How to choose a career: 5 steps to figure out your next career decision

How to choose a career: 5 steps to figure out your next career decision
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 28 June, 2024

Choosing a career is a big decision. It's not only a choice that will impact your happiness and fulfilment, but also your financial stability. That's why it's important to make an informed decision.  

However, choosing a career can be difficult due to the many changing factors in your life. Your unique talents, interests, values, and long-term goals are the basis for any career decision. You must align your these with the demands of the job market. This will help you choose a career that offers you the greatest opportunity for growth and long-term job satisfaction. 

In vibrant and diverse economies like Malaysia, making the right career decision can be difficult. There are so many career paths to choose from. But with some self-reflection, exploration, and decision-making, you can find the right career opportunities.  

In this guide, we'll give you the knowledge and tools you need to make the right choice. We'll look at your interests, skills, values, and long-term goals. Then we'll help you explore industries and sectors and learn how you can connect with professionals and career counsellors.  

Our goal is to give you the knowledge and the tools you need to get a career that matters to you, that will not only last but you’ll love as well. So, let’s get started! 

How to choose a career

Career planning template for jobseekers

Final thoughts


How to choose a career 

Step 1: Do a self-evaluation 

Before thinking about potential career paths, you need to get to know yourself. This means identifying your likes and dislikes, skills, values, and personality. You should also consider what you want in a career. 

There are many ways to get to know yourself better. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:  

  • Interest-based questions:  
    ⁠-What do you enjoy doing?  
    ⁠-How do you like to spend your time?  
    ⁠-What do you enjoy learning about?  
    ⁠-Do you enjoy working with teams or alone?  
    ⁠-Do you enjoy working inside or outside?  
    ⁠-What do you enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis?  
  • Value-based questions:  
    ⁠-What’s important in your life?  
    ⁠-What are your priorities?  
    ⁠-What meaning do you find in life?  

  • Character questions  
    ⁠-What is success to you?  
    ⁠-What do you want more of?  
    ⁠-What are you good at?  
    ⁠-Which skills are you proud of?  

An objective way to learn more about yourself is through self-assessment tests. These tests are designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, values, and things you find important.  

For instance, this free career development test can help you figure out what’s next in your career journey. The quiz can help you determine whether you should stay at your current job or look for new opportunities. 

Another way is to talk to the people who know you best – your friends and family members. They can give you a different perspective on what you are good at. 

Step 2: Reflect on what motivates you 

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Reflecting on what you value is crucial in choosing the right career path. 

Start by thinking about what you love doing. What are your hobbies and passions outside the 9-to-5? These can be clues to what kind of career possibilities would make you happy. Next, take a look at your skills and strengths. What are you good at? What do you do that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world? 

The next piece of the puzzle is your values. What makes you tick? Is it career development or work-life balance? What are the guiding principles that steer your decisions and actions? When you know what truly matters to you, you can weave those values into your career path. Finding a job that aligns with your values can make a huge difference in how satisfied and fulfilled you feel. 

Then, picture your ideal work environment. Are you at your best when things move quickly, or do you prefer a more predictable setting? Think about your style and what you like, and look for careers that will let you work in ways you find most comfortable and rewarding. 

Step 3: Think about your long-term goals 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Or in 10? Choosing potential career paths is like setting out on a road trip – you've got to have a destination in mind. Your life's purpose and values are your compass. And, let's be real, your financial goals matter, too. What kind of paycheck will let you breathe easy? What lifestyle do you dream of? 

Remember, your career goals are allowed to shift. That's part of the journey. As you grow and learn, new goals and passions might emerge. Be open to change and be ready to pivot if needed. 

Step 4: Explore different industries and sectors 

Career exploration is like trying on different hats until you find the one that fits just right. To make the right call, you've got to do your homework – suss out what each one needs and what it can offer you. 

Shortlist the industries and sectors that match your interests, skills, and competencies. Evaluate these industries based on their job descriptions. Does the work environment sound like a good fit for you? Are the tasks and competencies required something you can do? Is it something you are interested in? Is there room for growth?  

Another tip is to attend industry events, webinars, and conferences. This will allow you to network with people who can give you the inside scoop on what's happening in the industry. 

And don't be afraid to dip your toes in different waters! Internships and part-time jobs in various industries are a good way to explore different careers. These can give you firsthand experience of a company’s work culture and environment, beef up your resume, develop new skills, and help you figure out what suits you best.  

Step 5: Speak to professionals and career counsellors 

A great way to get a feel for different industries is by setting up an informational interview. These are casual chats with professionals in the field you're interested in. You can ask them about their job, the industry, and what skills they think are important. You'd be surprised how many people are willing to share their experiences with you.  

You can also seek guidance from career counsellors. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share and can provide insights you may not have considered.  

