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How to … Research career ideas

Researching career ideas

Researching career ideas can take time, you will need to consider what it is that you want to find out about a career and possibly relate it back to what you know about yourself. Particularly your skills, interests, values and goals. You might want to consider researching careers related to:

  • The subjects you already know you enjoy
  • The subjects/course you are considering in the future
  • Skills and interests you already have
  • Skills you want to develop

You may already have a career idea which you’ve had for some time or you may still be very unsure, making a shortlist of preferred options can be a useful strategy. Remember there is rarely just one perfect career, there will be a range of jobs and careers that will suit you and most of us will change careers at least once in our life. If you are still struggling to identify career ideas that you want to find out more about refer to our Quick Guide to decision making for careers.

Researching careers information can help you with weighing-up the advantages and disadvantages of different options, which can assist your decision making. It will also help you to identify typical skills, qualifications and experience required in different careers and may even alert you to careers you weren’t aware of.

You can research careers in several ways:

  • Conducting research online
  • Speaking to people who work in the field
  • Finding out what people who studied a similar course have gone onto
  • Attending Careers Events

Researching Occupational Information.

Once you have a short list of careers that you are interested in. It’s a good idea to find out more about these careers, websites like the National careers service can help you with occupational information about jobs/careers including:

  • Typical tasks involved in the role
  • Entry routes into the work sector and possible career paths
  • Personal requirements/skills required for people working in that role.
  • Labour market information and how much you might get paid in the job
  • Similar/related jobs/careers
  • Other related information resources, such as professional associations and further reading

Researching careers information in this way can help you make an informed choice about jobs you are interested in, rather than making decisions on what you think a job involves (which may be incomplete or inaccurate)

You might also want to research some job families these are groupings of jobs that have similarities in that they require similar knowledge, skills and abilities. This can broaden your career ideas. Websites that might help you explore job families/career sectors in more detail include:

Researching careers related to your course

You might want to research careers particularly related to the course you are studying or intend to study or find out more about the destinations of students who have studied a similar course, in other words what have they progressed onto. This might include looking ahead and looking at what students have gone onto do after certain university degrees. So for example you might be considering studying either a BTEC in Media or an A level in Media because you enjoy the subject and want to know more about the careers that might be available if you study this subject at university. Websites that can help with this type of research include:

Work Experience/Work Shadowing and Volunteering

Work experience or work shadowing i.e. observing someone while they work can be a brilliant way to get an insight into a job and company. If you have an idea as to the sort of job, you’d like to do why not volunteer to take part in a work taster. Work experience will look great on your CV and/or university application and give you a better idea as to whether you’d enjoy your chosen career. Speak to someone in the college work placement team to find out more about what support they can give to help you get work experience while at college. has a useful guide to work experience.

Volunteering can also be a useful way to get an insight into an area of work and there are lots of volunteering opportunities and programmes available across the UK, whether you are interested in conservation, childcare, counselling, social media, animal care etc there could be an opportunity to get some hands on experience which also might help confirm for you if this type of job is what you want in the future.

Sometimes you can only truly get a feel for whether a certain job is for you by trying it out. As well as helping you decide if a career suits you, volunteering and work experience might also be key in helping you progress into the career/course that you want in the future.

Research Industry Information and emerging Careers.

After identifying a few careers that are of interest, you might want to look at which industries you would like to work in. Are you interested in working within a specific industry or field for instance do you have an interest in working for the public or private sector? Do the careers that interest you allow you to work in either? Do you want to work locally if so, are there opportunities in the types of careers that interest you in the local area?

Things change quickly and careers information doesn’t always cover every possible career option so another good way to find out about careers is to look at job websites and speak to employers. Identifying sectors where there is growth and the possibility of jobs can be useful. As well as researching a career you may want to look at what issues that career area is facing and what the future may hold. You can sometimes get this information from employers’ websites, BBC Business News, trade and professional organisations.

Chat to Employers and others who can give you information on a career.

Speak to company representatives at events like career fairs, use your networks, talk to family and friends and friends of family and friends! Talk to teachers, careers advisers anyone who might be able to give you a little more information about the careers you are thinking about. Don’t be afraid to ask for information.

Researching Career Options using Social Media.

Using Social Media and networking sources can help you research your career idea and the job market. They can give you a more personal view of what’s happening in sectors, as well as providing you with the information in an easily accessible format.

For example you could use LinkedIn, if you have a short list of occupations or organisations that you are interested in, try searching for these in the Advanced search option to see if anyone in your network works in these roles or companies. You can then connect with them to find out more information about their jobs, industry or companies by reading their linked in profile.

On LinkedIn and Facebook, you can join groups or pages that are related to your interests and “like” the companies that you’re interested in.

YouTube is not just about music videos; it is the second largest search engine and a great way to get insights into what it is like working in different companies.

Blog is short for web blog, a website containing a set of entries (posts) written by someone on topics that interest them. Blogs again can be a good way to get an insight into a career area or company. To find useful blogs just Google the name of the company or career area you are interested in e.g. architect+blog.

Remember it is important to find the most relevant and reliable information when researching careers information. Always check dates; things get posted and websites get created, but then may not be updated, compare information with other reliable sources – if it’s saying something completely different or contradictory to a reliable source then treat with caution. Be cautious with blogs, wikis, web forums, social network sites, because while you can often pick up some useful information, opinion can be passed off as ‘fact’.