12 Top Tips – I don’t know what to do for a career or a job

I don’t know what to do with my life” – “I don’t have a clue what I want to do” – these are common statements and you might either have said them yourself or even are saying so right now, this is not a matter of mere confusion, but it is a matter of understanding the self – who you really are.

Many of us had a difficult time choosing a career path in college or university. You either got advice or you were told what to do, and if you weren’t, you took your fancy. When the advice came you heard various things – advice solely based around money you might get, whilst others spoke about a certain career purely based on understanding your skills.

While both pieces of advice hold some value, there is a thorough way to choose a career based on your preferences, values, principles, and abilities. Moreover, we have transmitted knowledge which shows us how we can choose a career that will not only be beneficial for us in this world but in the next.

Here is a series of points that may prove useful for you when considering what you should do.




1. Where Do I Start?

Whenever people consider what they should do, be it a decision on a career, a job, an idea, or a business – they ask what should I do? This question is never going to help you. If you don’t know what to do in the first place, how are you going to answer that? What you should be asking is “what don’t I want to do?” – This will be much easier because you will more than likely know what you don’t want. Analyse your answers and you’ll get closer to what you want to do.

Let’s take an example, get a paper and draw two columns on it, one headed “What I don’t want to do” and the other headed, “Why”. So do you want to be a Builder? You decide it isn’t what you want to do and so you put it in the first column. Now you ask yourself why? It may be because you have to stand all day? You have to get your hands dirty? Not enough money in it for me? So you put down, “Not the standing type, don’t want to get hands dirty, Money” – this list of negatives can go on and on. What you will find is that you will come closer to what you want to do by understanding these negatives and analysing the reasons behind them. If you can understand your own motives – you will understand who you are.


2. Consider your Interests or Hobbies

Mawlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi (r) is often quoted to have said, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” He also said, “Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”

Everyone naturally is inclined towards something and will excel in that particular thing. Some people have a love for Maths, others for Language. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer. So you should consider what your hobbies/interests are and write them down. Also, think about why you enjoy these hobbies/interests. What did you use to do a lot when you were younger? What did you naturally incline towards? If you like to assemble things, for example, perhaps the reason is because you like to create, and so a creative career might be a good fit for you.


3. Know your Deficiencies

There is a very well-known tradition which informs if you know yourself, you will know your Lord. What we take from this tradition is that we need to understand ourselves in our deficiencies. And by knowing our deficiencies we can turn to our Lord. Knowledge of your deficiencies creates a realisation not only of your potential but exactly who you are at the moment. You can then begin to address your deficiencies by turning to Allah and also measure your skills against a particular career or job.


4. Know your Identity

Muslims should enter into a career considering their Muslim identity. Certain careers may have a negative effect from an Islamic viewpoint. Things that pose a potential problem for the practising Muslim man or woman. So when considering a career you must remember that your life as a Muslim, wherever you happen to live, has the same purpose as all other Muslims. That is to remain obedient to the commands and prohibitions of Allah and His Beloved Messenger (s- continuous peace and blessings be upon him) and to maintain and excel as a human being as well as a Muslim.




5. Seek Advice

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) stated, “No man ever perished from seeking advice,” and Ja’far al-Sadiq said to Sufyan al-Thawri (May Allah be pleased with both), “Seek advice in your affairs from those who are God-fearing.” Even the Beloved Prophet (s) was commanded to seek advice although he was the most intelligent and wise, but it was a means to show us what we should be doing.

Whether you’re at school, college or university, or perhaps working – try to visit those senior in your community and ask them. Ask careers advisors, and visit careers centres or search the internet for them. There are many resources available.


6. Take a Test

A popular method used by careers websites and services is to have you do a careers compatibility test – psychology based tests. You may want to have a go at these. They will give you a number of suggestions based on your answers. Analyse what the suggestions are and perhaps you may find a suitable match.


7. Get in Touch with Professionals

If you are interested in certain careers, get in touch with people already working in those fields. Ask them whatever you want to know. Most people are happy to discuss such matters and you will learn a lot. Google people, you’ll find professionals on LinkedIn and on other platforms.


8. Get a Mentor or Shadow Someone

If you meet someone from a particular field ask them if they can be a mentor for you if you wish to go into the same field. You can even ask them if it is possible to shadow someone for a day. That will give you a clear idea of what their day is like. Through observation, you will learn a lot. In fact, you may even pick up on things that employees won’t necessarily see.


9. Get an Internship

Try to get an internship or job – especially if you have shadowed someone or have a mentor. This will give you work experience and could open the door to a future job.


10. Volunteering

An alternative to an internship is to consider volunteering. Through volunteering you can gain much exposure and learn many skills. You can call it quits whenever you want.




11. Having the Right Attitude

It is all in the attitude – yes be active but you must have the right attitude too. Do not be afraid to approach people or make phone calls. You may otherwise miss out on a great opportunity if you don’t.

We are created to know, love, and serve our Lord and to honour our parents, and faith is not complete until we want for humanity what we want for ourselves. We should never settle for anything less than excellence in our lives and for Islam. Ihsan (virtuous and spiritual excellence) in everything is the acem of our faith. Try to be the best and most perfect in all that you do, “Surely, Allah has prescribed excellence in all things,” said the Beloved Messenger (s) and Allah reminds us in the Qur’an, “Allah is with the people of excellence” (29:69).


12. Be Open

Many of us know about this – mum and dad having a go at you about a job. They wanted you to become a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer or a pharmacist. But you as a normal young teenager thought to yourself there is no way I would even consider it. Being either of them could have been great for you, but if you are not open to suggestions or ideas, you will never know.


13. Everyone Has Values and Principles

Take an honest look at your priorities and understand how or if they’ll be affected by the careers you consider. You may hold values and principles aside from religion – say you don’t want to travel, you need to be with family, you need so and so. Consider these things.


14. Don’t Settle on Anything

Many people tend to get a job and settle on it even though they may hate it. This is not ideal because we’re happiest when we live up to our full potential. Even if it takes many years to find a satisfying career, it’s better late than never.


15. Don’t Be Afraid To Switch Careers

If you make a wrong turn, you are not stuck. You can always make a change. It is not a bad thing – many people have career switches throughout their lives. One of the things you may want to consider is looking at your CV and see what you have done. Where does your experience excel? What are you missing? Can you use your skills or hobbies for a greater purpose?


16. Consider Being Your Own Boss

The Beloved Prophet (s) was a merchant and so was Khadīja al-Kubra (May Allah be pleased with her) – likewise many of the Noble Companions, great scholars and saints of the past. What is interesting about this is that all of these great individuals – from Prophets to Saints – all of them served humanity and cared for them. The merchant is one of the most beneficial person in society – everything there is today is from commerce. It also teaches you good character and naturally people go back to those that treat people well.

The Beloved Prophet (s) said he was only sent to perfect character and he taught us what that is. The I always encourage Muslims to be entrepreneurial, not only because it is in our history but because going down this route gives us an opportunity increase us in our Religion if we do it right. It will also give you the opportunity to spend in the way of Allah. The Prophet (s) said, “The truthful, honest merchant is with the prophets and the truthful ones and the martyrs.”

Read this blog for some entrepreneurial traits and see Hamza Yusuf on Fair Trade.


17. You Have The Last Word

The more effort you put into your search for the right career, the more you’ll get out of it. Diligently invest your time and effort because change like this is rarely easy, but often rewarding.


Do you have any other ideas on finding your perfect career?


Mubashir Anwar
The Blessed Hub