If you were lucky, you had parents who told you that you could do anything when you grew up if you just followed your passion. If you were even luckier, they also told you that you needed more than just passion for a dream job, the career that will last you a lifetime.
Research shows that millennials are more optimistic and have higher expectations for their future than any other generation before them, but at the same time, we’re not making the most informed career choices. We’ve been touted the message of passion and loving what you do our whole lives, and as a result, there are huge gaping holes in the job market in areas that new graduates are not sufficiently enthusiastic about. Well-paid, interesting roles in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) regularly go unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates. To tap that potential market, you need to follow two other things apart from your passion.
The 3 must-haves for a great career choice
There are three critical factors to consider when strategising about your future career path: passion, strengths and market. Passion is undeniably important. Without it, you may be looking at decades of boredom and disengagement, and will always lack the ingredient needed to engage and persuade others. On the other hand, without the other two components, you could be joining the vast crowd of unemployed artists, musicians and philosophers.
A successful career choice must be supported by all three factors. Passion and strengths without knowledge of the market will cause you to invest a lot of time and effort in something that no one else is interested in paying money for. Passion coupled with a commercial instinct may lead you to try out for Britain’s Got Talent but be sent packing with the boos of the audience ringing in your ears. You need all three!
How to connect your passions to careers that pay
If you are a millennial, it’s more important than anything for future job satisfaction to take the time to think through your job prospects. Remember, you are part of the generation for whom optimism is both an advantage and a handicap. Your passions are a great starting point, allowing you to direct your gaze to certain areas – next you must investigate what real-world jobs they could be connected to.
- Use online tools, such as careerinfonet.org/skills, which takes a list of your skills and matches it to jobs that require those skills.
- Research the job roles suggested by the tools and find out what people in those positions actually do day after day – this might not always be obvious, and you might be surprised.
- Find a real person in a role that has all three factors for you, and ask to interview them, or even shadow them at work.
Adapted from Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Building an Outstanding Career by Dan Shawbel.