Choosing a career

Whether you are looking for your first job or want to change career, you should understand what type of person you are and what you want from your work and life. Spend time getting to know yourself and research different opportunities to help make the best decision for you.

Get to know yourself

Before looking at specific careers, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what motivates you as a person: what are your interests, skills, values and preferences? Once you’ve considered these, you can start building up a picture of your ideal job and then start exploring which careers match it most closely.

Review your interests

Looking at the broad areas of work that interest you is an important first step when planning your career or thinking of making changes to it. Take these interests into account when considering jobs or study. If you are able to find an environment that suits your interests, you are likely to be happier in what you do.

Review your values

Your personal values can play a part in your career decisions. Knowing what is important to you in a job can help you narrow down your career options. Finding a career that fits with your values can help you feel more satisfied in your work.

Review your skills

Working out what skills you have, then matching them to different jobs, can open up career options you may never have thought of.

Employers continually stress the increasing importance of communication, numeracy, ICT, improving self-learning and performance, working with others and problem solving skills. Think of what level of skill you have in each area and examples of these skills from your qualifications, training, employment, volunteering, or clubs and organisations that you belong to.

Consider what's important to you in a job

Before exploring your options it might be worth taking time to consider just exactly what it is you want from a job. Among the things to consider are location, salary and the job market. To help you in this, it might be useful to make a list of the essential and desirable features of your ideal job. An example might look like this:

  • involves dealing with people
  • close to home
  • will be earning at least £15,000
  • in the 'public' or ‘private’ sectors
  • opportunities to travel abroad
  • linked to a favourite subject you’ve studied

Use the career matching tools

You can use the career matching tools to match your interests, skills and values with careers. They are targeted at certain age groups so use the tool most relevant to your age.

If this is your first time using the tools then you will need to register by following the “register now” link at your chosen green button below. If you have already registered, use your details to login.

You will get a list of career suggestions based on what you like and/or what you are good at. You can also get career suggestions which match your current or anticipated qualification level.

The tools also allow you to explore suggested options by type of work, working hours, industry, your qualification level and average salary.

Help with career planning

Careers Service provides an impartial, all-age careers information, advice and guidance service throughout Northern Ireland. Talking to one of their careers advisers may help you focus on what you are looking for and also work out how to get where you want to be. 

Next steps

Once you have a good idea of the career you want, the next step is to research the specific skills and qualifications required for your chosen career and then decide how you are going to turn your career plan into reality.

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