How to Answer the Question, “What Should I Do With My Life?”

Finding a job can be hard. Finding a job when you’re not exactly sure what kind of job you want can be really, really hard.

Perhaps you’ve recently graduated, you’ve been laid off from a shrinking industry or you just have a sense that you might be happier in a different career.

If you find yourself asking, “What should I do with my life?” this summer, I recommend this 3-step strategy for using LinkedIn to research your career options:

1. Brainstorm a big list of career options. Even if you’re really unsure of your career direction, I guarantee you have some ideas of what path or paths you want to pursue. Start collecting these ideas — job titles, potential employers, hobbies, interests that might become a career, anything — into a big list.

Ask a few trusted friends or colleagues what they think you’re good at and what jobs they think you should pursue, and add these to your list. Reach out to your alma mater’s career services office and ask if they have a career assessment test you can take, then add these results to your list as well. It doesn’t matter if the items on your list are wildly different — e.g., writing, Italy, Google, personal trainer.

Just come up with the biggest list you can and keep adding to it as you follow the steps below.

2. Research, research, research. Next, take your big list of career options and start typing each idea into LinkedIn’s Advanced Search. Just see what you find and keep following links that interest you.

For instance, let’s start with “writing.”  You know you love writing and would like to consider it as part of your career, but you’re not sure what kinds of jobs exist, where they are and what kind of experience you need to get those jobs. Just type the word “writing” into the “keywords” box in LinkedIn’s Advanced Search tool and you’ll generate a listing of anyone on LinkedIn who has the word “writing” in his or her LinkedIn profile. Start to click on profiles that interest you and look for…

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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