Dealing with Numerous Career Choices

Terms of Use

Privacy Policy



Winning Careers

Article Index

Offer to Speak


Search this Site

All material on
this page is
Copyright 2016 by
Peter G. Raeth  Contact

Find Career Mentor on LinkedIn

As I offer input on peoples’ career choices, an oft-encountered dilemma they face is a confusion of possibilities. While there is no perfection on this earth, it is possible to objectively consider many alternatives so that reasonable choices are made. That means you should use an approach that helps you systematically eliminate alternatives.

One technique is to create a decision table. Begin by listing potential careers along the Y axis (rows) of a table (spreadsheet) and your career needs/values along the X axis (columns). Place a score into each cell. This score measures how well a given career satisfies a given need/value. You can use whatever scoring range you like. Some people like to use 0 (worst match), 25 (somewhat matches), 50 (neutral), 75 (good match), 100 (best match). When all cells are populated, add the scores in the columns for each row. Eliminate low scoring rows. Then repeat the process until just one or two rows remain. This gives you a chance to carefully consider your career alternatives relative to your personal values and your needs in a career.

Macnab, Fitzsimmons, and Casserly offer the following suggestions for career needs/values (X axis) that you should consider: Ability Utilization, Achievement, Advancement, Aesthetics, Associates and Social Interaction, Authority, Autonomy, Creativity, Economic Rewards, Economic Security, Environment, Intellectual Stimulation, Life Style, Participation in Organization Decision Making, Prestige, Responsibility, Risk Taking and Safety, Spiritual Values, Supervisory Relations, Variety, Cultural Identity, and Physical Activity.

Working with a certified career counselor is always a good idea. If you want to explore your personality on your own, you can find the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) at This is a pure personality survey that can be taken free of charge. It does not point you at specific careers and jobs but it does help you attain an understanding of yourself.

As you explore the details of a given job (, you will find that the job description indicates the need for certain personality traits. You may want to concentrate on those jobs that require traits for which you receives high IPIP test scores. Personality scores should be balanced with personal desire. It is best to go after careers and jobs that balance your strengths in personality, desire, and talent.

There are two versions of the IPIP, short (120 questions) and long (300 questions). My recommendation is that you take the long version since its results will be more accurate. This takes time but your future is worth the time. The IPIP measures five broad personality traits:

  • Extraversion. Encompasses talkative, energetic, assertive.
  • Agreeableness. Includes sympathetic, kind, affectionate.
  • Conscientiousness. Includes organized, thorough, ability to plan.
  • Neuroticism. Includes tense, moody, anxious.
  • Openness to Experience. Includes wide interests, imaginative, insightful.

Learn about self-given free career assessments by starting with The careers and jobs that come from that assessment can make up the Y axis of your decision table.

By using an objective method to evaluate career choices, you can come to very good conclusions. After finishing a career assessment and exploring the resulting potential career fields, use your decision table to arrive at a conclusion on which career to pursue. Then develop an education/training/certification plan. Finally, act, implement that plan. Yet, do not be rigid. As the plan is being carried out, you may discover new information and potential career paths. You should not be afraid to evolve your plan and track as you proceed since nothing you learn will ever be wasted. A variety of learning and experiences makes you very versatile, a highly desired trait. You will use it all as you narrow in on your best career path.



For details on career needs/values see:

Macnab, D., Fitzsimmons, G., Casserly, C. (1987) “Development of the Life Roles Inventory-Values Scale”, Canadian Journal of Counselling, Vol. 21:2-3,


Browse The Bookstore

Browse The Bookstore