Want to Make a Wise Career Choice? Here’s How, Using PathwayU’s Career Match Results

PathwayU includes a Career Match tool, which uses a sophisticated patented process to map your unique pattern of interests and values onto more than 1000 job titles. Each of those job titles is linked to a massive amount of information about that occupation, such as what training is required, whether opportunities are growing or shrinking in that field, typical job duties, and average salaries. (This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, which maintains the most comprehensive and up-to-date public source of career information available in the world.)

Selecting a job title within your Career Match results gives you an at-a-glance summary of that occupation, while also inviting you to give the details a deep dive. In this blog post, I share some tips for how to derive maximum benefit from your Career Match results when you are in the throes of career decision-making.

Start your future off on the right foot by making a wise and informed #Career choice using #CareerMatching tools:Click to Tweet

Start with the Right Mindset


When digging into your results, it is important to start with the proper mindset.  To achieve this, keep a few things in mind. 

First, remember that your matches do not tell you what you “should” do with your career. They are a great source of scientifically-supported insight to inform your decision-making process, but they are only one source and are best thought of as a useful starting point. 

Second, don’t worry too much about the rank order of your career matches. Your sixth-strongest match, for example, might be something you should consider more so than those ranked higher. Perhaps you already have some relevant training, or perhaps there are a lot of job openings in your area within that field. Your best strategy is to focus on learning from the matches listed as “Very Strong” or “Strong,” regardless of their ranking. Even better, take a look at your “Careers by Subject Area” results (the default view within PathwayU) to examine the domains with the highest proportion of Very Strong matches. 

Third, you can expect to find some surprises on your list. People usually find a few of their matches to be wildcards that raise their eyebrows or even offend them. But even with these matches, you can learn about yourself. Choose one of those job titles and look at the details of that occupation. What interests does it satisfy? What values does it reinforce?

As a career counselor, I once worked with a client who was mortified that she matched well with Librarian. Then I reminded her she worked at Barnes and Noble, and suddenly Librarian made more sense. Another client laughed because Flight Attendant was a very strong match until we noted that she loved to travel and strongly valued opportunities to show hospitality. A useful question to ask when confronted with a strong match that doesn’t seem appealing is: “What about this occupation makes it a match for my interests and values, and what can I learn from this?”


Curate Your List of Good Fits, and Look for Themes

The list of occupations that fit you well—both in the Career Match tool and, of course, in real life—might be long. Keep in mind that for most of us there is more than one right answer to the question of which career aligns with our calling because callings transcend job titles. Before narrowing things down, take some time to consider all the recommendations you find appealing, especially those in the Very Strong or Strong categories.

Start by making your own list of those good-fitting occupations that seem especially enticing to you, regardless of how much training is required, what it pays, how easy it would be to find a job in that field, or whether you have the skills needed to be successful in it right now. If an occupation in your suggested matches sounds appealing, just add it to your list. You can do this within the Career Match tool by selecting “Add to Favorites.”

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Why is making a list like this helpful?

First, the list of appealing options almost always reveals some clear themes. After you construct your list, read through each job title and make note of any themes that seem apparent. Maybe your list is dominated by job titles that involve teaching, leading, creativity, research, or finance. How well do these themes fit with your gifts? Look at your PathwayU assessment results for hints. Undoubtedly, you will see some convergence.  

Second, more often than not, when putting together their list, people find themselves drawn to two or three particular job titles that seem especially exciting—specific pathways they just can’t stop thinking about. When that happens, it is worth your attention.

Gather Details, and Keep Evaluating

Once you’ve identified a few occupations that jump out as particularly exciting, click on one of those job titles and begin scrutinizing the details. For each occupation, ask yourself: 

  • What in its description sounds especially interesting? 
  • What knowledge and skills are required? 
  • What training is needed, and how accessible is that to me? 
  • Are opportunities in this field expanding? 
  • Will I be able to support my family with a typical salary in this field? 
  • How plentiful are opportunities in this field in the region where I want to live? 

The Career Match results summarize this information for each of your matches. Your goal is to make an informed choice for your career path, so gather the details you need for a thorough evaluation of each potential opportunity.

Specify Your Pathway (a.k.a., Make a Choice)

You’ve now gone from consulting your career matches, to curating a list, to identifying themes, to gathering more detail (both electronically and ideally in-person, using informational interviews). After all this, ask yourself: How well would each of the occupations I’m considering permit me to use my gifts to make the world better?

In answering this question, you may be drawn to one or two career paths that seem tailor-made for you. If a career path with your name on it doesn’t rise to the top right away, don’t despair, just keep gathering information; wise choices are informed choices. But at a certain point, you may find that multiple career paths seem to fit you equally well, and none are jumping out as the one path forward. If this applies to you, take heart. A calling is broader than any one job, and if your gifts can be deployed well in more than one pathway, it is okay to simply choose one of them and move forward.

Portions of this blog post were drawn from Bryan’s newest book, Redeeming Work (2020, Templeton Press). Check out the book for more details!

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