Finding That Dream Career

According to Elite Daily, only 6% of people achieve their childhood dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. So then why is it a topic of conversation, or even a goal, for our kids or an expectation of us as parents or grandparents?

Regardless of the target success rate, I believe it’s still a valid question and an important one you should be asking yourself. Much like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, what does it matter which path you take if it doesn’t matter where you end up? Knowing where you want to end up, or at least an idea of a direction, is the first step in your journey. Whether you actually end up there  doesn’t matter. What matters is you set a goal and a direction, took steps to get there, learned along the way, and adjusted as you went. After all - and the cliche is so true - life’s about the journey, not the destination.

For instance, in my career journey, I never heard of Human Resources when exploring career options in jobs out of college. I loved my psychology class in college and recall some faint interest in an organizational leadership course, though never took it. So, based on my interests at the time, I started in IT and learned of my abilities and interests along the way, which included a passion for process improvement and helping people. Because I was open to exploring career options along the way, I had a chance to turn this passion into a job in HR and an HR masters degree, with a new budding identity as an HR professional. Although not part of my "when I grow up plan", it's definitely something that suits me now and undiscoverable had I not taken a first step in IT.

So what did I do to navigate this journey along the way? What strategies did I use to structure my learning and next step decisions? While talking to people, reading, doing, and reflecting are core parts of the overall experience, I found I learned the most through career assessments. These were tools that summarized things I knew best and translated my preferences into types of work. Of the hundreds of career assessments out there, here are the top five I would recommend:

  • You Science (
  If you have patience and a couple hours, this is one of the most comprehensive career assessments on the market. Through your responses to several questions, it tests your aptitude, abilities, and interests and translates them into real world careers. The website and user interface are very simple and engaging - making it feel like 'fun' when answering brain games like sequential reasoning and associative memory (some of my personal favorites, but realize not for everyone). What I love most - is once you finish the questions, it tells you the careers that are fit for you, on a scale of best to medium fit, tells you about them, tells you what degrees are required, and even the job availability in your area. It's quite amazing!  For only $29 you can get all this information, personalized and actionable just for you.

  • Myers Briggs
  Perhaps the most common assessment out there, Myers Briggs continues to be a great way to learn more about your personal preferences, how your brain works, and how that defines careers best suited for you. Once you take the assessment (for free at or else for $49.95 at you can read the materials on that site (included in your paid test) or else read the details on, regardless of where you take it. This website has great graphics for each profile and a section specific to Career Paths. With insights and specific examples of how you best work, you can use this information to guide you into the types of work and work environments you would best fit in. For better career satisfaction, I highly recommend not going into a job that doesn't reflect at least 50% of your profile.

  • Self Directed Search (SDS)
I first learned about this tool in my masters class on career development. I love it because it breaks down the core elements of work into selection criteria that point your preferences into specific careers, based on the full list found at O*Net Online ( Completing the assessment in and of itself can be extremely insightful - because it helps you see all the different types of work out there - in an office setting or outside, organizing or analyzing, sitting and standing, etc... Just complete the assessment with your goals, dreams, activities, and interests, and it will send you three types of careers best suited for you. It's one of the best and most tangible assessments out there and one I would highly recommend. It costs $9.95 and worth every penny.

  • Occupation Database Online (O*Net online -
  The most comprehensive list of occupations available anywhere in the US can be found at O*Net Online. This is the nation's primary source of occupational information, run by the US government, containing hundreds of standard descriptors on 1,000+ jobs. It's also a great place for veterans to translate military skills to civilian jobs. While it's used as a basis for job postings, job analysis, and skill development, it has several beneficial categories that can help you find the types of jobs that interest you. It's totally free to use and contains lots of good information, with an option to search for jobs in your area at the end.

So take the time to invest in yourself to learn of your core strengths and preferences and then use this information if every part of your career journey. Even if you set a destination, a course to get there and then fall majorly off track - applying the knowledge of your personality preferences is a sure way to land in jobs that suit you best and who knows - perhaps place you in a destination beyond that exceeds all expectations and wildest dreams. And good news - this stuff doesn’t change (very much) over time, so once you do it - you have guideposts for life, for a lasting legacy of work.

#ChooseGreatWork #WorkHappy

Related Posts