Choosing between career options

Posted in: Career Choice

I've spoken to quite a few people recently who have said something on the lines of  'I'm considering career option x, but I'm also interested in option y; how do I know which is right for me?' If you're feeling this way you might find it helpful to have a 1:1 chat with a careers adviser, but here's a few thoughts on how to go about choosing between options.

1. Recognise that there isn't necessarily just one thing you would find satisfying and be good at, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to narrow things down to just one option. I suspect lots of us are suited to more than one thing.

2. Sometimes fear of making the 'wrong' decision can hold us back from making any decision. The nature of work is changing; it's much more common than it used to be to switch jobs/companies/sectors. Decisions can of course have consequences, but it's worth bearing in mind that any decision you make at this stage is unlikely to be catastrophic or irrevocable. We are constantly changing and developing as people, and our careers are influenced by externals factors such as economic conditions and personal and family circumstances, so even if you do have a fixed career plan at this point you might find that you have a different plan in a few months' or years' time.

3. Do you know enough about what you want from a job? Sometimes I've seen people struggle to decide between career options because they've tried to think too early about particular jobs they could do without having a broader sense of what their looking for from a career. What has motivated you from your course, work experience, extra curricular activities, or life in general? What day-to-day activities do you want to do as part of a job? What type of environment would suit you? Do you want to use your subject? Work in a particular geographical location? Have a good work-life balance? Our online guidance tools can help you answer some of these questions; as could a careers guidance appointment with one of our impartial, friendly careers advisers. Choosing between options can be easier if you have some criteria to weigh your options against.

4. Have you done enough research into the options you're considering? Are there any gaps in your knowledge and how can you fill these? Use our online careers resources and sites such as Prospects and Target Jobs to thoroughly research your options, and wherever you can, talk to people already doing the jobs you are interested in; use social media and Bath Connection to find Bath alumni contacts, and ask people what they actually do day-to-day and what are the best and worst things about their job. Check out any assumptions you have about what particular jobs or organisations are like.

5. Get some experience. This could be work shadowing, a summer internship, or a placement. Check out our Finding Working Experience Guide for more information and advice.

6. Work out your decision-making style. How have you made decisions about other aspects of your life and how could this help you in your career decision-making? Evaluative decision-makers like to engage in a process of self-reflection and identify long-term career goals. Strategic decision makers like to weigh up the pros and cons of options to reach a fixed solution. Opportunistic decision makers will seize opportunities when they come along.

7. Favourite resource alert! I really like this tool from Careers - in Theory by David Winter, which helps you to think through the similarities and differences between any career options you are researching and considering.

8. Take the wide-angle view. Where are you now and what would you like your life to look like in five years' time? Sure, we can't always know/predict/control these things, but sometimes having a longer-term 'vision' for your life or career can help provide clarity on short-term decisions.

9. Visualisation. This can be a helpful technique if you've done lots of research and are still finding it hard to decide between x and y. Imagine yourself in each situation. What is happening? Who else is there? How do you feel about it? Do you have any regrets about roads not taken?

For further help and resources, take a look at the Choose a Career section of our website.



Posted in: Career Choice


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