If you’re at a crossroads in your life and want to quit your current job to find the right career, the process of doing so can be as exciting as it is daunting. Where do you start? How do you know what the right career is? What sort of environment would you thrive in? There’s a lot to consider and the decision you make can impact every aspect of your life.

The mind first goes to salary — you want a career that pays you what you believe you’re worth. But then there’s the lifestyle, as you might want a better work-life balance. You want to work in a company where you fit in with the culture, an organization where your personality can thrive and, ultimately, something you’re genuinely interested in. These factors can influence your choice, stopping you from settling for any ordinary career and instead opting for the right one.

Feeling disengaged in your current role will impact your happiness, health, success and wellbeing. You deserve better than feeling frustrated, depressed, anxious or burned out thinking about your next day at work. To help you make a serious change and do more meaningful work that you enjoy, here’s our essential guide to finding the right career.

Self-reflection

Make sure you know what you really want

To find the right career, do you know what it is you actually want from a career? If you’re casually searching for a job with little luck, chances are you’re in a position where you don’t know the kind of career you want next. That’s when the frustrations begin, as you find jobs that aren’t what you want to see. This circle will continue and, eventually, you’ll give up the search and stay in a career that makes you unhappy.

So, rather than blindly hitting apply on any job you find, write down what it is you want in your next job. Highlight your strengths, weaknesses, what you want from a company, teammates and titles you’d want. Doing this will separate the average carer options to more serious ones, helping you determine what the right career will look like.

Take a career assessment test

A lot of pieces need to come together so you can understand who you are as a person. If you’re struggling to piece it all together, including everything from your talents to interests, you can complete a career assessment test to help you uncover your true traits and talents. These assessments are fantastic if you struggle to look past your subjective thoughts as to what you want to do with your life.

A career assessment will dive deeper into who you are as a person, your personality and abilities to help you decide which roles you’d be best suited for, what to avoid and also the types of environment you’d thrive in. You never know, you might find options you had never considered before, only to realize that deep down, it’s a genuine passion you were yet to uncover.

Take a personality test

Whether or not a particular career is the right one for you can depend on your personality. If you choose a career that you don’t end up being a good fit for, then it can impact your happiness. To be in with the best chance of finding the right career, complete a personality test. It’s arguably one of the best ways to find out more about yourself and unpeel layers you didn’t know existed.

By completing a personality test, you’ll become self-aware and will find answers to certain questions you could never answer before. By doing this, some personality assessments will reveal the types of careers and environments you could thrive in.

For example, it might highlight that you’re an introvert and suggest that engineering, writing, software development or even an accountant are the best careers for introverted people. If you’re in the early stages of trying to find the right career, a personality test can help you identify where you’d excel.

What are your must-haves?

When trying to find the right career, you shouldn’t feel as though you have to settle. Spend some time identifying what would be a deal-breaker in your next role. It could be anything from your salary and benefits to location or a hybrid working solution. Here are some questions you should honestly answer before starting your job search:

  • What’s the minimum salary you would accept?
  • What benefits do you need? This can include healthcare coverage, time off and more
  • Would you accept a job that would require you to travel?
  • Do you want a flexible working option?
  • Is there a particular job title or seniority level you want?
  • Are there specific tasks you don’t want to undertake?
  • Is there a work environment you don’t want to work in?

Answering these questions will make the job search more efficient, as you won’t have to read through disappointing job adverts and waste further time. Once you know your deal-breakers, you can sift through the jobs that wouldn’t work for you.

What lifestyle do you want?

Lifestyle was always an afterthought in the past. As the world has evolved, no thanks to the COVID-10 pandemic, so has the importance of lifestyle, including different schedules, locations, working spaces and dynamics.

Before you begin the search to find the right career, consider the type of lifestyle you want regarding what your day-to-day will look like. Do you want the traditional 9-5 in the office? Or do you want something a little more flexible where you can work where you want and when you want? 

