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Choosing a Career

Let us be your careers guru

Crack open the incense: it’s time for some self-reflection (or just leave out the incense bit). When choosing a career, you need to identify your skills, your personality, your motivations and your interests. What are you good at? And we don’t just mean academically. Are you imaginative? Great with people? Always organising things?

Write down a list of your skills and the keywords that best describe your personality. Also, note down three things that you are absolutely rubbish at (just three, mind you, there’s no self-hating on our watch). So if you’re allergic to numbers, then we can strike off numerically-based careers. Bye, bye accountancy.

Think about what you want from a career. Is it the promise of a big fat pay cheque? Or the warm glow of helping others? How important is a good work-life balance?

Think about what you’re interested in, be it music, politics, TV or finance. It’s all about finding a balance between your skills and interests. Say you love sport, but are hopeless at it, then look to your other skills. Got writing skills? You could become a sports journalist. Good at negotiating? A career as a sports agent might be just the ticket.

Right then, now you’re armed with an informed understanding of what your skills and interests are, it’s time to find careers that match them.

Be aware of all the opportunities

Think less doctor, fireman, lawyer or nurse; think more lexicographer, haematologist, mudlogger or therapeutic radiographer

Have a gander through our job sectors and see what tickles your fancy and matches your skills. You never know, even the supposedly ‘boring’ careers might be perfect for you. Try out our careers test to see which job sectors best suit you. Go to careers fairs, do further research and talk to people; find out what’s really involved. Work experience is very useful. You might want to pick a broad sector that matches your interests, say media, then get work experience in several different areas of the industry to see what fits you best.

Look beyond the obvious and don’t be put off by career stereotypes. Yes, being a health and safety officer might mean you get people endlessly telling you, “‘It’s health and safety gone mad!”, but equally it might be the perfect job for you. There are really so many different career options out there. It’s time you got clued up!

Find out what the requirements are

Inevitability, a lot of jobs require specific training. Find out what this involves and how long it takes. If you’ve already left education (and don’t plan on going back), then you might need to find jobs that match your existing academic qualifications. Although, remember you can always retrain or go back into education.

Plenty of people study humanities subjects, then go back and take science subjects because they’ve realised they want a scientific career. But remember, there are a huge number of careers out there that aren’t prescriptive about what education and training you’ve done. Often, soft skills (such as personality) matter more.

The main thing is don’t worry, you’re young! You don’t have to choose a career and stick to it for the rest of your life. Often starting one job will lead you in a completely different career direction. Doctors have become comedians, comedians have become doctors. You heard it here first: leopards can change their spots.