Apr 19th 2021

Looking for a job? How to choose a career in 5 steps

You’re trying to decide how to choose a career. We have all been there. You have a thousand questions racing across your mind. 

“What career is going to make me happy?” 
“Which job pays the most?”
“What industry do I want to go into?”
“What am I passionate about?” 

On the surface, taking those first steps feels really daunting. But knowing how to choose your career is actually straightforward. You just need to have the right strategy in place, taking things one step at a time. Don’t worry if you’re feeling stuck, unsure, or confused. Here are five steps you can take to discover the right career for you. 

5 steps to choose a career 

Step 1: Assess yourself 

Before you make a big decision such as this, it’s a good idea to take time for self-reflection. It’s important to understand your range of skills and knowledge, so you can see if they’re a good fit for the job you’d like to do. This will also help you spot any skills gaps that you may need to fill in order to achieve your goals. 

First, make a list of all your transferable skills and technical skills, with examples of when you’ve demonstrated each. 

Next, consider where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Think about the following questions:

  • What soft skills and technical skills do you have? 
  • What are your interests, motivations, and values?
  • What kind of work-life balance do you want? 
  • What do you want from your career?
  • What experience do you have? Have a read here of how you can get a job with no work experience.

Step 2: Get networking

Whether you’re actively searching for a career, or just trying to get a sense of what path you should be on, networking is a great way to dip your toes in the waters. 

Richard Hutchinson, Recruitment Delivery Lead from Cityfibre, says to “get involved in Linkedin by engaging in conversations, sharing posts, and building your network. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people or a hiring manager.”

The more people you meet, the more insight you will get into what the work environment is like, what the people are like, and how they enjoy the work. And if you are looking to find work, then networking is a fantastic way to connect with future potential employers. A recent survey shows that about 85% of job offers are made through networking. 

Step 3:  Make a list of your options

Now that you understand a bit more about yourself and what you are looking for, start building out a long list of jobs that sound interesting to you – such as finding work in tech startups. If there’s a job you don’t know much about, write it down and research it later. 

Take this long list and cut it down to around five to ten career choices. The right job title doesn’t mean it’s the right job for you. Be sure to read the job description properly to see how your skills and goals align with it, ensuring it’s a role that you find interesting. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – you can always do extra courses or learn new skills to help you land your dream job. 

When shortlisting your choices, think about the advantages and disadvantages of each job in terms of: 

  • Career development 
  • Entry requirements 
  • Company culture 
  • Job description 
  • Salary expectations 
  • Learning and development 
  • Company values and mission 

Step 4: Use online tools 

We live in a working world today that is surrounded by technology to help you in your job search. Make the most of the innovative recruitment tools at your disposal. Platforms such as Tempo allow you to build a profile with all your skills, experience, and preferences to bring your CV to life. Our smart technology will instantly match you to relevant jobs and make it possible for companies to find you. By connecting you to the UK’s most exciting companies, you have a range of career opportunities available to you all in one place. 

To see for yourself, read here about how one of our candidates, Juno, was looking to change careers but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next. Through Tempo, she was able to dip her toe into a role through temp work at a fast-growing startup that ended up being her dream job. 

Step 5: Make a decision

Now you’re ready to start making decisions. Combine what you’ve learned about yourself with what you’ve discovered about your different options. Decide which opportunity interests you the most and select one or two as backups. To help you make this decision, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Will I enjoy doing the job every day?
  • Does it meet most of my preferences?
  • Do I have the right skills?
  • Does the company’s vision statement fit with my values?
  • Are there any location/financial/skills limitations that I need to take into account?
  • Is the job realistic in terms of salary range?

If you’re struggling to reach a decision, you can try listing the pros and cons of each job as well as applying SWOT analysis: 

  • Strengths – what skills, traits, certifications, and connections would you bring to the role that nobody else could? What makes you unique?
  • Weaknesses – what areas could you improve on? Do you lack any skills holding you back from excelling in the role you’d like to pursue?
  • Opportunities – is your industry growing? Could you take advantage of your competitors’ mistakes or gaps in the market?
  • Threats – could your weaknesses slow your progression at work? Is there anything else that may stand in the way of your development, such as changes in technology?

One thing you must remember is that you are not committed to one career for the rest of your life. In today’s working world, having multiple careers has become the norm. In fact, a recent study by London Business School showed that 47% of people look to change careers down the line. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to choose your career, making the right choice the first time around. Follow these steps and think to yourself that finding work is an adventure, you can always embark on a new path down the line.