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Career Planning & Employability

Planning your Career

So you don’t know what to do after your degree? You have chatted with a few of your friends, they seem to know what they want. You had an awkward conversation with a family member, who asked, “Didn’t you know when you chose your degree?” The truth is you were never certain and why should you be? After all, there are rather a lot of options out there!

Deciding your career plans after University can be confusing. You may be someone who has clear plans right now, but in the future, you may need to reassess your options. For example, the job market, your circumstances or your skills and attitudes change.

Career planning is a skill like any other that needs practise and reflection and can be used throughout your career. “I should know what I want to do!” and “I just don’t know where to start!” are common comments.  Some people do seem to instinctively know what they want, but for the majority, the process of working out realistic career plans takes time and effort. Careers Advisers can help you to get started and reflect on your career planning, but there are many things that you can do to get started.

Try something new! Work experience and volunteering are not only useful to include in your CV, but they also give you information or “data” about the tasks, culture and skills that you enjoyed or excelled in. It’s important to give things a go, but if it doesn’t work out the experience has at least given you data about things that you didn’t like. Think of it a bit like a jigsaw, new experiences positive and negative may help you to start the picture of what your ideal job looks like.

Do you like quizzes and tests? There are many psychometric tests and careers matching programmes out there. MBTI is useful to help you reflect on your personality type and Prospects offer “Career Planner” that asks you questions about your interests and offers a list of career matches. Trying these for some may be that first step that generates thoughts and ideas.

Know yourself. Shopping is an everyday example of decision making, is there anyone you find difficult to shop with as their approach is different? Some browse a lot (research), some work out what they want before shopping (reflection), some shop online (preference) while others must-see in person (experience). Thinking about your unique approach to decision making and other big decisions you have worked through can help. These reflections on past experiences may contain clues about how you should approach your career planning. If you are looking to gain an insight into theories on career decision making, try searching DOTS Model (Laws and Watts), Planned Happenstance (Krumboltz) or Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor and Bright). Which approach is most like you?

Influence. Are you someone who asks for advice a lot when faced with big decisions? Consider how you are influenced by advice from others. It’s useful to take in the views of others and it can certainly help to gain insights, information and perspectives you have not considered. However, too many conflicting views or bias in the advice offered can be confusing. Careers advisers are impartial and confidential, helping you to work through your decisions and plans.

Time. 3000 hours spent studying your degree but only 3 hours of career planning? It’s tempting to think you should just know what to do, but reflection and research all take time. Prospects “Job Sectors” are great articles on how you get into many of the most common graduate jobs. These articles include qualifications, skills, job search websites and links to similar careers.

Reflection, discussion, research and experience can really help focus and provide your first steps to planning your career.

Next month “resilience”. What happens if things don’t go as you expect?

Lee Houghton-Careers Consultant- July 2020

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