Your lifestyle can stretch beyond these choices, too. There’s the outdoors vs indoors aspect and whether you like working alone or as part of a collaborative team. These factors can influence how you feel about your job. If you’re taken your lifestyle into account, it’s more likely you’ll be satisfied in your career.

Work with a mentor

It’s sometimes difficult to find the right career on your own, including taking the plunge, to begin with, as there’s often a fear of rocking the boat of where you currently work. However, to have a better chance of succeeding in your new career, you should learn from the best. That’s where mentors come in. In fact, 80% of CEOs boil their success down to working with mentors.

There are plenty of mentors you could work with, both paid and unpaid. By choosing the right mentor, you’ll get unrivaled guidance that will boost your career. 

Finding the right career

List the jobs you want to explore

Once you understand more about yourself, it’s time to start finding the right career that sounds desirable to you. The issue today is that many companies use unique job titles, which might be called something in another business. If you come across a peculiar job title, save it and return to it later, as it could be an exciting route to take. 

However, don’t limit your search to the job title. Make sure to analyze the description for each job before it makes your list. To help you formulate a list of potential jobs, here are some steps to follow:

  • Utilize your network: If you’re on LinkedIn with connections that sound like they have compelling jobs, explore your network more in case they can help you get a foot in the door.
  • Search for exciting industries: Is there an industry that you seem drawn to? It could be anything creative or scientific — find people currently working in these industries and ask about potentially attractive jobs they know of.
  • What do you enjoy?: It could be specific tasks or what a typical working day looks like. Whatever you decide you enjoy the most and is something you’d love to do daily, write down any career that could involve doing this type of work.
  • What do you value? Take some time to think about where you see your life going in the next five to 10 years. Are there any goals you want to achieve or milestones you want to hit? What about your location — do you want to work in a different country or enjoy a different lifestyle? Think about the future and how your next career can help you get there.
  • Evaluate your strengths: This is always difficult as we tend to think of our weaknesses first, but what are you good at? Try and make a list of soft and hard skills, along with stuff you enjoy that will help you succeed. When you have a list of your skills, write down careers that benefit from having your combination of skills.

Look in more than one place

Although platforms like Indeed and Monster are great starting points to find a whole host of careers, they shouldn’t be the only places where you look. Don’t rely on the most well-known job boards as it isn’t always a guarantee that these are the areas you’ll find the right career. Hundreds of thousands of people will have the same idea, so do more digging to find a role that sounds compelling.

To have a better chance of finding the right career at the organization you really want to work at, either browse their social channels and website — in case they aren’t advertised anywhere else — and also specialist boards. These are the ones where, if you’re a developer, for example, you’d only find jobs related to development. Wherever you can find a niche option, search there first.

Research companies and careers to narrow down your list

Once you have your list of job titles that seem interesting, begin researching them before applying. Spend some time on each one, so your list becomes even shorter. This aims to whittle your career options down to two or three serious career paths that genuinely excite you. Here’s a research process you can follow for each job.

  • Day in the life: To identify whether a career could be right for you, try to dig into what the day-to-day of the job will look like. There are several ways to do this — some job descriptions will outline this; you could search for blogs or video content running through a day in the life of the position and also reach out to people currently working in the role who can explain what it involves.
  • Salary: The salary can differ from job to job and industry to industry. In the next step of your research phase, learn about the average salary across the jobs you’ve found. There are plenty of salary comparison tools online where you can see the trends in different locations. If there are jobs where the salary doesn’t match your expectations, you can remove them from your list.
  • Requirements: Certifications? Degrees? Training? Different careers, industries and organizations have different requirements or credentials you’ll need if you’re to make the cut. While researching, you might realize that it isn’t worth your time completing some of the objectives so you can switch to more suitable alternatives. Or, it might make you realize that all careers in your chosen industry require something similar, so it’ll give you insight into what you need to do before applying.
  • Can you grow?: Finding the right career doesn’t mean you need to settle for something stagnant. Despite the career change, you still want to know there are growth opportunities. When researching the roles, read descriptions to learn about the requirements and what you could possibly achieve over time as you take on more responsibilities.

