Making Career Decisions

by Waller Jamison

Making career decisions is something which everyone finds difficult, and this is often the result of not being given enough information about potential careers as you move though the education system. 

Deciding which career to follow isn't always easy. Negotiating the minefield of other people's aspirations can be tricky and you are also likely to be bombarded with "good careers advice". Often, well-meaning parents and teachers will suggest that you follow a specific career because you are good at it, or there is a demand for it. perhaps there is a family tradition of medicine or teaching or whatever it might be, and they want you to follow it.

However, there is only one person who know what is good for you and that is yourself. You may not feel that this is the case, especially if you are confused by the wealth of information and ideas available.

What do you do if you have researched several careers, as suggested in Part 1, and find you aren't really interested in them after all or that you are interested in more than one type of work?

The first thing to realise is that jobs are not build to fit people, people are expected to fit jobs. So if you don't find all that you are looking for in one place, this is hardly surprising. It is no longer unusual for individuals to earn their living doing several different things. However, building up a portfolio of jobs can take time and you have to start with one. So let's look at some ways in which you might decide which job is best suited to your present needs.

Start by brainstorming every idea you have ever had about possible careers. At this stage don't worry if they are unrealistic - just write them down. Think of what you dreamt of becoming when you were a child and then as a teenager.

Make a note of anything you read about, watched a documentary on and though "I wouldn't mind having a go at that" a list of all the skills and talents you would like to use at work. Again don't worry if you can't see how these might fit together, just get them on paper.

Now list all the transferable skills you have - skills acquired in previous jobs, as a student or in any other area of your life. Examples are ability to use computer packages, communication, teamwork and organisational skills.

Imagine that you are designing your ideal job and put down absolutely everything you'd like to do, even if you don't have all the skills.

Finally, prioritise your skills, talents and desires. Which of the items on your three lists are absolutely essential in your ideal job? And which are desirable? Make a shortlist of essential and desirable aspects for your job and as you read advertisements and job descriptions, look for the closest match.

If you are only able to find about 50% of your requirements in one place, apply the same process to the remaining skills and consider getting 2 part-time jobs. Picking a career is not an exact science. So don't expect to fit into a job description - work at finding one, or more, which fits you.

Remember that no job is perfect and if you hang on for perfection, you may have a long wait. For now, get as close a match as you can, work on developing some of the skills you need to improve or learn some new ones.

A job is no longer for life and so keep your eyes open for new possibilities.

 Keep an open mind as well, a job which you thought wasn't exactly what you want might surprise you, by providing unexpected opportunities. It could give you the experience you need to land that dream job.