10 Questions to Ask Yourself as You Launch Your Career
Figure out what matters most to you—and go do it.
Your career launch is kind of like launching a rocket ship. It’s a big deal. You’re going somewhere a little unknown—and that’s exciting.
But what should you be thinking about as you do it? How will you know if you’re on the right track?
Don’t worry! I asked my friends at Career Hackers—and our friends at Praxis—what top questions they think are worth asking yourself as you launch your career. They came up with quite a few—and each are 100% worth taking a moment to ask yourself. They’ll help you figure out what matters most to you and give you a solid idea of the direction you should take.
So get out your favorite notepad or type up some notes on your phone-whatever’s your favorite. And get ready—you’re about to add some rocket fuel to your career launch.
1. What comes easy to me that doesn’t to most people?
It’s time to get honest. Try to think about hard and soft skills here (both can translate into something that helps you figure out which career path fits you best).
Some ideas to get you started:
Maybe you’ve always been fast at replying to emails.
Maybe you’ve got a knack for math or grammar or designing something visually appealing.
Maybe you’re good at filming videos or building online followings or answering phone calls.
Maybe you’re the one who always organizes outings with your friends, or you always find a way of getting people to feel good about themselves.
Maybe you pick up new skills faster than anyone you know.
What comes easily to you? The answer just might help you narrow down your career options and help you get started in choosing the right path.
2. How do I want to grow, and where do I need to look to find positions that will help me grow in that way?
Knowing where you’d like to strengthen your skillset is a huge step in launching your career in the right direction.
Mitchell Earl, the COO at Praxis, has developed his career by focusing on skill growth instead of titles. That’s a fantastic way to think about what type of position would be best for your growth—because ultimately, a job title won’t teach you much.
But the skills you learn while under a job title—like Sales Development Representative or Customer Success Advocate—will take you farther than you thought possible.
3. What’s the best use of my next six to twenty-four months?
This is a question our founder, Isaac Morehouse, especially encourages young people to ask themselves. It’s really easy to think about the long-term goals of your career—but that also makes us quick to gloss over the things we need to do next to get there.
You don’t have to have it all figured out right now—no one does. But see if you can get a few “best use of my time for the next two years” options down on paper. You could even ask a trusted friend a few years ahead of you in their career what they think the answer is for you.
But your answer to this question can help you narrow down options, and you can start to figure out what steps to take to get to where you want to go.
4. What can I get paid to learn?
This is a fun one. It forces you to think outside the box—and about what you actually want to learn as you start your career.
The cool thing is, entry-level jobs, especially at startups, give you the opportunity to 1) get paid, and 2) learn a lot of skills really fast. You get to learn on the job, handle responsibilities, and you get a paycheck doing it.
Yes, you could take a class or an online course to learn something. But pitching yourself to a company and winning an entry-level job so you can learn—and get paid for it—is so much better.
What can you get paid to learn?
5. How much money on a monthly basis do I need to survive?
This number might be way smaller than you think.
But think about it: what could you cut out so you can develop your skills so you can get paid more down the road? What do you really need to survive for the next year or two?
Be honest with yourself. How much money do you need to be making right now? You might come across a great opportunity that pays less but gives you more room for growth—sometimes the best choice for your career launch is to take that opportunity.
6. What can I do that people are willing to pay money for?
What skills do you have that have value in the marketplace right now?
Maybe you’re a whiz at math or you’ve been making writing a habit or you’ve grown a nice social media following. Maybe you’ve made your own website with code or no-code tools.
People will pay money for those skills! Once you know what skills people will pay you for, start showing them publicly. Incredible opportunities can come from it.
P.S. If you don’t yet have a skill you think people will pay you for, I encourage you to go learn one! Start with something that seems fun—maybe a software tool—then go from there. Check out the CH career guides to get an idea of what a few specific entry-level positions use when it comes to software tools.
7. Where are my skills most highly valued?
This one might take some Googling, but once you’ve figured out what comes easy to you and which skills you have (or are building) that are valued on the market, it’s time to figure out which cities, industries, roles, etc. need and hire the talent you’re bringing to the table.
The good news is there are awesome companies hiring right now all over the world.
Don’t be afraid to move, and maybe look into an area of the business world you haven’t yet thought of—certain companies and business spaces might need your skillset most.
8. What are the three things I care about most in the next twenty-four months?
These three things could be anything.
Maybe you want to work at a company or in an area that is experiencing a lot of growth. Maybe there’s a skillset you want above anything else. Maybe you want to learn from people in a certain space or travel or get a really nice salary.
Try to get concrete. Knowing those three things will help make some other career choices really clear.
9. How many opportunities can I say “yes” to?
One of the best things you can do when you’re early on in your career is to accept as many opportunities as you can.
Not long before I started working in marketing, I took a media and communications internship in a new state for three months. It wasn’t exactly a marketing opportunity, but the skills I gained during those three months have helped me become a better marketer, and I’ve been able to jump in on other projects I wouldn’t have been able to really do before.
Saying, “Yes, I’ll do it!” to as many opportunities as you can while you’re launching your career will be one of the biggest factors in your growth. You’ll build transferrable skills, gain a better understanding of how different business processes work, and you’ll level up your abilities.
Plus, saying “yes” to opportunities will help you figure out what you like, what you don’t like, and what you’re really good at!
10. What am I willing to fail at because it’s so interesting to me?
This one honestly sounds risky to ask yourself—fail?
But this is my favorite on the list. And here’s why:
Ultimately, creating a career you love is about doing the thing that makes you come alive.
Being willing to take an opportunity that doesn’t pay as much—or maybe an opportunity at a fast-growing startup that is still in its earliest stages—just so you can try to get closer to doing the thing you’re most interested in can be a really good step toward doing what makes you come alive.
Figure out that thing. What makes you so interested you’d be okay with failing while trying to do it? The answer will reveal what creates genuine excitement in you (awesome), and it’ll help you decide which opportunities you should say “yes” to, where you should go next, and, in the end, what career is the best career for you.
Now it’s your turn!
I encourage you to ask yourself these ten questions. Spend some time figuring out if you’re going the direction you want to be going—and if there’s a course change you want to make, don’t be afraid to adjust.
Remember: the future of your career belongs to you. You don’t have to wait around for people to show you the right path-the best careers are launched through experimentation (while having some fun).
Go out there and create a career that makes you come alive!
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