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Quick guide to decision making for careers

We all approach decision-making in different ways, and this can be influenced by various factors, such as our personality, how those around us make decisions, how confident we feel, how independent we are, the pressure we’re feeling, and the extent we feel destiny plays a part in life. Whichever is important to you, here is a quick guide to help you to discover what’s important to you and your future.

Where to start?

These are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you to understand more about yourself and your priorities. Note down your answers, thoughts and ideas.

What are your interests?

You may have hobbies/ subjects/activities that you love that you can turn into a job/ career. For example, you may be part of St John Ambulance or involved in sports with children and would like to explore where you can use aspects of this experience in a job/career.

What are your skills?

These are the things that you are good at, your strengths, skills and qualifications. Some examples are talking to people, working with others, working with numbers, building or designing things. These can be skills you have developed from your school/college subjects as well as personal skills and qualities that you have developed from your experiences such as work, hobbies and relationships.

In the past what have you enjoyed/liked?

Think back to experiences where you felt positive, this could have been whilst taking part in work experience, volunteering or a hobby. Think about where you were, who you were with and the skills you were using.

What do you value?

Think about things that are important to you. Some examples are work, family, money, being active, the environment you work in, feeling secure in a career.

What motivates you?

These are the things that encourage you to get involved, that you feel enthusiastic about. Examples could be helping others, earning money, learning or doing something you enjoy.

No idea at all?

If you are struggling to answer these questions you could ask people who know you well to help you. It might also be a good idea to take a step back and use some software to help you to get started – this could help you to identify your skills and give you some ideas to research. You might then want to discuss these with a careers adviser.

Below are some websites that might help you generate some ideas:

Try out Career coach which you can access via the Derby College website, click on Careers and Courses and then career coach. Some things that might be stopping you from making career decisions and how to overcome them.

I’m not 100% sure /feel pressurised to make a “forever career” decision.

It is very difficult to be 100% sure about anything, most things that you do in life require you to take a bit of a risk. You may research your options and really like the idea of some of them but until you are in them you will not have all the information or know 100% that it is right. Talk to others, such as a careers adviser to help you to feel more secure with your choices. Instead of choosing one career for life, you might change jobs and career direction several time – so see this decision as a positive step towards future opportunities rather than a “forever career” decision.

My parents/family do not want me do make this choice.

It can very difficult if your aspirations are different to your parents/family. It may help to put together a plan of actions that you can take, to help others feel better about your decisions. This could include showing them that you have researched your choice thoroughly – an example of this could be looking at labour market information for your choice (this will include information about the sector that interests you, an idea of how many jobs will be available over the next few years and earning potential). You could also show them your pathway (how to get there) to your intended career. This will help to show that you have clearly thought through your choice and could help to alleviate their concerns.

I feel that I am taking a bit of a risk with this choice.

You may need to do more research to ensure you feel a bit more confident in your choice. This could also include taking part in a taster or getting some work experience or work shadowing to confirm your ideas.

I am anxious about starting a course/apprenticeship/job

Remember that you have achieved the qualifications to move to these options and you may have had a successful interview showcasing your skills and qualities, so you are already successful- focus on the positive. The more informed you are about your choice the more confident you will feel, so research as much as you can. It is natural to feel nervous and if you do find that you make a decision and it doesn’t work for you, you can reflect on the experience and look at moving to something else. Life is full of difficult situations; these enable us to learn how to problem solve and develop resilience.

Peer pressure to do the same thing.

It can be hard not to compare yourself to others and be persuaded to follow the same path to “fit in” with your peer group. It is important to understand that your ideas and thoughts about developing your own career are individual to you – talking your ideas over with someone, for example a careers adviser, will help you to feel more confident in your own decisions.

Your next steps

You’ve now explored what’s important to you and what you enjoy, you need to think about the options/pathways available to you. These options could include further study, an apprenticeship, a gap year, a full-time job or self-employment.

For each option/pathway you can ask yourself some questions (note down your answers): –

What things have I found out about this option that I didn’t already know?

What are the things I like best about this option?

What are the things I dislike about this option?

What would this option give me in the short term (1 year) and in the long term (5 years)?

How likely am I going to research this option further? (1 -not likely 5- very likely)

Once you have an idea of the options that interest you it is time to carry out some in depth research. Why not look at our “Quick guide to researching your career ideas” for some ideas.