What factors should I consider when deciding which career to pursue?

There’s one thing you need to know about above all before you choose (or change) your career: yourself. Until now, the chances are that you’ve never really had to sit down and look at the kind of person you are, but that is the crucial next step to help you make intelligent decisions about your future.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is what your values are. What’s important to you? What sparks and keeps your interest? What do you care about? Write down the answers and you’ll end up with a list that tells you a huge amount about what really matters to you, an indispensable document in deciding where to focus your energies in your working life.

Next, write down what you’re good at. Everybody has a talent for something. A career involves developing a huge range of skills, most of which you might not even have the beginnings of yet, but talents are what skills are built on. Your talents will often influence the direction you take your career in, because if you have a talent for doing something, you will have a headstart over others who are less gifted, and are likely to enjoy doing it more as well (enjoy it enough, and it won’t even feel like work at all!).

Thirdly, identify your preferences. Are you outgoing? Do you like being part of a team or are you happier working on your own? Do you make decisions on the basis of facts or by your intuition? What kind of tasks do you find most absorbing – physical, verbal, mathematical, creative, manual, organisational? List the tasks you have really enjoyed, whether it was organising a disco, volunteering at summer camp or delivering newspapers. These will give you key pointers to the kind of person you are and the kind of work that you’ll find most stimulating and rewarding. And the answers to each of these questions could open up new possibilities.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.