- Know yourself – what are your strengths, values, interests, and ambitions? What motivates you? What skills, qualifications, and experience do you have, what are you good at, and what are you interested in? What can you do already and what would you like to do next?
- Write down as many things that you can about what you do or don’t want from a job or placement, highlight what’s essential, nice to have, or what you can’t compromise on, to get a sense of your priorities. Think about the following:
- Location and travel
- Salary - plan your finances
- Time commitment
- Any career areas/job roles you're interested in
- Skills development and career progression opportunities
- Working conditions
- Your circumstances
- What's important to you in a job or placement
- Have a back-up plan
- Look at career websites to browse some job profiles and real life experiences from people doing the jobs you may be interested in.
- Get a sense of what’s available, check out some job sites to find out what sort of people they’re looking for. Investigate the sectors and career areas with the most opportunities, get familiar with the jargon, and identify the most common skills employers are looking for.
- Talk about your ideas with your family and friends and get advice from careers staff at your school, university, or college. It can be helpful to get another view when considering your choices and getting ready to make those applications.
- Be open to new possibilities – inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. All you have to do is keep an open mind and reflect on what really appeals to you.
- Get it down to a shortlist – the type of job roles you want, why you want them, and why they’re right for you
- Set out what you have to offer – map your skills and qualities, work background, qualifications, achievements, interests, and career plans to the job roles you want and what employers are looking for. It’s about selling your skills and experience and showing them you’re the right person for the job, so keep it relevant and give examples specific to what the employer wants to know.
- Do your research – it’s really worth spending time swotting up on the industries and employers offering the job roles you’re interested in. Understand the terminology you might come across in interviews, show you’re informed about where the business or sector is going, and know about the key issues the industry is facing.
- Give it a go – the only way you’re really going to know if you like something is to try it – so consider volunteering, internships, work experience, or temping to explore your options and gain relevant skills and experience at the same time.
GETTING STARTED – ten tips to get focused on making the right choice for you
By Rebecca Bale