduce you to my friend Ken who was a recent Man In Motion here on Bold Blind Beauty. Enjoy his first article! ~Steph

Career Exploration – 5 Important Things to do When Considering Careers

Everyone has important life goals they want to achieve. Our careers play a key role in our ability to reach these goals. This is why it is important to take time to examine your goals and align them with a career that empowers you to successfully accomplish your goals. Here are 5 things everyone can do when they are looking for a career that aligns with their goals. 

Closeup of a woman's hands holding a journal. The heading reads "My Main Life Goals" with the start of a list underneath.

1. Ask “What do I want?”

Asking yourself this important question first lets you examine the things a career needs to provide so your goals are attainable. To do this, write out what you realistically want your life to look like in 2, 5, and 10 years from now. By doing this you identify the life goals most important to you. An example of this might be that in 10 years you want to be a home owner. In order to reach this goal, your career needs to provide you with the means to buy a home.

When we take the time to ask ourselves what we realistically want our life to look like at 2-, 5-, and 10-year intervals, our career trajectory should align with our goals. Important questions to ask about careers that interest you are: What are the salary projections, what kind of job growth is there, are there opportunities to advance, and are opportunities present in your community?

Core Values is written in large white text next to a list of words on multi colored arrows: Honesty, Morality, Respect, Caring, Committment.

2. Identify your core values

Identifying your core values helps you focus on a career that is personally fulfilling. It can also help find fields or niche areas that you are passionate about. To do this, make a list of qualities you think are most important in a company, its culture, or its employees. Try to limit your list to no more than 5 values. Then search for companies and job descriptions that share or align with the values on your list.

Taking a values assessment can help identify the values most important to you. A profession that fits your values is essential to be happy and engaged in your work. Creating awareness of your values helps identify careers or companies that are in alignment. For example, if you value recognition and want to move into a management position, you’re likely to be unhappy in a low-profile occupation that has little opportunity for advancement. Using a tool like the Survey of Interpersonal Values (SIV) can help you obtain the information you need to identify your values.

6-Panel photo grid containing the following images. 1) Multi-ethnic group of young adults out at a campfire.
2)A male triathlete swimming.
3)Silhouette of an astronomy telescope with the twilight sky as a backdrop.
4)Archeology researcher determining measurements of an ancient coin found at an excavation.
5)A black male chef with his arms crossed standing at a restaurant kitchen.
6)Blurred image of a photographer pointing their camera towards the camera.

3. What activities do you most enjoy? 

Depending on your personality, you may have interests that lend themselves to different careers. Examine your hobbies, volunteer experiences, and other interests to identify activities you enjoy. This information might appear outside a professional context, but creating a list of activities you enjoy could help you narrow down some potential career paths. Perhaps you like doing logic puzzles and a career in cybersecurity might be something to consider. Or if you love to meet lots of new people from diverse backgrounds a career in sales might be something worth considering.

Seek out short-term positions or volunteer opportunities where possible in career fields that are of interest. This firsthand experience helps you learn if a career you are considering is a good fit. Also consider taking an on-line course associated with the career field you are interested in. This can help determine if the career skills and content are something you enjoy.

Taking an interest quiz or assessment can also help identify careers you may not have considered. Personal interests often influence overall job performance and is typically better if your duties interest you. There are many free interest assessments online, such as the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) or the O*NET Interests Profiler, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. This assessment provides career suggestions based on the level of interest you have in a variety of subjects. 

Multi-colored books with letters on the spines that reads "Never Stop Learning"

4. What are your strengths, skills, & aptitudes? 

Make a list of your current skills, certifications, and areas of expertise. Asking coworkers and colleagues for feedback about your technical, interpersonal, and people management skills can also provide valuable insight as to what strengths they have seen in you. You can use this information to help you find careers that match your experience, skills, and strengths.

Skills assessments can identify careers that match your abilities. Every profession has specific sets of soft and hard skills necessary to perform the job. Soft skills are generally aptitudes you acquire naturally through interpersonal interaction. Hard skills are typically technical abilities gained through study or training. There are many free, online skills assessments such as the Career One Stop Skills Assessment available that can identify careers that align with your skills.

Creating a list of the skills necessary for careers you are interested in lets you see how your skills match. You can use the results from a skills assessment to make two separate lists: one of soft skills and one of hard skills. This can identify what skills you might need to obtain or strengthen for specific careers.

A yellow street sign that says "Career Path Ahead" against a blue sky with puffy white clouus.

5. Do you want to specialize in an industry?

After compiling a few careers that feel like a good fit, reviewing the particulars of each career will help you make an objective comparison. Below are some important questions to answer for each potential career:

  • What are the educational requirements?
  • Are the education time and effort requirements something you can commit to?
  • Can you meet the costs of the education or training?
  • Are professional certifications necessary?
  • Can you gain the necessary certification or credentialing while at your current job?
  • Are there skills you need to learn?
  • Is there specific on-the-job experience you will need to have?
  • Does the career meet your income and benefits needs?
  • How does the career align with your overall life goals?

Career exploration is one of the most important things to engage in as part of our professional lives. Taking time to examine your life goals and what you need a career to provide are important to finding a career that can help you reach your goals. Using the 5 steps in this article can help in your search for a career you can be happy with long term.

By: Ken Meeker CPC

About the author:

A professional waist shot of Ken a white man with arms folded across his chest. He has short dark hair and eyeglasses.  
Ken Meeker

Ken Meeker is a Certified Professional Coach, owner of Vitality Career Coaching LLC, and member of the NCDA. He specializes in executive and career coaching with a special emphasis on differently-abled individuals who want to return to work. He is a DEI consultant, Public Speaker, and advocates for inclusivity of marginalized groups. Ken is a 2021-2022 AFB Blind Leadership Development Program Fellow and will serve as a Mentor for the 2022-2023 program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/kenmeekeraz, kenmeekeraz@gmail.com or visit www.vitalitycareercoaching.com

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Image Descriptions:

  • The word Career is encircled with 5 arrows on a chalkboard. Each of the arrow represent Education, Vision, Skills, Goals, and Interests.
  • Closeup of a woman’s hands holding a journal. The heading reads “My Main Life Goals” with the start of a list underneath.
  • Core Values is written in large white text next to a list of words on multi colored arrows: Honesty, Morality, Respect, Caring, Committment.
  • 6-Panel photo grid containing the following images.
    • 1) Multi-ethnic group of young adults out at a campfire.
    • 2)A male triathlete swimming.
    • 3)Silhouette of an astronomy telescope with the twilight sky as a backdrop.
    • 4)Archeology researcher determining measurements of an ancient coin found at an excavation.
    • 5)A black male chef with his arms crossed standing at a restaurant kitchen.
    • 6)Blurred image of a photographer pointing their camera towards the camera.
  • Multi-colored books with letters on the spines that reads “Never Stop Learning”
  • A yellow street sign that says “Career Path Ahead” against a blue sky with puffy white clouus.
  • Author photo: A professional waist shot of Ken a white man with arms folded across his chest. He has short dark hair and eyeglasses.  
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