Need New Career Ideas:
What Your Past Jobs  Can Teach You About Your Future?

Before you let yourself get inundated with too many career ideas, start with what you already know about yourself. Use your past work experience to guide you forward. Making the right career choices means getting a grip on what you liked, and disliked about all your past jobs.

This exercise is easy and fun.

Create a master list of every job you’ve had up until now. Then, start a new sheet for each job, putting the title at the top of the page. Under each job title, make two lists. One is a list of things you loved about that job, the other, a list of all the things you disliked.

When doing this, I find it helpful to walk yourself through the daily routine in your mind. That way you’ll remember to factor in all the details of the job, including the hours, the location, the workplace structure, etc.

Here are a few broad categories to get you started:

Ø  Location and schedule of work: Did the location and work hours compliment or cramp your lifestyle?

Ø  Workplace environment: Did the energy in the workplace suit or stifle your personality?

Ø  The job itself: Were you stimulated or bored most of the time?

Ø  Your boss: Did his management style empower or cripple you?

Ø  The organization: Did it offer the kind of stability and growth you are looking for?

Asking yourself specific questions within each of these categories will force you to give honest answers about what makes you happy.

Do this for each of your past jobs, and you’ll start to see a patte of new career ideas take shape, ones that suit you.

When you finish this exercise, you should start to get an idea of what type of environment you see yourself in. Use this information along with the other exercises on this site, to craft out an image of your dream job.

Education Vs. Experience:
What are Employers Really Looking For?

Which holds more value to an employer, education or experience?

Over the years, many strong cases have been made supporting each side of this debate. Factors like rising costs of education and shrinking job markets have created a fluctuation in opinions along the way.

Of course, there are some professions that absolutely require some sort of professional accreditation or license.

Putting aside those professions that absolutely must have a degree, this is still a valid debate.

There are two clear sides here, each one valid.

On the one hand, you have the argument that an education is required if a young person is to have any kind of future. Good jobs are hard to come by and the competition is fierce.

On the other hand, many believe there is no better school than on-the-job training. Actually doing something in real life will never be matched by hearing about it or simulating it, and the weeks of job placement at the end of the study semester cannot compete with actual job experience.

Let’s take a closer look:

Pursuing post-secondary education requires that you know what you want to do. There is a significant time and financial commitment attached to higher learning, and of course no guarantees of employment, or happiness. You’ll be wasting a lot of time and money if you decide in four years that you’ve made the wrong career choice. You could also be investing in a declining industry.

On the flip side, you could get a job in a chosen field and take advantage of the opportunity to observe and lea, gain experience, and see if you’re compatible. In the four years that a peer spends in college, you can try out several career avenues and quite possibly find your true calling.

Following the study years, a graduate typically has to start in an entry-level position anyway, right, so are they really any farther ahead than the uneducated counterpart with four years of experience? Some would say no, the graduate is already four years behind and carrying a massive student debt.

However, in a competitive job market, an education often edges out the applicant who didn’t study the profession – but not always. Assuming both candidates have equal experience levels, the applicant who cared enough to invest in his future by going to school is often viewed as a safer choice than the drifter who wasn’t stable enough to set goals and see them through.

That’s a pessimistic outlook, but the job market can be that harsh. Employers can be very unforgiving when looking to narrow down applicants.

In the end, getting an education is not something that one would ever look back on with regret, but not get an education might be.

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