How to choose a career

By Tom Evans

If you’re looking to take your first steps on the career ladder – or if you’re thinking of changing direction and choosing a different career path – then working out how to choose the right career for you is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make.

When it comes to the question of how to choose a career, you might find your mind fogging up and some worries could start niggling. However, having a career development plan isn’t as scary as it sounds. To help you out, 360 Resourcing has put together some career progression advice to set you off down the right track:

Look inward

For anyone picking a career, it can seem like a daunting task, but it can easily be broken down into parts that you can tackle one at a time. The first of which should be to understand your own strengths and values.

Are you great with figures? Perhaps you enjoy being outside. Or, maybe you’ve been tinkering with machines or computer programs since your childhood. Whatever you already enjoy doing, there will be a job that you can use these skills in!

Additionally, do you value teamwork or can you go it alone? Would giving back and caring for others be the most rewarding aspect of your work, or is it all about the challenge? Knowing these aspects can help with understanding the career path to take.

What are your goals?

When you’re embarking on your new career, it also helps to know what you want to get out of it. Of course, money will come into play, and if you just want to chase down sales commissions until you can retire early, then there are plenty of chances to do so.

However, it might be the case that you’d like to work your way up the career ladder until you’re sat in the hot seat, particularly if it comes to being in charge of a household name. Someone has to do it, so why can’t it be you? If you’re seeking out the challenges of leadership, career development opportunities are available in both the private and public spheres.

Understanding what you want from a job, besides the basics, will help you to choose the right career path for you.

Make a list

Once you know the specific aspects that you want from a job, and what you want to work towards, it’s time to start finding roles that match your requirements. When it comes to careers advice, planning ahead will help you to get what you want sooner, so it’s time to make a list.

Google for jobs that seem to match the characteristics you want to find, and then write them down. If you want to discover more about a specific role, the National Careers Service has 800 different job types that you can take a look at. This should make your career planning a little easier, as you’ll be able to read through such aspects as the skills required and the average salary offered for each role.

Once you have your list, go through it to pick out five to ten favourites, which will really help you with deciding upon how to choose a career. Once you have these, go through them with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that you know as much as you can without actually doing the job.

Time to network

Once you’ve worked through your list, you may have found that you prefer some more than others. Cut the list down again to these career progression favourites, so that you’ll likely now have around three to five job titles that you want to explore.

Now, see if anyone you know (or that your friends and family knows) is currently or already has done one of the jobs that you’re interested in. Arrange to speak to them about it, just getting a frank overview of what it involves and its challenges. No job will deliver constant milk and honey, but knowing the stresses and rewards of a particular position will be a great career help.

If no-one you know works in a sector that you’re interested in, think about reaching out to industry-specific recruitment experts, who will not only be able to give you an overview of the role and careers advice, but may also be able to help you find your first job along this path as well!

Make a decision

Now, after all the hard work of career planning, comes what should be the easy part: picking your career. With all of the information at your disposal, take a look at your shortlist to choose the job that should bring you the most satisfaction.

Then, start working towards achieving this position, whether that means gaining the right qualifications, getting your foot in the door, or expanding your existing skills.

Bonus! – Don’t be afraid to move on

Let’s say you’ve made it into the career you initially wanted, but it’s just not what you thought. Perhaps it isn’t as rewarding as you’d hoped, or your own views have changed. Whatever it is, it’s OK to change career paths if you want to.

Never stay in a job that is making you unhappy, but seek out a career that will and then work towards it. Career progression is more of a winding river than a solid track, but knowing your own skills, values, goals, and, yes, worth, will guide you towards the kind of career that meets your individual needs.

If you’re ready to start your career search then you can always view some great current job opportunities here.

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