Making career decisions
Follow four stages
Shape your future career with confidence and clarity. While choosing a career path can feel overwhelming, having a well-thought-out plan can make all the difference.
Consider various factors and take the time to explore your options. Remember, this decision is significant, so dedicate ample time and effort to it. Start building your career roadmap today – it's never too early to start shaping your future.
Take control of your career planning with the DOTS Model (Law & Watts, 1977, 1996). Simplify the process and make it manageable by following these four key steps:
How to find fulfilling work
1. Self awareness
Uncover your strengths, interests, values, and qualities to find your ideal career fit. Assess yourself to understand what matters to you and determine if a job aligns with your preferences. Consider the work environment you desire, whether it's self employment or working for a company that attracts you.
Seek honest opinions from friends, family, colleagues, or lecturers to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Take an online skills assessment in our What Employers Want section for valuable insights into your abilities. Discover the top competencies sought by employers and see how you measure up.
2. Opportunity awareness
Explore the vast array of opportunities by conducting research. Start with the comprehensive information available on the Prospects. Engage in career conversations with your network, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, and attend events and Careers Fairs.
Investigate the necessary training, qualifications, and skills for your desired roles. Analyse job vacancies and person specifications to identify areas for improvement. Stay open-minded and consider diverse options, leveraging the transferable skills you've gained during your degree. Thinking outside your specific subject area can unlock a wider range of opportunities.
3. Decision making
Making decisions can be challenging, but with practice, you can develop this skill. While you never have all the information you would like, conduct thorough research and use self-assessment to make the best decision possible. Start by gathering your research, analyse the findings, and weigh up the pros and cons.
Try using decision-making tools like Pugh's Decision Matrix.
For each career, list criteria that is important to you for each option and assign scores to rank them logically.
Visualisation can also help if you're a visual person or prefer to follow your gut feelings. Imagine yourself in a specific role, noting your senses and how it makes you feel.
If you still need guidance, book an appointment with a careers adviser for in-depth discussions about your decision.
Now, let's get realistic and set measurable actions to move forward. Identify what you need, like work experience or a specific qualification, and set a target date. It's wise to have a backup plan and explore multiple options in case things change.
Embrace the unexpected! Career paths are rarely linear. Adapt to a changing labour market and stay open to new opportunities. Consider Planned Happenstance Theory, which encourages you to seize chance occurrences that can shape your career journey. Stay curious, flexible, and optimistic. Attending events, volunteering, and networking can lead to valuable connections and opportunities.
You may also want to explore Chaos Theory, which is a similar approach. Chaos Theory acknowledges that careers are complex and unpredictable, successfully navigating your career involves being adaptable and having the resilience to deal with unexpected changes.
- Engage in university activities and join student organisations like the Students' Union or Enactus
- Check out events on Advantage
- Attend course-related conferences.
- Seek internships and placements
- Utilise LinkedIn for networking and industry research.
- Pursue opportunities to develop new skills.
Planned happenstance applies to all careers, especially those involving self-promotion and networking, such as the creative industries. Embrace the unpredictable and make the most of every opportunity.
Mitchell, K. Levin, A. and Krumboltz, J. (1999) Planned Happenstance: Constructing Unexpected Career Opportunities. Journal of Counseling and Development, Volume 77.
- Explore various career theories, models, and tools with Career Theories A-Z.
- Discover your ideal career matches with the TARGETjobs Careers Report, which assesses your interests, strengths, personality, and abilities.
- Uncover your personality type with 16 Personalities.
- Find out What can I do with my degree?
- Gain insights with Prospects: Choosing a Career.
- Check out the Brilliant Graduate Career Handbook by Judith Done.
- Get guidance with Dude, where's my career? by Tanya da Grunwald.