The road to finding your career path can be a bumpy one. I know this first hand and have also heard countless stories from candidates I’ve worked with throughout my career. As a recruiter with connection to many successful career stories, I’d like to offer a few insights on the topic of doing what you love. It starts with simply this: knowing yourself.

Sure, we’ve all had jobs we look back on and laugh, causing us to muse, “What was I thinking!” A nice example for most is the first job you had back in high school, just to appease your parents. It was the job you took to make some extra cash to do the “fun” things your allowance didn’t quite cover. Or the job you took because your friend worked there, or better yet, your high school crush worked there.

Fast-forward a couple of years down the road. You took a job that helped you pay for your education, or maybe that launched you into an internship to learn about a trade. Personally, I’ll never forget my first office job. Wow, was it boring! I could hardly wait for the clock to read 5 p.m. so I could get the heck out of the stale, awkward environment and go hang out with my friends. I remember asking myself, “You mean this is what adults do? Sit at desks for 8-9 hours a day in front of a computer like robots? No thank-you.”

It wasn’t until my first job out of school that I truly got to know myself, and I mean really know myself. I was recruited out of business school to work at a Fortune 500 company, and I felt like a pretty big deal to be making decent money at age 22 with no “real” experience other than my schooling. There was one problem. I hated it. I again found myself stuck at the computer, starring at numbers all day. I started to ask myself, “Why did I choose a job as a business analyst?”

Sitting at the computer day after day, I began to realize how important it was for me to acknowledge that I was a people-person, and that I should be doing something that actually had me interacting with people, as opposed to crunching numbers. After this realization, I tried to move within the Fortune 500. Good luck doing that when you’ve only been at your job for six months. Naturally, they didn’t make a way for that to happen. I understand the reasons behind that now, but at that time, I was so heartbroken that they wouldn’t let me move into HR or marketing. However, if they’d made an exception for me, they’d have to make it for others. Oh, the slippery slope of corporate policy.

I then made up my mind to figure out what kind of vocation would play to my natural strengths. I read self-help books and took all kinds of career exploration inventories. I asked my family and friends what they could see me doing in a career. Of course my mom told me I should be in a career where I could truly help people, and my dad said he saw my competitiveness being a strong asset in the business world. After six months of soul-searching, I decided that I was going to target a career in recruiting or training. So what did I do? Found an entry-level job as a recruiting coordinator. I literally did nothing but schedule interviews for other recruiters for a year. It was not glamorous, but I used this time to understand sorts of styles of recruiters and the kinds of positions they worked on.

Fast-forward nine years, and here I am living my dream – I am basically running my own little business centered around placing mid- to senior-level digital marketing professionals into various companies – emerging growth to Fortune 100. I have the privilege of interviewing people every day, but to me it’s more than that. I am a trusted advisor and consultant to my clients and my candidates. I am not in front of a computer all day (ok, some days more than others). I love that I get to tour my clients’ offices, learn about their unique culture, and truly be a partner in adding value to their firm. I love that I get to work with such smart business minds at Versique and although the path to get here was quite bumpy (I left out a lot of other companies that I worked for in my twenties…), I am here now. I have arrived.

Have you? If not, what steps are you taking to discover your dream career? Forbes has a great article titled, “9 Questions That’ll Help You Find Your Dream Career.” I wish you the best on your endeavor.

img280_King-Laura-versiqueDo you have any insight on how you moved toward your dream career? Leave a comment below for others to benefit.

Laura King is an interactive marketing recruiter at Versique Executive Search and Consulting. She can be reached at lking@versique.com.