How to decide on your career path

Making a decision about your career path can be tricky. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’re looking to change the career path you’re already on, this can be a scary choice.


After all, what you choose today, could set the course for the rest of your life, right? Well, yes and no. Let’s explore it in this post! 

Can you have more than one soulmate? I mean… career path?   

Okay, okay. So, you might be one of those people who believes that you can only have one soulmate or true love. And I’m not here to debate the accuracy of that belief. But I can tell you without a doubt, that you can have many career paths in your life. So you don’t have to freak out that you are deciding upon the course of your life, within just one moment. 

I recently spoke at a wonderful women’s networking event, KYHO Networking at University of Technology Sydney. One of the beautiful young ladies there asked for my advice about making a decision on her career path, once she completed her degree. My advice? Cut yourself some slack. The decisions you make today don’t have to affect you forever. If you’re new to the workforce, take some time to see what you like. Throw your hat in the ring for multiple opportunities. Say “yes” to things that are outside your comfort zone. Don’t stress yourself to a point where you’re too scared to make a decision about your own career path. You with me?  

Start with an idea… 

Do you have any ideas about what you’d like to do in your career? What did you want to be when you grew up, when you were a child? (I wanted to be Indiana Jones… there’s still time.) What types of activities or industries light you up? What would you do if money wasn’t a barrier? Where do your strengths lie? What are you good at? 

These are all questions you can ask yourself when you’re trying to make a decision about your (near) future. And if you can’t think of anything right now, you can consider working with a career coach (like me *waves*) to explore these questions, and more, to gain clarity around your options.

Choose a profession 

The next thing that you need to do is choose an exact professionI know, this sounds incredibly daunting. But in order to move forward, you need to pick something, keeping in mind that as we discussed, it doesn’t need to be a forever choice.

What I have seen, when people are reluctant to choose (primarily because of lack of clarity around what they want to do, or lack of confidence in their ability to pull it off), they end up meandering and spending a lot of time picking up random jobs that they don’t enjoy, that don’t contribute to their overall career goals. This is not one of those times when you just want to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what happens. You’re in the driver’s seat, so make it count! 

Check if you need further education…

Once you have more of an idea about what career path you want to pursue, you should check if you need further education. I’m a huge advocate of learning and encourage you to think outside the square when looking at potential learning opportunities (for example, did you know you could get an online Masters in Reading?). But here’s a word of warning. Often we can get caught up chasing qualifications or further education because of imposter syndrome. 

When considering your education options, don’t forget that formal qualifications aren’t the be-all-and-end-all. There are loads of other ways to increase your knowledge, including online courses, blogs, books, mentorship and in-person workshops. Take your preferred learning style into consideration. Do you prefer to learn independently at your own pace? Or perhaps a face-to-face workshop where you implement your learnings in real time is a better option for you. 

Make the most of it 

Of course, you should try your best to make the most out of any learnings you receive along your journey (shhh! She used the “j” word – this must be serious!”)The beauty of learning is that if you don’t enjoy it, you can still change your mind. 

“What? Two points ago, you said we had to choose a profession!”

I get it. It may seem like I’ve contradicted myself, but I promise, I haven’t. In order to achieve a goal, you need to know what the goal is. But that doesn’t mean that the goal is set in stone. Your goals may change over time and one goal may in fact just be a stepping stone to another goal. Isn’t it beautiful? You get to choose. So make the most of it! 

Don’t make a decision about your career path without reading this post first! 

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Get a haircut and get a real job…

Now, the haircut isn’t mandatory, but it is probably time you got a job, right? Once you have chosen a profession and completed any required training or education, getting a job is the next step. This is really the part where your career path changes from being an idea or a dream, into reality. Dun dun dunnnnnnnn! (You can feel the drama!) 

Whether this is your first job or you’re changing your career path to move into a different role or industry, you should really focus on your skills, strengths and attributes. Sometimes these are called “transferrable skills” because you can transfer them from one career path to another. 

Now it’s time to see what happens… 

I don’t want to seem blasé here. We all need jobs to pay our rent and mortgages and to put food on the table for our families. But if you go through this process and you find that the job you end up in is not what you thought it would be, you can make the choice to change again. 

My clients are usually shocked when I say this because, “won’t that look terrible on my resume?”.  

I have three answers to this hypothetical. 

  1. No. It won’t look terrible on your resume. It will just look like you stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new and that you didn’t enjoy it. Shit happens. This happens. Regularly.  
  2. Even if it did look terrible on your resume, would that mean it is worth continuing to be unhappy? I know. I’m answering a question with a question. But I’m hoping that you can sense my single raised eyebrow 🤨 and discerning look. And I really hope that you’re answer is a swift “no”. 
  1. Finally, if an employer ruled you out because you had a quick-change-after-a-change on your resume, then they’re probably not the type of employer you want to work for in the first place. We like open-minded employers around here, people!

That’s all I have to say on this topic!

Do you have anything you’d like to add? Feel free to leave me a comment or get in touch. If you’re interested in exploring this topic in more detail with a career coach, you can find out more about my packages, here. 

How to decide on your career path (whether you’re new to the workforce, or looking for a change!) – Pop Your Career

Are you sick of sending out applications and not getting any traction when what you really need is to be securing a job? I hear you. In this post, we’re going right back to basics to talk about how you can increase your chances of receiving an offer letter with your name on it! – Pop Your Career


About the Author


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.

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