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How to Decide on a Career


Deciding on a career can be challenging and sometimes school leavers and graduates struggle to know where to begin. There are so many career paths to choose from, and there is also the worry that you will not be able to find a job in your chosen career. When considering a career, it is vital to examine your values and beliefs and think about the areas that are important to you. You can then make a list of all the things you would like in a career and those you would not like.

Should you consider a career that really interests you or one which offers more job opportunities? Do you want a career that offers a high salary or one that commands respect and status? Are you keen to use your skills and talents in your career? Do you want to specialise in a particular area or are you happy to have a more general role without any specialist skills? Will the career of your dreams turn out to be as satisfying as you think it will be?

If you are unsure which career will suit you, it would be wise to spend some time thinking about yourself and your interests. As you become acquainted with your skills and qualities you will have a better understanding of what motivates you. You can then start to use this information to identify matching careers, courses and potential employers. Think about the skills you wish to use at work, your feelings about further study, which working environments appeal to you, the sort of lifestyle you want and so on.

Talk to your friends and family and ask them which career they think would suit you. They know you best and may be able to identify careers that match your skills and qualities. You can also speak to a careers advisor at school or college, or you can visit your local library and read up on different industries and companies that interest you. It would be good to look at some other areas too:

  • Do some research into careers that interest you and find out what courses you need to get the job you want
  • Maybe you prefer to do any type of work during the week to earn some money so that you can attend college for two or three evenings per week to work towards the career of your choice
  • Have you considered training courses and apprenticeships which match your interests and abilities? Apprenticeships are a way of combining working with studying about a job
  • You may wish to take advantage of a gap year to gain some life experience before settling down to studies or a career
  • Perhaps you are not interested in further education at all — you may wish to go straight into work and start earning a wage

It would be useful to look at six key areas which will help you identify a suitable career:

  • Interests
  • Skills
  • Knowledge
  • Personal qualities
  • Experience
  • Achievements

Go through each of these areas, making a list of your key interests, skills, knowledge, personal qualities, experience and achievements and how they will best fit with your choice of career. We will examine each of these areas in more detail in our next article.