Choosing a Career at this National Careers Week

Author Claire Gourley - NI Operations Manager

For most of my life, working in recruitment for over 28 years, seeing people look for career changes in their later life has become a regular occurrence. Which made me understand that many young people, when leaving education, aren't getting the guidance they need. To choose a career path that, not only would they enjoy, but also builds upon their natural strengths and personality traits.

Because, when we think about it, we are asking 16-year-olds to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives, at an age where a lot of people don't even understand themselves, never mind what future career they want. That's why for national careers week I wanted to write this blog to offer my options on what to do if you are a student struggling to decide on a career.

Choosing your career

The primary factor behind many students' career choices is money, a lot of people have the misconception that the only reason people work is for money so why not go for the career that gives you the best chance of becoming rich? So what is the problem with this type of thinking?

  • High paying roles will have extremely high competition
  • You will be working 40 plus hour weeks regularly
  • You will have to sacrifice a lot of other things in your life

For these 3 reasons, if you want to do a job that will make you rich, it has to be something you have your heart set on.

So besides money, what can we look at to help you find a job you'll love? Before you start looking at college, university or apprenticeship courses, you need to consider the following:

What subjects do you enjoy and why?
On average you spend 1/3 of your life working so when you do finally enter the workplace, you want to find something you will enjoy.

Once you've identified the subjects you love the most, ask yourself why? What subject do you enjoy? Do you like maths because you love working with numbers? Or is it because you love problem-solving? Do you like Geography because science fascinates you? Or is it learning about Geo-politics? Or what about travel?

What are your strengths?
Once you have identified what you enjoy. I recommended sitting down with a parent, friend or teacher to discuss what you're good at, it can be important to do this with another person because you may find that you underestimate your ability and the person you're with may notice you're a lot better at something then you think.

Once you've highlighted your strengths, look at how they match your interests. You should find your interests and strengths to be quite similar, as we are naturally more interested in what we are good at.

What are your personality traits?
Once you've highlighted your strengths and interests, time to look at your personality, this can be important to find a work environment you'll fit more comfortability in. For example, do you consider yourself an extrovert? In that case, data science may not be the role for you. However, if you're an introvert, a career in sales may not be the best move.

There are thousands of personality tests online to help you find out what working environment is best for you.

Do some research
Once you have found out your strengths, interests and personality type. It's time to start searching the web for roles that fit these 3 key areas. Once you have found a role that might interest you, time to start looking at what you need to do to enter that field. What qualifications will you need? What will be expected of you? What is the average salary? Is that something you'll be ok with? What's the current supply and demand for that role? Is the supply/demand predicted to change? Will automation have an impact on your career path?

At the end of this process, you should have a few options to start exploring for potential career paths. I like using 16 personalities which provides you with a full breakdown of your personality traits and strengths and weakness within.

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide has, at least, helped set you on the right path to finding your dream role. However, I just wanted to conclude this blog with one more important note. Don't fear getting it wrong, you'll never know what new things you'll discover about yourself in the future.

Take it from me, with over 28 years experience in recruitment I have seen many people move careers with ease and find the role they love, what you decide now won't define you forever. If you're struggling to find the right career, sometimes it's best to just give some things a try and see where it takes you, I worked in hospitality, then travelled before I ‘tired’ recruitment and here I am. It’s still never too late to try something new either.