Making career choices

Deciding on a career path and finding a suitable job can be a daunting task. You will need to ask yourself questions such as: what do I want to do? How do I know if a job is going to be right for me? Where do I start looking?

This guide will show you how to go about selecting the right career for you, where to start looking for jobs, and techniques to help you secure the job that you want.

The task of finding a career will seem a lot less overwhelming if you have a structured and methodical approach.


It might sound a bit clichéd, but the first step is to get to know yourself really well. You need to stand back and take a good look at yourself before making any decisions about your future.

Start by making a list of the following:

  • your achievements
  • your interests
  • your abilities

Your achievements

While your formal qualifications are important, do not overlook your other achievements. They could play a key part in determining the right type of job for you. For example, you may have certificates, such as a Duke of Edinburgh award or a driving licence, or times you have worked well in a team or under pressure, being captain of a sports team, your position or involvement in clubs or societies.

Your interests

A job does not just have to be a source of income – it can be something you genuinely find motivating and interesting. So take some time to think about what you enjoy most in life and what gives you a feeling of satisfaction. Do you enjoy socialising and being with or helping people? Do you prefer problem-solving or pulling things apart to see how they work? Are you the creative type? Do you enjoy writing stories or poetry or designing clothes? What compliments or criticism do you get from people who know you well? What are you good at? Make a list of all of these things to help structure what it is you are looking for in a job.

Your abilities

The more often you do something, the better you will become. You are more likely to do things you enjoy regularly; your interests and abilities will often overlap. Note next to your interests what skills/abilities are involved. Your list may include some of the following:

  • solving problems
  • artistic flair
  • creative imagination
  • involvement in outdoor pursuits
  • using computers
  • helping people
  • working with numbers
  • carrying out practical tasks
  • working with others in a team
  • leading a team
  • performing scientific tasks/experiments
  • listening to problems
  • responding well to competition or a challenge

The list will highlight your skills that could be useful in a job. Employers will mention required skills on job descriptions, even if they are not described in the same way that you think of them. For example:

  • good interpersonal skills – you work well with people and respond to the needs of others
  • communication skills – you express yourself clearly and concisely
  • good organisational skills
  • IT-literate – you can use a computer to carry out tasks
  • logic and reasoning skills – you are good at problem-solving
  • numerate – you can work with numbers
  • initiative – you can think through a problem independently