A guide to choosing your career path

If you talk to anybody who has been in their industry a long time, they’ll probably tell you they never expected to end up where they are now. The truth is, many people starting out in their careers don’t know exactly where they want to be in ten years’ time – and that’s ok.

It can often seem like you have too many options when it comes to choosing your career path. Luckily, we’ve got your back and have come up with a guide of how to approach this seemingly scary life decision.

Trust your instincts

Trusting your instincts might sound like an odd piece of advice. However, this is necessary to kick starting a career which you’ll be happy in. There are many factors which contribute to choosing a career path. But ultimately, it needs to be something which suits your personality and values.

Think about what makes you tick. If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, then comprehensive career tests which match your personality traits to certain occupations are a good place to start.

Alternatively, check out your local job centre and seek the advice of experts. They’ll talk you through choosing your career path and maybe even point you in the direction of companies looking to hire.

Get organised

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, it’s time to get organised. You’ve probably highlighted several fields that you might want to work in but can’t decide which most appeals to you.

We’d recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep track of careers you’ve investigated. You can rank these career paths depending on how well-suited you are to them and how much they excite you.

On this spreadsheet, you can also include bits of information which stand out about the jobs you’ve found. For example:

  • The values behind the organisation
  • The progression
  • The lifestyle that goes with it
  • How closely it matches your personality

Be realistic about these options. If you lack the relevant education qualifications or many of the soft skills required, then cross these career paths off your list.

Be proactive

So you’ve made a beautiful, colour-coordinated spreadsheet and have selected a few potential career paths to explore (ideally no more than five, maximum). But how do you go about taking the next step forward?

The regrettable truth is, nobody is going to just hand you a job. However, we’re surrounded by friends and family who probably all have jobs of some description. It’s worth asking around to see if you can land yourself some work experience in a field that you’re interested in.

Alternatively, teachers and careers advisors are paid to help you find work experience. Make use of them as resources as well. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and they’ll be more likely to supply you with a great lead.

If you complete your work experience and end up deciding that it isn’t quite right for you, all is not lost. This will have helped you to narrow down your search and work experience will bolster a CV by demonstrating a strong work ethos.

Keep your CV updated

Even if you’re on every recruitment platform going, you can’t show the best side of yourself if you don’t keep on top of updating your CV. Add your achievements as they happen. Whether this means adding in an internship you completed or a lifeguard qualification, it will help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s not uncommon for potential employers to reach out on these platforms. This could make choosing a career path a whole lot easier for you!

It’s time to decide on your career path

You’ve assessed your options and have decided what direction you’re going to go in – congratulations! It’s not an easy decision to make.

Now that you’ve succeeded at choosing your career path, you should identify your goals. These can be long and short term. For example, a short-term goal could mean obtaining a qualification. A long-term goal like achieving a higher salary bracket may take years to complete and could require several short-term objectives.

In order to keep your goals in mind and put yourself on the right track, set out a career ‘action plan’. This should include all the steps necessary to put you on the right trajectory for your dream job. Remember that this will only work if you stick to it!

Setting ‘SMART’ goals is an efficient way to make your action plan:

  • Specific. Identify a specific outcome that you want to achieve
  • Measurement. How will you know when you’ve done it?
  • Achievable. Do you have enough time to complete it and are you willing to try?
  • Relevant. Does it closely tie in with your targets for your career?
  • Time. When will you complete it by?

Once you’re settled on your career path, kick-start your job search with CV-Library!

Content team

About Content team

Our team of career experts are committed to helping your job search and ensuring you get the most from your career.

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