10 essential questions to ask yourself when choosing a career

Your career has a big impact on your future. It will shape your identity, personal fulfilment, lifestyle, income, family and retirement. Don’t let the opinions or expectations of others sway your decision making. Ultimately, your career choice is solely yours. In this article we explain how to decide on a future job and what factors to consider when weighing up the options so that you make the best informed decision for your future.

Interests, Values & Personality Traits

1. What are my interests?

The activities you enjoy doing in your free time can give you insights into the careers that would be satisfying and fulfilling for you. To figure out your interests, ask yourself:

  • What hobbies do I enjoy?
  • Do I prefer spending time indoors or outdoors?
  • Do I enjoy working with people, animals, data or books?
  • What activities would I miss the most if I could no longer do them?

2. What are my values?

Everyone has values or things that are important to them, such as financial security, social justice or work-life balance. These values can help you decide what type of career to pursue. Here for instance, consider a job that pays well if you value financial security, and consider the type of hours you’d like to work to achieve work-life balance and what career may offer that to you.

3. What is my personality?

Your personality is the way you think, feel and behave. It can be an important factor in guiding you towards a specific career, so consider several aspects of your personality as you reflect on your future.

  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
  • Do you prefer to cooperate or compete with others?
  • Do you enjoy helping others or prefer to empower them to do things themselves?
  • Are you a thinker who focuses on ideas or are you a doer who takes action?
  • Are you a creative and artistic person or do you thrive with structure and routine?

Skills, Attributes & Education

4. What are my skills?

Right now, you already possess skills that can help you succeed in the future. Think about your hard skills and soft skills.

  • Hard skills – skills you’ve acquired through study, such as culinary arts or computer programming.
  • Soft skills – the people and life skills you possess, including empathy, teamwork, problem-solving and time management.

Remember, skills can be developed and new skills can be learned at any stage of life, so don’t let a lack of skills put you off a certain career path. Let the existing skills you have guide you. Whether you require further skill development or not will be the next challenge.

5. What are my talents and strengths?

From the time you were little, you demonstrated talents and strengths that make you unique; these qualities can help you succeed in your chosen career. In fact, Sir Ken Robinson, author of The Element, Out of Our Minds, says that: “You owe it to yourself to ensure that there’s some part of your day or week when you’re doing what comes most naturally to you and makes you feel at your most centered and authentic.”

If you don’t know your talents and strengths, make a list of everything you’re good at doing. Your family members, friends, teachers, boss and mentors can help you write this list that you will use to narrow down potential careers.

6. What education or training do I need?

Certain careers require advanced education and financial investment. For example, you may need eight to 12 years of education and training to be a doctor, but you could earn a hospitality management bachelor in four years. Think about the time and money required to pursue a career as you make your decision.

If you already have these hard skills but feel as though you a missing a peice of the puzzle, soft skills such as effective communication, are highly sought after in leadership positions in the hospitality industry. Skills such as communication, leadership, critical thinking, organization, follow through, cultural competency, flexibility, and customer service, just to name a few.

According to Daniel Ciapponi, a Senior Lecturer at EHL, these soft skills are currently missing in hospitality in what he describes a Skills Gap. Therefore, developing and honing these skills will give any candidate the competitive edge.

As a general rule, although there are exceptions, the higher the salary bracket, the higher the education level is required. However, any career path is worthy of such time and financial investment, but you have to decide whether it is worth it to you.

Salary & Lifestyle

7. How much money do I want to make?

Different careers provide different monetary rewards. Even though salary shouldn’t be the main factor in choosing a career, your paycheck can play a role in your quality of life and where you live. Consider your earning potential as you narrow down your career options.

8. Where do I want to live?

Some jobs are more readily accessible while others can only be performed in certain locations. For example, you will probably need to live in a rural location if you choose to work as a park ranger or farmer, and you may want to live near an urban area if you plan to pursue a finance or fashion career. Plan carefully to ensure you can work where you want to live – and vice versa.

Availability & Competition

9. Are there jobs available in this career?

LinkedIn publishes stats on the most in-demand jobs globally, a variety of IT roles have been the highest in-demand for a number of years now, followed by sales people and registered nurses.

Interestingly, statistics from the second half of 2021 showed that the biggest amount of new job listings during this time came from the hospitality sector, with housekeepers, food specialists and kitchen staff all making the top 10 spots. The labor shortage in the hospitality industry happened because of the dramatic reduction in staff when global restrictions were imposed and subsequent surge in demand for the industry caused by Covid-19 restrictions loosening again. Whilst the industry is desperately trying to attract new talent to the industry it presents a perfect opportunity for young graduates to bag themselves better working conditions such as work-life balance, paid leave and higher salaries.

While you don’t have to work in one of these popular occupations, you should consider the potential job availability in your future career field. The travel and tourism sector is estimated to contribute $8.6 trillion to the global economy in 2022, supported by 330 million jobs in 2022.

10. How competitive is this career path?

Choosing a competitive career path isn’t to be automatically shunned. Competitive by its very nature means there must be a rich reward for those who are successful in attaining the post and therefore it is a worthwhile pursuit. You must, however, weigh up the risk vs. reward. Are you prepared to accept rejection and failure countless times before you’re accepted? Are you prepared to jump through as many hoops as required to reach this goal, such as further education, gaining internships and real-world work experience, and often extensive application and interview processes? If the answer is yes, then you probably have what it takes!

Over to you…

After answering these 10 questions, we hope that the clarity of your vision and talents has been sharpened. Remember that audacity and ambition have a better chance to develop once you are fully aware of how you function, what your strengths are and what you value. The future is yours!

About EHL Group

EHL Group encompasses a portfolio of specialized business units that deliver hospitality management education and innovation worldwide. Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Group includes:

EHL Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893 with over 25,000 alumni worldwide and over 120 nationalities. EHL is the world’s first hospitality management school that provides undergraduate and graduate programs at its campuses in Lausanne, Singapore and Chur-Passugg, as well as online learning solutions. The university of applied sciences is ranked n°1 by QS World University Rankings by subject and CEOWorld Magazine, and its gastronomic restaurant is the world’s only educational establishment to hold a Michelin Star for a third consecutive year.

EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality has been one of the leading hospitality management colleges for hotel specialists for over 50 years. The College delivers Swiss-accredited federal diplomas of vocational education and training and of higher education in its 19th century spa-hotel in Chur-Passugg, Graubünden, to Swiss and international students from 30 countries.

EHL Advisory Services is the largest Swiss hospitality advisory company specializing in service culture implementation, business consulting, as well as the development and quality assurance of learning centers. EHL Advisory Services has offices in Lausanne, Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi and has delivered mandates in more than 60 countries over the past 40 years.


Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
Communications Department
+41 21 785 1354

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