How can I get a job if I don’t know what I want to do with my life?

Are you struggling in your job search because you don’t know what to do with your life? It can be daunting to consider all the opportunities out there. If you are stuck, here are a few thoughts and suggestions to get you started moving forward:

Totally lost? Start with what you don’t want

Sometimes the best starting point is to list what you really hate doing. Maybe you hate speaking on the phone, are bored by math or abhor social media. Write down what you truly dislike to do. While you may not be able to avoid what you dislike entirely, you can rule out opportunities where a good portion of time is spent doing something that makes you unhappy.

Browse job boards and highlight what you like in the job description

Forget finding the perfect opportunity. Start by looking at random job postings and highlight competencies and skills that you think you would be good at or appeal to you. It doesn’t really matter what the opportunities are, just make sure to find a bunch of substantially different positions. Once you have a list of competencies and skills, look for common key words and themes. Is there an industry that seems to pop-out? Take a few of the top key words and plug them into a large job posting site such as  What opportunities come up? What skills do you need to get those opportunities? Is there a less experienced version of that opportunity if you don’t currently possess the skills for the posting? If you are over-qualified, is there a more experienced version that interests you?

Consider the work environment

Do you want to be outdoors or in an office? Would you prefer to work in an open floor space with lots of people or by yourself in a private office? Looking at where and how you want to work can help you focus on positions that are a good fit with your preferred environment. Also, consider the organizational culture. Is it faced-paced or relaxed? Do they focus on teamwork, or is everything a competition? Is there room for growth and do you care? Take note of the leadership within the organization when possible, they set the core values for the organization. 

Start with the company

Maybe you don’t care what you do as long as you work for the right company. Think through companies that you value and note what you value about them. Is it the way the company gives back to the community? Is it their reputation? Are you a fan of their products? Once you know why that company is important, you can search for similar companies and focus your job search by looking at opportunities within comparable organizations that share similar values.

What to do next

Once you have a few potential areas of interest, it’s time to reach out to people within that industry to learn more. You can find people within your network, or you can look up relevant associations and see if they have a career section. From there, you can check out relevant postings to see what skills and certifications are required along with how to gain knowledge within the industry.

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