How To Choose A Career Path

As Seen In

logo of wsj
logo of wsj
logo of business-insider
logo of business-insider
logo of cnn
logo of cnn
logo of fatherly
logo of fatherly
logo of nbc
logo of nbc

Table Of Contents

Each year, millions of people embark on a career–over 3 million high school graduates, 4 million college graduates, and untold numbers of career changers, apprentices, upskillers, and entrepreneurs.

But choosing a career isn’t a one-time decision–or an easy one. It’s better to think of it as starting on a career path. You don’t need to know what’s at the end of the road. All you need to do is to take a few good first steps.

Quickstart Guide To Choosing A Career Path

  1. Polish your resume. Before you start applying for jobs, make sure your resume highlights your skills and experience. Resume writing services are affordable and can help you get expert resume help.
  2. Join a like-minded community. Join The UnBREAKable Community to connect with individuals who share your professional interests and aspirations. With the UnBREAKable Community, you get the resources, guidance, and confidence you need to pursue your passions, overcome obstacles, and create a fulfilling career on your terms.
  3. Start your job search on ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter is a free job posting site and you can apply for jobs with a single click! You can also explore real salary data on ZipRecruiter!

Discover Your Dream Job

Find jobs near you and apply with 1 click! New jobs posted daily.

get started with ziprecruiter
ZipRecruiter logo

5 Steps To Choose Your Career

How can you make sure you’re heading in the right direction? Start by being honest with yourself about what you want in a job, career, and life. Be wide-ranging in the beginning–there’s no need to narrow your options until you’ve had time to consider the possibilities.

Above all, listen to your gut. You’ll get a lot of advice when you’re choosing a career. Some of it will be useful and some of it won’t. But remember that no one knows your goals, passions, and priorities like you do.

Ignore Hot Jobs Lists

Job lists can be extremely useful, especially if they’re organized around a specific need. If you love to travel, want to work from home, or need part-time work that fits around your classes or caregiving responsibilities, a list of possibilities can help.

Hot jobs lists can be particularly helpful. Typically organized around occupational outlook and salary data, these lists aim to tell you which jobs will be hiring–and lucrative–in the years to come.

However, there’s a danger in taking these lists too much to heart. Just because a job is projected to grow and offers a good salary, doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. Force yourself into a job that’s a bad fit, and you’ll be unhappy–and likely, unsuccessful.

Do Some Soul Searching

What do you like to do? Make a list. Again, don’t try to self-edit at this stage.

It’s fine if your list starts with activities that look like a recipe for continued unemployment, e.g. sleeping and playing video games.

But think about what feeds your passions: do you enjoy helping people, creating things, or managing projects with lots of details? Where do you feel most at home and in tune with what you’re doing? If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you still do every day–work out, make art, connect with others?

Connect With Professionals 

As your list grows, you might start to feel like you’re farther from an answer than you were at the beginning. Don’t despair. To narrow your options, start connecting with the folks who are already working in these fields.

Use your existing network to get started, leveraging LinkedIn, other social media, and good old-fashioned word of mouth to make connections. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be eager to talk to you about how much they love their job. Pay attention to what engages them and ask yourself if you would feel the same. It’s OK if the answer is no–that’s what will help you cross possibilities off your list.

Try Before You Buy

By now, you may have a pretty good idea of what kinds of jobs you’re looking for. But you can’t really know what it will be like to work in a given field until you’ve put in some time on the job.

There are a few options that can help you try on careers before you commit:

  • Online job simulations: Forage offers virtual work through free online job trials from 100-plus companies. Most take between five to seven hours to complete and lead to certificates that students can feature on their resumes as well as invitations to apply to open jobs.
  • Job shadowing: Once you’ve connected with a professional through an informational interview, consider asking about job shadowing. Follow your contact through their daily routine and get a sense of the job’s duties, responsibilities, and culture.
  • Internships: Not just for students, internships provide a chance to learn on the job while making connections with employers and building your resume.

Look For Low-Cost Learning 

Once you find your target career, you may need to upskill yourself to become a compelling candidate. Look for free or low-cost options like LinkedIn Learning, IBM SkillsBuild, edX, and Coursera.

Join The Break Community

The Best Career Resources

Building a career is a lifelong process. These resources can help:


Find your first job, plan a career pivot, or embark on a new business as an entrepreneur. CareerCloud offers how-to guides, reviews, podcasts, and other tools to help you build your career. Get expert guidance on resume writing services, free job posting sites, pre-employment assessments, free career assessments, and more.

The Break Podcast

Entrepreneur and work-life design expert Michael Gardon interviews everyday people who have dared to break their careers to design amazing lives.

Follow along as Mike and his guests dissect, demystify and highlight the many paths to owning your future. Whether you need a new job situation or you believe there's more you should be doing with your limited time on this earth - these stories are for you.

The UnBREAKable Community

As the pace of change accelerates and traditional career paths become less predictable — you need to adapt and flex with change instead of getting disrupted by it.

With the UnBREAKable Community, you get the resources, guidance, and confidence you need to pursue your passions, overcome obstacles, and create a fulfilling career on your terms.


CareerOneStop is the U.S. Department of Labor’s career portal offers free resources for job seekers. Take free self-assessments, explore training and apprenticeships, and learn more about different career paths. CareerOneStop has information geared toward entry-level workers, 55+ workers, job seekers with criminal convictions, and those with disabilities.

The Public Library

Many public libraries offer programs and assistance for job seekers including resume writing help, job preparedness workshops, partnerships with community colleges and local businesses, and more.

All public libraries offer free access to career-related books, as well as the expert guidance of librarians.

The Best Places To Find A Career


Search over 100 job sites, including ZipRecruiter’s propriety job board, with one click. ZipRecruiter’s AI matches candidates with open jobs and helps them apply quickly. The site is always free for job seekers. They also have the number one rated job search app on iOS and Android.

Read our review of ZipRecruiter.

Discover Your Dream Job

Find jobs near you and apply with 1 click! New jobs posted daily.

get started with ziprecruiter
ZipRecruiter logo


The largest job search site on the web serves over 250 million unique visitors each month and provides access to millions of job listings. Search for jobs, post your resume, and apply for free. Indeed also offers salary data, company reviews, and career advice.

Read our review of Indeed.


LinkedIn boasts over 830 million members in 200 countries around the world, providing unique reach to job seekers who want to connect with recruiters, hiring managers, and influencers in their industry.

Read our review of LinkedIn.

The Bottom Line

Now that you’re well on your way to choosing a career, it’s time to start looking at job opportunities in your new field. Look for jobs near you on ZipRecruiter today.