What to do if you don't know what career path to choose

February 26 2020 , 0 Comments

Student looking at the sky
Do you feel like everyone else has their career plan all figured out but you haven’t a clue?

Don’t worry! Thinking about the future often feels completely overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. In today’s job market, a career is not for life the majority of the time so whether you’re 16 and thinking about your first career path or 45 and considering a career change, you have plenty of options.

Career indecisiveness is common but when a decision needs to be made there are some things you should keep in mind:

Evaluate your strengths

Knowing what your strengths are will help you to choose the right career path for you. Utilising your strengths is a great way to develop your skills and increase your potential. Try looking for activities in school, college or university which will help build your strengths or you could even volunteer. When discovering your strengths you will learn faster, build your confidence and find happiness in what you are doing.

Understanding your strengths and identifying your weaknesses is a way to find out what you’re passionate about so you can set clear aspirations about what you want to do for a successful career. It’s also a popular question which is asked during interviews so identifying them now will also help you nail the dreaded ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ question in an interview.

Network

If you’re unsure of your strengths then networking is a great way to discover these. By networking, you can get out and meet people in employment. Finding out what employees enjoy about their job is a great way to understand where you might fit in. It’s also a great way to build your connections and helps you to stay motivated when deciding your career path.

Try to figure out what you want out of networking before you do it. It is much more effective to align your network with your career goals. However, if you’re still indecisive about this then you can get out there and find out your long term and short term aspirations.

What makes you happy?

We spend a large portion of our lives in work, so if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing then it can feel like a monotonous life cycle. When choosing your career route, it’s important to think about what makes you happy.

Think about what you enjoy at school, college or university. Maybe you love English — perhaps a career in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) might suit you. Or do you enjoy working with numbers? A career in accounting could be right up your street. Being happy in the workplace is crucial to a fulfilled life but remember, you don’t have to get it right the first time!

You might be feeling completely overwhelmed, but even if you feel you have taken the wrong career avenue there is no reason why you can’t change. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the average person changes careers 5-7 times in their life!

Work experience

There is no better way to find out about a job role than to experience it first hand. Plus it’s an added bonus that this makes you more employable! Finding work experience shows that you are proactive and will help you to develop transferable skills which will help you once you’ve decided your career path. It also highlights your determination and gives you the opportunity to find out what industry and area of a business are best suited to you.

Work experience also helps you to develop your knowledge and gives you a sample of all the career options out there. It is particularly beneficial if you have no previous experience as it can help prepare you for the world of work and give your CV that extra boost in the future!

Explore your options

As you begin to build a list of all your potential career options and areas of interest you can start to look at them more in-depth. Think about what qualifications you need to forge a career in your industry of interest. Do you need to go to university or could you do an apprenticeship? Evaluate whether you’re willing to commit to training to gain the qualification required if you don’t already have it. Deciding this will help narrow down your career choices.

If you don’t want to go to university, remember, there are still options to choose from, such as, apprenticeships, courses, professional jobs, traineeships or even working abroad. It’s all about understanding these options and choosing what’s right for you but remember - even if you go down the wrong career path, you always have options and a career isn’t for life if you don’t want it to be!

Ask for help

Never be afraid to ask for help! Speak with your parents, your friends or a career support website who can help you to fully understand all the opportunities available to you. Take their advice on board, but remember to do what's best for you and not what everyone else wants you to do. The decision is always in your own hands so make it count!

 

Simon Bell is the founder and director of careermap.co.uk, an online careers resource for students, graduates, career advisers and teachers. Careermap provides career support, live vacancies and best practice for schools and colleges.


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