Understanding career options
In order to effectively make decisions regarding your career, you need to have an awareness of three things; yourself and where your likes, values, and strengths lie; the world of work and what is happening in the general work environment; and influences that will impact on your decision.
Some of these issues will have been covered in preceding modules:
Once you have explored yourself, the world of work and influences, you can begin the process of decision making.
When making a career decision, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- What would I like in my future career?
- What is career success for me?
- Which career am I best suited to?
- What are my first steps towards getting this career?
The decision making process:
- Understand - yourself and what alternatives are open to you
- Seek information - about prospective careers from a variety of sources
- Decide - assess information and make a decision
- Enact - develop an action plan to reach the goal
This module will guide you through each of these steps.
Gaining an understanding of yourself is the first step in considering which careers and roles would suit you. Some of the things you should consider are:
These factors have been considered in the Self-understanding section. If you haven't completed this section, it would be a good idea to do so now.
You can also improve your career-decisions through self reflection, asking others how they perceive you, or undertaking some psychometric tests.
Exploring your interests, values and skills
A useful website that offers activities and tests is Careersnz. It would be useful for you to visit the 'Build your free profile' section.
Once you have undertaken the Self-understanding activities, you are ready to complete the first activity of the Career decisions module
Generally, there are a number of alternatives available rather than one simple answer. To improve your chances of making the best decision, it is important to consider as many alternatives as possible. For instance, if you want to work in the law - do you want to be a police officer, a prison warden, a family lawyer, criminal barrister ….?
Refer to the module Making career decisions for an idea of what opportunities are available to you.
In addition to there being many opportunities available to you, there may also be varied pathways to get you to your desired career. For instance, you might decide to continue studying, or to start working to develop a specialty in a particular field, or to get skills for future career advancement.
Identifying alternatives activity
Rather than deciding on the first idea that comes to mind, identifying and looking at alternatives allows you to consider options you may not have considered.Download
Decision making style
Another important consideration is your decision making style.
Are you someone who makes decisions quickly or do you procrastinate and spend a long time thinking about what to do? While there is no right or wrong way to make a decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to each style
Once you understand your decision making style, you will be able to adopt strategies to enhance your decision making abilities.
What's my decision making style?
Completing the following activity will give you the tools to determine your decision making style and important information, such as what that style means, what influences your preferred style, the pros and cons, and how this affects your choices in life.
Once you have identified a range of possibilities, the next step is to gather as much information as you can. There is no right or wrong way to gather information and your approach will depend on your preferred decision making style.
However, try to gather information from many different sources by:
- Speaking to people
- Reading job advertisements
- Using the internet
- Asking, asking, asking questions.
Make sure you keep a record of all the information you have gathered by writing down key points.
Speaking to people
The first thing you need to do is identify WHO you can talk to about the career path/s you are considering.
This can be people who are actively involved in the field, such as a parent pursuing the same career or a career mentor; or someone who has information they can give you about your chosen profession, such as a university professor with industry experience or a friend who works in a related field.Even people with a loose connection to your industry may give you new insights into your considered field, or inform you of different opportunities you may not have considered.Once you have identified some people to speak with, it's time to approach them. Although it can be daunting, most people are quite happy to be asked about their career and are willing to provide information.
Remember: You are NOT asking for a job but for information about potential careers!
Identifying connections activity
Use this activity to identify people who may be able to provide you with information about potential career choices.Download
Reading job advertisements
By reading a variety of job advertisements, you will gain an understanding of the type of jobs available in your chosen career area and what the conditions are. Gather as much of this information as you can.
While the majority of jobs are not advertised in the open market, reading about widely advertised jobs will increase your knowledge.
Also, read the careers section in your local paper. Cut out any jobs that interest you and keep them for future reference.
Using the Internet
Some very useful websites for job information include:
CareersNZ - perform an occupation search to find industry statistics, personal requirements, and much more for roles you are interested in.
Do a search for any professional associations and organisations that might have information about careers in a particular field, such as:
Find some that relate to your field and look for any information about jobs, including what the career involves.
LinkedIn - The Advanced Search feature allows you to search for people with specific job titles, or who work at specific organisations, making it a very handy career research tool. You can search for people who have your ideal job and see what jobs they had early in their career, to help you plan your own career path. It can also help you identify specific organisations you may want to work for in the future.
One Week Job Project - 24 year old Brisbane resident, Paul Seymour worked 52 jobs in 52 weeks throughout Australia during 2012 in search of his passion. His blog provides a rapid overview of 52 different professions and gives an excellent insight into a host of different career opportunities.
Now you have gathered information about a variety of options, you are ready to begin decision making!
The best way to make a decision is to follow a structured process and objectively consider all options. Look at the immediate circumstances and focus on those. Future considerations are unpredictable!
Using intuition can give you a good guide of your initial impression and shows an understanding of yourself.
Decision making tools
Exploring your decision-making style
This activity will allow you to further explore your decision making style and how it may affect you.Download
Enacting your decision means setting a goal and developing an action plan to achieve it.
For instance, if you have decided you want to be an engineer - what are the steps you need to take to achieve this goal? It might be changing programmes, finding a mentor, or obtaining work experience in the field.
Action planning works best when specific steps are identified. Each time you complete one of the steps, you have achieved a part of your goal.
Now you have completed the decision making process, YOU ARE READY TO BEGIN ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS!
CsunCareerCenter (2012). Experiential Learning - Informational Interviews. Video retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI9M-mFNA7w#t=18
This work includes material from the following sources:
Steps to Success. The University of Queensland. Retrieved from: http://www.uq.edu.au/student-services/new2uq/steps-to-success/course-decisions Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Australia License.
Hero image: Green grass. pixabay.com. Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/nature-grass-plant-dew-53615/ Licensed under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal license.