Here are a few tips for finding and getting the most out of your informational interviews with professionals and career counsellors: 

1. Do your research 

You can reach out to anyone in a company or industry you're interested in. It's helpful to look for those in a similar position to the one you’re eyeing. You could connect with future peers or former employees to learn about their experiences. Check out their LinkedIn profiles, read their blog posts, or watch their videos. The more you know about them, the better you can tailor your approach. 

A young woman, her head wrapped in a colourful hijab, is sitting at a coffee shop table, engrossed in her phone. 

2. Reach out 

Figure out the best way to reach out to the person you want to interview. Perhaps you know someone working at the company. Or maybe their contact details are publicly available online. Otherwise, you can reach out through social media platforms like LinkedIn.  

Here’s an example of a message to maximise the odds of getting a response:  

Hi [name], 

My name is [name], and I am interested in pursuing a career path in [name of company, industry, or field]. In researching potential employers, I discovered your work and am very interested in learning more. Would you be willing to have a brief conversation with me about your experience working at [name of company, industry, or field] in the next couple of weeks? It will only take 15 minutes of your time.  

If you’re open, I can schedule a call through [platform of choice].  

Thank you for considering! 


3. Prepare your questions 

Jot down a few questions you’d like to ask the professional or career counsellor you'll speak with. You don’t need to be strict about sticking to this list. It should just give you an idea of the kind of information you want to get out of this interview.  

Here are some examples of questions you can ask:  

  • What's the best part of what you do? 
  • What are the career development options in your field? 
  • What skills and qualifications are necessary for success in this field? 
  • What's the job market like in your industry? 
  • What advice would you give to someone considering a certain career path in your field? 

4. Follow-up 

After you've had those meaningful conversations, a quick thank-you note goes a long way. It's a sign of respect for their time and wisdom, and who knows – it might open the door to more networking or mentorship opportunities. 

Career planning template for jobseekers 

Career planning is your blueprint for success. Ideally, you should set goals for the short-, medium-, and long-term. Your goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance: Landing an internship at your dream design agency within the next year.  

Here is a template for planning your career path:  

Here is a template for planning your career:  

Short-term goal 


Action steps:  

Start date: 

End date:  

For a more detailed career planner, you can refer to our career planner

A young man and woman are sitting on a sofa, peering at a laptop. He's wearing glasses, and she's holding a notebook. They're both beaming. 

By mapping out your path through SMART goals, you're being strategic about how your career plays out. And remember, when you are faced with the question of how to choose a career, your career path isn't set in stone – it's something you'll want to revisit and tweak as you grow and change. 

Final thoughts 

Remember: Choosing a career is a journey. It's about learning who you are and what you want. It's about looking at your interests, skills, values, and goals and being intentional about where your career is headed.  

If you're unhappy with your current career path, it's okay to change it up. The key is to keep learning and growing, stay open to new things, and find work that lights you up. Do your homework, talk to people, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Good luck with your job search — you've got this! 


  1. How do I decide what career path I want? 
    ⁠There are so many careers to choose from – how do you pick the right career path for you? Well, it all starts with self-evaluation. Learning more about yourself – your likes, dislikes, skills, values, and personality traits – can help you determine what you want in a career. Consider your motivations and long-term goals, and don't be afraid to explore different industries and sectors to learn what might be a good match.  
  2. How do I find the perfect career choice?  
    ⁠Research and experimentation. Learn more about yourself and your career options, or try it out firsthand! There’s only so much you can learn from research and interviews alone. Sometimes, the best way to learn about what you want is to try it out.  
  3. What are the 5 steps for choosing your career?  
    ⁠The 5 steps to choosing a career are: conducting a self-evaluation, reflecting on what motivates you, thinking about your long-term goals, exploring different industries and sectors, and speaking to professionals or career counsellors.  
  4. What are the best tools and career quizzes to help me choose a career?  
    ⁠SEEK’s free career planner template can help you map out your skills, interests, values, and long-term goals. You can also develop a career plan from scratch using this guide
  5. How can I discover my true passions and interests?  
    ⁠Through self-evaluation and experimentation. Ask yourself what your hobbies and passions are outside of your job – that could give you a clue as to what motivates and interests you. Firsthand job experience is also useful for figuring out what you truly like and don’t like.  
  6. What strategies can I use to assess my strengths and weaknesses concerning career planning?  
    ⁠Ask yourself questions based on your interests, values, and traits. This includes questions like: What do you enjoy doing? What are your priorities in life? What is success to you? You can also use free self-assessment tests or online tools and online resources, like SEEK’s free career planner template, to get to know yourself better. 
  7. How do I research and identify growing industries and job trends? 
    ⁠One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on growing job trends is by surrounding yourself with people from that industry. Joining networking events and speaking to like-minded people can give you an insider’s perspective into what’s going on in the field. You can also subscribe to relevant content platforms, like podcasts, publications, and news sites.  

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