Job Search Advice for People Who Don’t Know What They Want to Do

One of the toughest questions people can ask themselves is “What do I want to do with my life?” It usually applies to their careers, and finding that direction can be extremely difficult if the path isn’t already clearly laid out.

But if you realize that you can be hired to do just about anything, the question starts to become less intimidating. It opens up a lot of possibilities that you may have ignored or overlooked, even if that doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

You can be a great interviewer, have a great educational background, and a strong work ethic, but those things won’t help you if you’re still entering the job market unsure of what you want to do. The dilemma must be solved if you want to advance your life.

These tips can help you narrow down your choices, and choose the best career path for you.

Know What You Hate

This is the easiest step. Just eliminate jobs and industries that you already know you would hate.

When you present people with way too many choices, they might get overwhelmed. It seems silly, but realizing what careers you want absolutely nothing to do with is a productive first step. It removes, perhaps, a huge list of careers.

On a lot of job searches, you have the ability to filter these out and if you have a list already on hand, it can save you a lot of time down the road.

Use an Interest Profiler

If you can choose a direction because you aren’t sure what you’re good at, you should try an interest profiler.

These self-assessment tools lead you through a series of questions to help determine careers that suit your likes and dislikes. This particular one will also inform you of the educational and training level for jobs in each area. It can be great place to start when you don’t know what you want to do.

Self-assessment is important in figuring out how you want to spend 40 hours a week. There are other ways to do it, but this will get the ball rolling.

Find Out Where You Want to Be

When you are looking for a job, a huge focus of the decision should be where you want to live. It’s going to be hard to work in the tech industry in rural Kansas. Often, location guides the industries available.

It might be worth looking into what jobs are available where you want to live and which industries are most prominent. Local job sites are a good way to do this. For example, if you want to live in New York City, you can cruise New York Jobs to see what kinds of opportunities are available for your skillset and education.

If you know where you want to live, it should be a big factor in deciding what you do.

Organize Your Search

You have to get organized with your search. Make a list of all 16 career clusters. Career clusters help you determine which niches you want to avoid and which vocations you are interested in.

Industries, at least in the United States, can be sorted into 16 categories or career clusters. Rather than searching through every job title, you can eliminate thousands of potential jobs by eliminating a single category.

Search only categories that align with the clusters you want to work in.

Learn What You Like

After you have identified and eliminated industries that you definitely don’t want to be associated with, circle those that appeal to you most. Rank them in the order that you prefer them. Then, narrow it to specific job titles found within a career cluster.

If you still aren’t hooked on an industry, browse a little deeper. Search using descriptors and adjectives for the things you’re looking for.  You might find that you want to be a chocolate taster, a sommelier, or travel writer.

It doesn’t have to be a conventional office job. If that’s not you, there are plenty of other ways to make a living.

Research Companies in Your Target Area

So you chose where you want to live, selected job titles you’re interested in, and got your search organized.

Now it’s time to check out individual companies you might interested in working with. A good way to do this is to search job titles that align with descriptions that intrigued you. Results will show companies in your area that are hiring for these positions. Organize all these companies and opportunities into a list.

After you have compiled your list of companies, research the salary scales at each company. Rank the list based on location and salary. If your experience qualifies you to apply, then begin to reach out through the information provided.

Apply and Keep Applying

After you have found the location, the job title, and the company, it is time to reach out to these companies. Know that you won’t always get the call for the interview, and often you won’t hear anything at all.

Realize this is ok and don’t take it personally. It may take a bit to land your dream job. Don’t be discouraged and keep working the job search process. A successful job hunt ends with you getting the job you want, not just any old job.

Remember that, and keep applying.


Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.