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How to make a career decision

Making decisions about your career doesn’t always have to be complicated. If you have spent time getting to know yourself and researching different opportunities, you should be able to make a sound decision.

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Call us on 0800 222 733

Your individual situation has a big impact on the opportunities that you can take up, so start by taking stock of all the aspects of your life that affect your decision. 

Compare your options

If you're choosing between several options, take a look at each one and ask yourself:

  • How well does this option fit with my skills, values, personality and interests?
  • Will this option help me develop my skills?
  • How will this option affect the rest of my life? My family, friends, interests and other time commitments?

Make a list of pros and cons for each of the option, then rank each item on your list based on how important it is. Use our worksheet to help keep track of your thoughts.

Try out each option in your mind. How do you feel about the decision? Excited, uneasy, happy, sad, relieved? Also consider how others will respond to your choice.

Ask for help and advice from other people

Talking to other people about what option might be best can help you see things in a new light. Perhaps they may have an idea that will change how you look at your possibilities. If it is someone close to you, your decision may also impact on them, so it's important to take their feelings into account.

People you could talk to include:

  • your family
  • friends - they may have been in a similar situation, and can tell you about what affected their choices
  • a school career adviser or a career consultant
  • course advisers at universities and polytechs
  • people working in the job or industry you are considering - they may help you get a better idea of whether you're right for the role.
Nick Arnst

"I talked to a horticultural consultant about whether it would be better to do a horticulture degree or a diploma. I decided on a degree, because that could lead into orchard management, rather than just orchard work."

Nick Arnst, Horticulture Student

What if you're still not certain?

You may have a couple of options that you just can't choose between. You may not have to. Maybe you can do one now, and one later.

You could also consider how each choice will affect your options in the future. One option may hold more possibilities than another. Many types of training can lead to a variety of careers. For example, management studies may lead to jobs in accounting, economics, computing, marketing or project management.

Or, if you're choosing between jobs, consider what opportunities you will have to progress in each job. Which has the best possibilities for your future?

What if nothing seems right?

Sometimes you may look at all of your options, and find that though they're all good opportunities, none is right for you. That's okay too - there are more possibilities out there. Take another look, you may just see something that would be a better fit.

Updated 6 Jul 2015