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Choose a Career with Your Must-Haves

7 Handy Checklists for Exploring Your Career Must-Haves

7 Handy Checklists for Exploring Your Career Must-Haves

7 Handy Checklists for Exploring Your Career Must-Haves

Summary: Use checklists to help you determine your career preferences in categories like workplace features and structure, skills, education requirements, and benefits.

Checklists Can Help You Prioritize Your Career Essentials

There are many reasons to choose a career—interest, income, and advancement opportunities, to name a few. Knowing what matters to you most will help you narrow down your options to find a challenging and fulfilling career. At current estimates, there are 11 million job openings in the U.S. alone.

If you’re wondering how to choose a career or where to begin, here are seven checklists that you can use to help you identify your career preferences. To get the most out of these lists, browse each category and highlight, circle, or mark the items that are important to you. Then, cross out the ones that don’t matter as much. When you have gone through all seven career categories, look at what you selected and try to rank them from most to least important.

Work Structure

  • Work with others
  • Work solo
  • Work regular hours
  • Work overtime as required
  • Work flexible hours
  • Work from home
  • Have a certain amount of vacation/leave/paid time off (PTO)
  • Lead and take responsibility for others
  • Receive guidance/orders from supervisor
  • Help or teach others
  • Compete with others


  • Work at a large company
  • Work at a small company
  • Be a contract worker or self-employed
  • Join the private sector (i.e., public, for-profit businesses)
  • Join a governmental organization
  • Join a nonprofit/public service group
  • Work indoors
  • Work outdoors
  • Work in a shared/open space
  • Work in an office/cubicle
  • Be located in a city
  • Be located in a smaller town
  • Stay in one location
  • Move for a job
  • Work anywhere in the country
  • Work in one specific place
  • Work in another country

Job Characteristics

  • Create/manufacture products
  • Produce information/knowledge
  • Provide service to others
  • Implement other’s ideas
  • Invent/design original concepts
  • Perform regular/predictable tasks
  • Have variety in your daily routine
  • Carry out employer’s objectives
  • Pursue personal goals


  • Have some job-specific skills
  • Need prior job-specific skills
  • Require no special training
  • Train on the job
  • Apprentice to learn
  • Earn certification in less than a year
  • Earn a 2-year college degree
  • Earn a 4-year college degree
  • Earn a graduate school degree

Financial Rewards

  • Require high earning potential
  • Prefer rewards other than salary
  • Need job security
  • Expect regular/guaranteed salary increases
  • Need a benefits package/health care/pension
  • Work for an hourly wage
  • Prefer the possibility of overtime pay
  • Work on commission
  • Expect bonuses/performance incentives

Personal Rewards

  • Help others at work
  • Improve community/benefit society
  • Achieve status/power/respect
  • Travel
  • Work independently
  • Work creatively
  • Has a volunteer program/community partners


  • Consider family highest priority
  • Achieve balance of work and family
  • Provide benefits for families (e.g., discounted/free childcare or paid parental leave)
  • Bring your pet to the office
  • Avoid any travel for work

Finding the Best Career Fit

Career fit refers to how well your job aligns to your passions, personality, and priorities. Completing your checklists can help you find the best fit. You can use your lists in a variety of ways—when looking for employment or selecting a career path, check how the career path or job meets your priorities.

You may also want to revisit your prioritized list over time after you’ve had some training or job experience. With additional experiences or education may come new ideas about your career path or potential job. Keep in mind that even if a job seems like a good fit or an exciting job, chances are you will only be happy if it meets the majority of items on your priority list.