Career planning step-by-step

Whether you already have a career in mind, or haven’t decided what you want to do, career planning isn’t as scary as it sounds! But it’s important to do your research and gather information so when the time comes to make that all-important decision, you’ll be well-informed. So, where to begin when choosing a career?

1. About me

Have a think about each of the questions below. Then list your own skills, qualities, values and strengths. Write down this important information and if it helps, discuss the questions and your answers with friends and/or a teacher.

  • A skill is something you can do well – it can cover every day things as well as special talents e.g. juggling. You can be trained to develop skills as well as learn new skills throughout your life e.g. learning to drive.
  • Qualities are the things that make each of us an individual and they contribute to our personality. They could be things like patience, honesty, reliability, enthusiasm and resilience.
  • Values are linked to what it is that will make you happy in the job you do. Understanding what is important to you now will give you the best chance of finding a role that lives up to your expectations.
Idea brainstorming

Career planning tip: You’ve looked at your strengths, values and aspirations but do these match up to your interests? If you’re interested in something, you’ll be more likely to be motivated to do your best and quite often job or course applications will ask candidates to demonstrate their interest in something.

Research on laptop

2. Investigating options

Whether you’ve narrowed down your career choice to one job role, or several job sectors it’s important to research the following:

  • Duties and work activities of doing the kind of job you are interested in
  • Average income and salary progression
  • Entry routes and qualifications required
  • Possible career paths
  • Future trends in the type of job and amount of work available
  • Opportunities for employment where you are

3. Exploring strengths and weaknesses

Start with a job you’ve already investigated, and use what you found out to note down how it matches your strengths and interests, and then outline the evidence you have for this. This involves considering your strengths and weaknesses, what opportunities are available to you now or in the near future and external factors that you can’t control.

4. Action Plan

With an idea of what job you may want to do, you can create an action plan to make things happen. It is important to set yourself realistic and measurable targets, and include a deadline for reviewing your progress. You need to be able to measure your success and recognise when you have done what you set out to do.

Brain-storming ideas with pen and paper
Student thinking

5. What next?

The final step is all about self-reflection. You need to be honest with yourself about whether the job you’ve been researching is something you really want to do. If it’s not, it’s time to investigate another option.

If you need advice and guidance in relation to the above or anything else, come and see our Careers Team at one of our Advice Days or call 01582 569 569 and book an appointment.