Tweaking your resume

Once you identify what you want in your career, the environment in which you’ll thrive and you have a shortlist of exciting jobs you wish to apply to; it’s now time to tweak your resume to get it noticed.

What to put on your resume

To successfully land the job of your dreams, you need to first tweak your current resume so the right eyes land on it before calling you in for an interview. Where most people fall short when trying to find the right career is by bulking out their resume with every tiny detail. As difficult as it is, you need to be cutthroat when it comes to creating your resume. If it isn’t directly relevant or related to the position you’re applying for, then cut it out.

Here, prioritize what needs to go on your resume to keep the readers engaged. Here’s what you should include in your resume:

  • Contact information: This is obvious, but the reader needs to know how to contact you, especially if they loved your resume and want to reach out. Keep this simple and clean by only including information such as your name, address, email address, phone number, LinkedIn and social media handles and your website address.
  • Resume statement: Next, add a resume statement underneath your contact information. This should be a brief paragraph tailored to the position you want. You could also replace it with a summary statement, which is a short statement rattling through your skills, experience and qualifications.
  • Employment history: When listing your employment history, only add the most valuable ones that relate directly to the position you’re applying to. Add the job title, the company name, location, date of employment, responsibilities and your achievements. Repeat the same format and keep it concise.
  • Skills: To find the right career successfully, don’t list every single skill. Employers want to see the skills that will work in the position they’re advertising, where you used the skills, how recently and the impact your skills had. Soft skills might not matter as much but go into more depth in your skills in your cover letter rather than your resume.
  • Education: Be strategic with your education history. If you have a degree, you probably don’t need to list what else you achieved in school academically. If you do have a degree or some form of education to list, highlight what you majored in, the name of your school, its location and then any extras, such as projects, awards, honors and scholarships.
  • Awards and achievements: If you have won awards or have some accomplishments you’re proud of, add them to your resume. Whether it’s volunteer work, languages you speak, memberships you have or certifications you’ve completed, these can all tie your resume together.
  • References: In your resume, dedicate one section to references. It’s a straightforward section, as you just need to list the people you can rely on who can vouch for you with a positive recommendation if they’re contacted. Make sure to include their name, position and contact details.
  • Testimonials: A testimonial can also help you find the right career as it proves to employers that you have the experience and skills you’ve stated. One or two testimonials will be enough here.

Words to remove from your resume

Another way to tweak your resume to find the right career is to remove certain words or phrases from your resume. There are many words recruiters and interviewers dislike, which can be enough to ignore your resume entirely. When you revisit your resume, replace underwhelming phrases with powerful alternatives to help you land the role you deserve.

An excellent way to begin is by scanning through other job adverts similar to the one you’re applying for so you can see the types of words they use. Note down the phrases you spot the most, then add them to your resume. By doing this, you can successfully get past applicant tracking systems (ATS), too.

  • Replace hard worker with achieved.
  • Replace helped with coached.
  • Replace think outside of the box with conceptualized.
  • Replace synergy with collaboration.
  • Replace accomplished with proficient.

Certifications to complete to add to your resume

When researching jobs and the right career to pursue, always keep one eye on the certifications required. There’s a good chance some jobs might require you to have some expertise in a particular area, so completing a certification and adding it to your resume can help you not only find the right career but also land the role, too.

Doing this will also help you get noticed as it shows you have the skills and experience needed for the position, plus it’s the validation you need. Here are some you can get started with right away that interviewers tend to like.

  • HubSpot inbound marketing
  • Code Camp
  • Codeacademy
  • Google Analytics Academy
  • Udemy web design courses
  • Project Management Profesisona
  • LinkedIn Learning certification courses

While it’s a good idea to get well-versed in all of them, don’t neglect any role-specific certifications that will leave you with a better chance of succeeding in the right career. For example, if you’re a developer, hone in on developer courses rather than project management, for instance.

Make your resume ATS-friendly

The big difference when trying to find the right career today is that the way you apply for a job has changed. Now, computers tend to do the heavy lifting by deciding which applications fit the bill and which don’t need to reach an interviewer’s desk using an ATS. So, you need to create an ATS-friendly resume.

