Now that you’ve spent some time eliminating occupations from your Roster using career interestsskills and abilities,  work valuesMyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality, education/training, and family/cultural expectations, let’s cover some remaining Roster narrowing tips.

At this point, you’ve learned about all of the main criteria I recommend for narrowing your Roster.  You’ve also learned about the strategies and resources you can use to obtain more detailed information about occupations such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook and Informational Interviews.  We combine our knowledge of ourselves related to the criteria, with knowledge about specific occupations gotten from the strategies/resources, to inform our process of elimination.

Your goal is to narrow your Roster as much as you feel comfortable with at this point in your life.  Some people will be able to confidently narrow their Roster down to one best-fitting occupation.  Many people will be able to narrow their Roster down to a small group of best-fitting occupations.  Get as far as you can and try not to be hard on yourself if you can’t get it narrowed as much as you would like.  Remember, sometimes our preferences change and best-fitting occupations we identified in our 20’s may change later in our lives.  You are not chained to occupations remaining on your Roster; you can always add new occupations to your Roster if circumstances change later in life.

If you haven’t been able to narrow your Roster that much, there can be many reasons for that.  Each reason calls for a different kind of response.  Here’s some common reasons and my advice for how to respond in each situation:

  • Like I mentioned when talking about classifying your types, sometimes you just need additional career experiences to help you further develop your career likes and dislikes, discover your abilities, and clarify your work values.  This is common for people in high school and the early years of college, sometimes even beyond that.  In fact, our interests can evolve later in life, which sometimes requires a re-evaluation of our chosen occupation.  If you perceive that you won’t be able to further narrow your Roster until you have additional career experiences, then take some notes to summarize your career exploration journey thus far, and go out there and pursue those additional career experiences!  Pick back up with the SCEA where you left off when you perceive that you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about your career preferences.  Sometimes taking a break from career exploration can feel difficult.  Important people in your life, your educational timeline, or your own self-expectations may be putting pressure on you to “make a decision now!” Sometimes that pressure is unreasonable and can be addressed in healthy ways. Other times, your circumstances will make it necessary to make some initial career decisions at this time.  You can always make decisions and then revisit them, when possible, to adjust your career trajectory.  The great thing about taking the SCEA is that you will likely have narrowed your Roster somewhat and thus you can use the occupations left on your list to guide what specific additional career experiences you pursue.  You can be more efficient with your efforts.  Some people even find that they have to start, pause, restart, pause, and restart the SCEA process as they grow older and wiser.  With persistence and experience, I’m confident you will eventually arrive a place where you can narrow your Roster further than you have in the past.
  • You may genuinely have a wide variety of occupations that are equally good fits. If this is truly the case, then you can pick one of the remaining occupations on your Roster and pursue it.  And if you find that your hunches were wrong and one of the other occupations on your Roster is actually seeming like a new best fit, then you can adjust your career path towards that new occupation.  It is not uncommon for several occupations to have similar fits, but the degree of fit for each occupation differs slightly.  For example, you may be equally interested in Medical Physician and Counseling Psychology, your skills and talents may be slightly better aligned with Medical Physician, but your work values may be slightly better aligned with Counseling Psychology.  Thus, when you “average” all of the criteria together, the two occupations may be similar fits.  In a situation like this, you can reflect on which of these criteria is most important to you (for me, my values tend to outweigh my skills), and choose an occupation accordingly.
  • As I mentioned previously, you may be experiencing difficulties related to personal growth or mental health that may be impacting your self-perception and in turn your ability to narrow your Roster.  If you think such difficulties may be impeding your career exploration experience, I recommend finding a qualified mental health professional who can help you address these difficulties.

Here are some final Roster narrowing tips:

  • If you want an organized way to compare the fit of the remaining occupations still on your Roster, you can use this “Occupation Fit Worksheet” (or download the .pdf version).  It systematically has you review and rate the fit of an occupation using various criteria.  You can fill out one Worksheet per remaining occupation and use these to help further narrow your Roster.
  • If there are several mental health occupations that you are considering, take the free Mental Health Professions Career Test ©.  The Test will help you explore which of 21 different mental health professions might be the best fit for your interests.

When you’re ready, let’s proceed to Step 4: Identify Education & Training Options.