Career Choice

by Waller Jamison

There are a great many factors which influence your career choice, whether you are just starting out in the workforce or making a career change in your 30s, 40s or later. To get you started, here are some of the main areas you need to consider: your personality, your interests, you long term goals and your values.


The 6 broad personality types defined by John Holland are:

Realistic, Social, Conventional, Investigative, Enterpising and Artistic. Most people will find they identify strongly with one of those groups and also have a few traits from a couple of others. In fact you might find that you identify really strongly with two of them. This is a good starting point for determining the best career choice for you.

Generally speaking, artistic people don't like structure and are drawn to creative work, whilst conventional types tend to go for routine and structure and like to have someone else in charge.

The realistic category includes people who enjoy physical work, whether with animals or plants or being involved in sports. They may also be good at making and repairing things, or working with tools and machinery.

Social is fairly obvious - people who enjoy working with people.

Investigative is for all the budding CSIs out there, as well as people who enjoy working in research in any field from journalism to medicine.

Enterprising people are the ones who enjoy setting up businesses, taking risks and being the leader.

Values and Beliefs

If you have important values, these can have a significant bearing on your choice of career and how or where you practise it, for example, if you feel strongly about access to health care for all, you might become a doctor or nurse and work with homeless people, peple on low incomes or you might go abroad to any area where there are limited health care facilities.

If you feel strongly about the way in which we are treating the planet, you might choose to work in some area of conservation.

Ambitions and Goals

These are important motivators when it ocmes to career choice. Do you want to climb to the top of a ladder and enjoy responsibility and a high salary in a corporate environment? Or are you more interested in having a varied career which gives the opportunity to do a wide range of activities?

Are you academic and enjoy gaining qualifications because you have a thirst for knowledge? Do you want to travel or be your own boss, or both?

This is the corner of the room where the sportsmen and women have congregataed along with those who are good at making or fixing things. There are also a few other people who enjoy working outside, with animals or plants or who likek to work with machines or tools.


The interest you have developed so far in your life should alsobe key components in your choice of career. After all, no-one wants to spend a lifetime doing a job which they find boring. So think about the type of skills and activities which you enjoy and would like to be doing on a daily basis for at least several years.