Not Sure Where to Start? That's OK!
have always been quite lucky in a sense that I have known exactly what I
wanted to do in the future for my career. This may not seem like the
greatest achievement to brag about but I felt like this gave me a sense
of ambition and satisfaction as I was growing up and it also meant that I
didn’t feel lost at any point and not knowing which way to turn next.
will always remember an open evening I had to attend at school, to
consider which subjects I was going to choose to study at GCSE. The
careers adviser asked me what I had hoped to do and immediately, I
outlined the routes I was going to take (along with where I was going to
study), all the way up until retirement. Needless to say, he sat there
wide eyed and in disbelief about my plan.
For the most part, I have followed that plan but it hasn’t come without
its hiccups and a slight reshuffle where necessary. If like me you have a
plan, it’s important to still be flexible about executing this, as
sometimes, it just may not be possible for it to work as perfectly as it
may have first seemed.
Knowing what you would like to do for your future career and how you are
going to get there isn’t how it usually works though, so don’t worry if
you haven’t got a clue about which way you will turn next.
Through my experience as a careers adviser, many people don’t appear to
plan ahead in terms of their career goals and there are also many who
have no long-term career plan at all. For those who do plan their career
goals, it’s likely that they take a relatively short-term approach,
planning for two to three years in the future.
Whilst some people prefer to take each day as it comes, if you don’t
look ahead to the future and the career you would like to work towards,
you could find yourself stuck without a sense of direction, leaving you
hopping from one job to another until you find something in which you
feel satisfied with.
Moving around different job roles is becoming more and more common and
it can sometimes have its own benefits and add to your experience. With
each role and each organisation you work for, it can add tremendously to
your CV and help to shape your next move. However, with retirement ages
getting higher and higher, you deserve to be in a career which you are
happy with and is sustainable on a long-term basis. For this reason
alone, it’s important to have some structure or plan to help guide you
along the way.
In my current job as a careers adviser, I tend to find that there two
main groups of people when it comes to needing support in planning their
career. Some people have a main goal in mind but are unsure about the
routes they will need to take to achieve this. Others have an idea about
what they want to study (or have already gained qualifications) and are
unsure about the careers they can get into with those specific
Planning your career with a career in mind
you have a career in mind but are feeling unsure about which routes to
take, it can sometimes help to work your way back from your end goal. To
do this, it’s important to carry research about all of the possible
routes into the career you have in mind.
The National Careers Service website can be a useful resource in
researching different careers and the routes you can take to work
towards these goals. In this section of their website, you can find over
800 job profiles which provide you with information about the career
itself, how to get into this and possible progression routes.
Other useful websites which offer similar information on various other sectors include Prospects and the NHS.
Once you have the relevant information, you can start to consider the
best route for you, ensuring you make realistic decisions. So that you
are able to make a plan you can follow, try to consider your own
personal circumstances and look at the routes which are going to be
beneficial for you. For example, if you need to take a route which means
you are unable to work as many hours as you currently do, is there a
part-time study route you can take?
Planning without a specific career in mind
you are reading this and have no idea about the career you would like,
but have an idea about the sector you would like to work in, or would
like to do something with the qualifications you have already gained,
then stick with me. It can be confusing knowing which ways to turn – but
you are not alone.
To help you get started, you will find a section of career progression
maps on the NCFE website which can help you to identify different
careers you could go into based upon the qualifications you have
studied. The career progression maps can be a great way for you to
narrow down some of the options you can consider, if you are hoping to
go in a direction which is relevant to the qualifications you have. You
can find these on the following link;
If you narrow down some of your career
options through the maps but feel torn between a few of them, consider
gaining some work experience to help you decide on which route you may
enjoy the most. In some cases, you may not be able to get specific
voluntary experience, as you may need to be qualified in order to
practice (i.e. as a Nurse, Doctor, etc). However, you can find out about
the type of skills you would need and look for paid or voluntary
positions which can help you gain a further insight to this.
If volunteering is something which interests you as part of your career
planning process, you can look for various opportunities through
websites such as Do-It or vInspired. Alternatively, you could contact local employers in your area to find out if they can support you in gaining experience.
Career planning means thinking about the bigger picture while also being
prepared for slow-burning development. Be patient. Whilst things may
not seem so clear at first, with lots of research into the various
careers along with the possibility of getting into them through
different routes, it will soon start to make more sense.
Firstly, try to clarify your career objectives by identifying what you
are good at and what you enjoy or even by looking at the qualifications
you would like to build upon. Once you have established this, you can
then build upon these points to thrive in your career.
yourself what specific achievements you are proudest of, and which
elements of everyday work bring you the greatest satisfaction. There are
many people who find it difficult to reflect upon themselves in such a
way, so don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to remind you of tasks
you’ve talked about with enthusiasm. Your career objectives should
ideally centre around finding a role with similarly enjoyable and
Choosing your future career isn’t the easiest task in the world, so make
use of the wonderful resources available to you. Give yourself a chance
to make a difference and to be happy with what you do. Having job
satisfaction is one of the best feelings you can experience. Imagine
never getting the Monday blues again. Go and grab those opportunities
with both hands and inspire others to do so along the way.
Sarah Andrews is a qualified primary
teacher, currently working as an apprenticeship support adviser; helping
young people aged 16-24 secure apprenticeship positions. Sarah also has
8+ years of experience as a level 4 qualified careers adviser,
supporting both young people and adults to make well-informed, realistic
decisions to support them with their future ambitions. She is
enthusiastic about all things education and empowering people to achieve
things they thought were never possible.
This article was originally published by CACHEAlumni.org.uk, the professional membership network for those working in Care, Health and Early Years Education.
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