7 questions to help figure out if you’re ready to make a career decision

Do you know what you want to be? What career are you going to pursue? Have you decided a career plan? Do you know what you want to be?


The pressure to pick a career is all around you. But maybe you aren’t ready to choose right now. Think about these seven questions.

Do you:

Have no career interests? When someone asks you what careers look interesting to you, you can’t name any. It’s tough to find a career of interest if you’ve already eliminated the majority of options.

Have too many career interests? Every job looks interesting. It’s just as hard to make a decision when almost every job looks interesting.

Rely on others to do the research for you? Who is more curious about your career plans, you or family members? Are others scheduling appointments for you with career counselors? Do they attend the meetings with you and ask most questions and supply most answers? Decisions about careers begin and end with you. You will be the one pursuing the degree and job opportunities.

Want to keep all options open? A long list of career options is a great place to start. But refusing to let go of career ideas, especially the ones that conflict with other factors, makes it tough to decide. For example, the student who wants to be a doctor may need to eliminate this option from the list if she dislikes science courses or doesn’t want to commit to long-term education plans.

Hope to narrow your focus right away? Narrowing your focus is a good idea as long as it’s done for the right reasons. Picking something just to “get the decision over with” isn’t a good strategy.

Need to tend to other matters? If there are personal concerns to tend to, it’s important to address them first. Stresses from external circumstances can affect decision making and hinder your ability to make a solid career decision right now.

Lack work experience? If you haven’t experienced doing assigned duties, meeting goals, working with others and having a supervisor, it can affect your ability to make a career decision. Every job, full or part-time is an introduction to the world of work.

If you answered yes to any of the above, don’t worry. There are steps you can take to begin the process of finding a career path.

1. Start noticing jobs around you. In your neighborhood and in your family; on campus and in books, movies and television. What are your reactions to them? Start a “cool jobs list” by simply writing down jobs that look interesting. Don’t worry about education requirements, skills or salary. Just pay attention to interests.

2. Begin a journal. What are your likes and dislikes? What did you enjoy as a child? What hobbies do you like now? Who do you admire and why? What type of environment do you prefer (indoors, outdoors, quiet, loud, lots of people, no people)? Answers to these questions help you learn about yourself, a critical first step in the career search.

3. Meet with a career counselor. The conversation that takes place may reveal that you aren’t ready yet to make any decisions. And that’s okay!  A career counselor can provide information that gets you thinking about careers that you’ll consult when you are ready. A career counselor can also help identify other resources that might provide more immediate assistance that you need.

Not everyone figures out career plans at the exact same age or year in school. Being a deciding student is okay as long as you’re taking steps to learn about yourself and the world of work so that you’ll know what information to use when you’re ready to decide.