This is a resume that’s formatted correctly and features enough keywords to beat the bot’s algorithm, ensuring only the best make it into an employer’s hands. Before you begin applying for jobs, give yourself the best chance of finding the right career by making your resume ATS-friendly. But how do you go about doing that?

  • Choose the suitable format: A PDF resume isn’t ATS-friendly. Although it can vary between software, your best bet is to create your resume in a .docx or .doc Word file. The last thing you want is the format to hinder your chances of finding the right career.
  • Don’t add important information in the header and footer: An ATS has its limits and will make mistakes. One of these errors is an ATS can’t always recognize text in a header or footer. Any essential details you usually place there, have them outside of these areas to get past an ATS.
  • Don’t focus on aesthetics: As good as graphs and images are to help tell a story; an ATS can’t always read them. If it’s important, write it out in your resume.
  • Use bullet points: An ATS can read bullet points without any issues. Keep them simple and if a big section can work better as a bullet list, make the switch.
  • IMplement a clear hierarchy and design: Don’t put a significant focus on the design. If it’s complex, it can throw an ATS off. Plus, the design isn’t what will help you find the right career unless you’re aiming for a design role.
  • Search and implement keywords: The way an ATS decides which applications are worthy of being read is based on the number of keywords used. First, search job listings to see any phrases you notice popping up repeatedly. Then naturally scatter the keywords throughout your resume. Don’t go overboard that it reads unnaturally, but enough to get past an ATS.
  • Customize your resume: Don’t use one resume for multiple jobs as an ATS will never automatically approve yours for every single role. Create a new, custom resume tailored to each job with new keywords to get your resume in the hands of an interviewer.
  • Test, test and test again: Once you’ve finished creating your ATS-friendly resume, use an online website to test if it would pass the tests. If you do, you can start using it to apply for jobs.

By following these tips, you’ll transform your resume into an ATS-friendly one and be in with a better chance of finding the right career.

Customize your cover letter

While every resume should be tailored to each job, so should your cover letter. The overarching template itself can largely remain the same; the specifics should cater to each company so it’s clear what role you’re applying for and the skills will be unique to each one. In the cover letter, you should also aim to cover certain scenarios or questions to help support your potential interview.

For example, you can highlight any challenging work situations you’ve been in and how you overcame them. You can showcase your passions, growth and anything else you feel will be of value to support your resume.

Know when to apply when not to apply

Although there isn’t an exact month or time to find a job, some trends suggest when the best times are to find the right career. To avoid the frustrations that come with the never-ending job-hunting process and to be in with a better chance of finding the right career, here’s when you should and shouldn’t find a new position.

  • Look for a new role at the start of the year: This is after the holiday season and is also when companies have big growth plans, so they need to bring in the talent. These adverts will get published a few months in advance to work in line with company budgets. Companies are also aware that people have New Year’s resolutions, so it’s the most popular time to job hunt.
  • Search early in the week and in the mornings: Monday’s and Tuesday’s tend to be the best days to find a new job as it’s when recruiters are most active. This gives them a broader window to collate resumes, so submit yours between 11 am and 2 pm.
  • When to avoid finding the right career: The holiday season is the worst to start finding your right career. With vacations and winding down for the year, there won’t be many vacancies available.

Find the right career: Submit your application

The last thing left to do is submit your application. By completing the steps above, you’ll have a relevant list of exciting roles and an ATS-friendly resume ready to demand attention. Depending on the number of positions you’re applying for, it can be a good idea to build yourself a simple Excel tracker to know the jobs you applied for, the resumes and cover letters you submitted, when you submitted your application and interview details.

By doing this, you’ll know how much time has passed and when you should chase up with companies. However, rather than constantly waiting for employers to contact you, why not set yourself up for an even better chance so employers can find you instead?

That’s where signing up to VanHack can help.

Why VanHack?

