Smartly choosing your first job!

I have completed my studies, what shall I do now? I’m getting frustrated; There is no one to guide me; Shall I go for marketing or IT – all my friends are choosing these fields?“. Don’t these phrases sound very familiar when we meet fresh passouts, who are preparing to gain entry into the corporate world but lack clarity on which way to go?

Abundance of options makes the choice even difficult. How many of us could afford going to career counselors or had access to internet or could spend money asking for guidance? In fact, most of us never even think of doing proper evaluation and don’t realize it until we end up doing a non-satisfying job.

Here are some learnings based on my experience and interaction with various job seekers and professionals. This is just a guide and lot more depends on your taking an ‘educated and informed’ decision:

1. Set a mission statement for yourself: What I really want to do? Ask yourself these questions: What I really enjoy doing; what are my values; where do I want to see myself after 10 or 20 years: a helping person, a technical person, an entrepreneur, a sportsman? Check out http://www.6decisions.com for help on making your own mission statement.

2. Define your short and long-term goals: A path traveled without destination in mind takes you nowhere. Set a goal for yourself, you can revise and keep updating it as and when you become more aware of what you want and what you can do.

3. Job and skill set mapping: Make a list of the various jobs of your interest: travel, technology, counseling etc. Also list down your skill sets and do the mapping with the jobs of your interest. This will help you weigh down various possibilities and explore the job of your choice by helping you identify the gaps in your skill set that can be built up gradually or by undertaking some professional courses.

4. Analyze your strengths and weak areas: List down what are you good at, what are your strong points that can really help you in achieving your mission and goal. Also identify the things that you’re not good at but they are ‘required’ for the job you want to pursue. Do a proper SWOT analysis of yourself. You can do this exercise along with job mapping.

5. Identify personal training needs and required resources: Ones you’ve listed down the jobs of your interest and identified your strengths and weaknesses, identify your personal training needs. For example, you may wish to go for call center job, which requires good communication skills but poor communication skills is one of your weak areas.

Find out ways of how can you improve your communication skills before you go for the interview. You may enroll yourself for a communication training or join a call center as a fresher that provides you training, do regular reading to improve your vocabulary etc.

6. Look out for various options: Be open to look for multiple opportunities that suit your interests and the skills you possess so that you have a backup plan. For example, if you are interested in a job that involves guiding and educating people, you may apply for a teaching job. However, if that doesn’t work well for you, you can keep preparing yourself for a counseling or any similar job.

7. Gain experience, do free lancing: If you are not yet prepared to take up a full time job, you can do some freelancing or join a group with your friends having similar interests and apply your knowledge practically. Work on small projects that you can always showcase in your resume or join relevant trainings so that you’re better equipped than others and can grab a good opportunity that comes your way.

8. Be optimistic: It’s very easy to get frustrated when efforts and search do not pay soon. Take time, be calm and do some stress relieving activities like pursuing your hobbies, adding more value to yourself by undergoing relevant trainings. Most importantly, keep trying. The more you explore, more aware and knowledgeable you become of the field of your interest which is always helpful even during the job. Take any decision with a calmed mind as it’s extremely important to enjoy the work that you’re doing to be satisfied and successful at the end.

9. Networking: Networking is a key thing that helps build you more contacts. Join networking sites, various groups related to the field of your choice and gain more information and exchange your perspectives. Talk to people working in those fields to understand the hidden realities behind a rosy picture. This will help you make a realistic decision.

10. Read books: Most of us would raise our eyebrows on this suggestion, however books definitely help gain more knowledge and broaden our perspectives about ourselves, career, society, world etc., making us a better human being and ultimately leading to better decision making.

So get ahead and make a smart move!

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