Step #2 Do Your Background Research

By now you should have a list of careers that you might enjoy. The next step is to find out more about those careers, so that you can narrow the list down to include only the careers that have real potential for you.

To figure out what each job on your list involve, you need a detailed job description, plus information on qualifications and skills and information and other important stuff like salary, opportunities for progression in the career and ongoing training.

Luckily, it’s very easy to find all of this information in one place, as long as you have access to the internet. There are websites for most countries, usually set up by the government, which provide an an A-Z of careers. They will list just about every job/career you can think of, and give you all the information I’ve mentioned. Just type in Careers A-Z or equivalent if you speak another language and see what comes up.

As a starting point this will help you decide what to keep on your list – some jobs might have less appeal when you see the day to day reality or realize you’ll have to study subjects you didn’t like or do well at in school in order to qualify.

Here are a couple of examples of A-Z type sites that come up when I search here in the UK. You can check for one in your own country if you live elsewhere, but the details should be pretty similar wherever you live.

https://www.planitplus.net/JobProfiles?letter=A

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/articles/zdqnxyc

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles

As you go through the sites, narrow down the careers that you prefer and make a note of why you like the sound of a job or why it’s not looking as good as it did. Think about questions you have about any of the front runners and write these down.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s a great idea to find some people who actually do the jobs and talk to them. At the time of writing, with lockdown and distancing restrictions, you’ll need to do this online. But that can be the best way to find the right people at any time, since it gives you much more scope than just your local area. LinkedIn is a good choice for many professions, Facebook might have groups related to careers and a general search will help you find relevent websites.  You will probably also find professional bodies for most careers and possibly forums where you can learn more, geet to know people and ask questions.

It’s useful to talk to several people if you can, as you’ll get a more balanced view. If you talk to one person who loves the job, they might focus on the great aspects of the work, but leave out some points you might consider to be big negatives. Be sure to ask them about the things you weren’t so sure about, how much time they take up in a typical day or week. Do the same with the bits that sound great – they might not be a major part of the job when you first start.

Once you’ve done all this, you should be a lot closer to finding the right direction and you can start planning how you will get from where you are now to where you want to be.