VanHack is a platform designed to help you find the right career and the perfect role wherever you’re based in the world. In Canada and throughout Europe, more than 1,000 technology professionals have already found their perfect jobs worldwide, perfect if you want to work remotely and won’t plan to relocate.

That’s because the majority of our jobs sponsor work permits and relocation. So, once you’re hired, we’ll help you with the entire visa and relocation process, so you’re never going at it alone.

The best part? It’s free for job seekers like you. You’ll never have to pay us to get a job or to relocate to a new country. Absolutely no fees whatsoever. We’ll also do more than simply get you noticed. We’ll help prepare you for the selection process with mock interviews, ensuring you land the right career position you want.

How does it work?

Getting up and running and finding a job on VanHack is straightforward, just how we designed it to be.

  • Create a profile that works: Start by signing up and creating your profile. Next, all you need to do is record a few quick, snappy videos so you can let companies get to know the real you — the person behind the profile. You can then show off your potential further by completing their code challenges. The more you complete your profile, the likelier you will land the interview and the eventual job.
  • Apply for jobs and attend hiring events: After you’re completed your profile, then comes the exciting part — finding the right position. You can use our job board to apply for jobs, but we offer much more than that. At VanHack, we also host plenty of live and virtual hiring events for you to participate in.
  • Get prepared and secure the role: We’ll constantly send profiles to our partner companies using our advanced AI algorithm and our talented team of recruiters. It’s only a matter of time before an organization selects you for an interview, before our interview advisor specialist steps in to work with you to get you fully prepared. With mock interviews and vital information, you’ll have exactly what you need ahead of the interview.
  • Relocation, work remotely or enjoy the best of both worlds: Most of our jobs sponsor work permits and relocation. However, if you want to stay put and are comfortable with your lifestyle, we also have many remote-only options. If you do want a change of scenery and want to move for your career, our dedicated team is on hand to help you through every step of the relocation and visa process.

finding the right career

Jobs available through VanHack

At VanHack, we specialise in connecting software engineers and developers with job opportunities throughout North America and Europe. Some of the world’s biggest brands trust us to help them find the best talent, so take a look at the types of careers currently available on our platform.

React jobs

Front End Developer

Kitchener – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

$80,000-$120,000 CAD

Frontend Engineer

Toronto – Canada

Fully remote

Salary undisclosed

Fullstack Developer

Toronto – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

Up to $90,000 CAD

Software Development Manager

Toronto – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

$110,000-$120,000 CAD

Senior Frontend Engineer/Architect (SaaS)

Ghent, Belgium

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

Salary undisclosed

To see the most up-to-date list of all React vacancies, click here.

Full stack jobs

Development Team Lead

Chicago – USA

Fully remote

$60,000-$90,000 USD

Intermediate Web Developer

Toronto – Canada

Fully remote

Up to $70,000 CAD

Senior Javascript Engineer

Berlin – Germany

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

€60,000-€90,000 EUR

Senior Full Stack Engineer (React/Node.js)

Calgary – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

$80,000-$100,000 CAD

Full Stack Developer

Toronto – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

Up to $90,000 CAD

To check out the most up-to-date list of all full stack jobs on the VanHack platform, click here.

DevOps jobs

DevOps Engineer

Toronto – Canada

Fully remote

$90,000-$110,000 CAD

Site Reliability Engineer

Montreal – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

Up to $100,000 CAD

Senior Python Developer

Tashkent – Uzbekistan

Fully remote

$60,000-$70,000 USD

Cloud Engineer

Toronto – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

$90,000-$120,000 CAD

Infrastructure Engineer (DevOps/SRE)

Toronto – Canada

Remote then relocate (sponsored visa)

$80,000-$110,000 CAD

For the most up-to-date list of all DevOps careers on VanHack, follow this link.

With over 600 companies trusting VanHack to find the best candidates, you can be sure our platform will help you find the right career. Try it for yourself today.

Our Premium Academy is another platform where you can join weekly live classes with global instructors and talent to make an impact in your next interview. If you want to join the Academy and stand out from the crowd, click here.

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