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Where to start

Not sure about what you want to do? Your first step is to understand who you are and what you want - both from your work and your life. Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to help decide on your next steps.

Who am I?

Whether you’re mid-career or still in study, you need to approach any career move in the same way. Your first step is to understand who you are and what you want - both from your work and your life.

Consider your interests, skills, values and qualities. You should also ask yourself:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I like to do in my spare time?
  • What have I achieved already?
  • What things am I passionate about?

Use our online quizzes and tools to help get started. They'll help you to understand what's important to you, and give you some ideas for where your career should head next.

You don't have to do all the activities, just those that seem most useful to you now. You can print off your answers, or save most of your results and information to our website.

Bink Bowler

"I’d ask anyone considering their first career move what their hobby is – what they like doing most. Then I’d recommend finding a job that ties into that hobby in some way."

Bink Bowler, Small Business Owner

    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. And 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.

    Think of broad areas of skills, and what level of skill you have in each area. Then try to think of examples of how you have used those skills at work, or in some other area of your life.

    Where am I?

    The people around you and your personal circumstances also play a part in your career choices. Being aware of this will help you in your decision-making.

    Things to consider include:

    • Family expectations - perhaps your parents or whānau have a strong opinion about what career you should pursue, or want you to follow a course that they think will make you the best person you can be.
    • Your commitments outside work - this could include anything from sporting or community group activities that mean you have to be free at certain times, to whānau commitments such as needing to look after or financially support family members.
    • Where you are in your career journey - if you’re just starting out, you may be willing to spend more time and effort on training or studying than if you’ve been working for 15 years already. Knowing where you're at, and what you're willing to commit, will help you with your career decisions.
    • Obstacles or challenges you might face - these may be big or small. Maybe you feel your age is a barrier to moving into a new job, or maybe you live in a rural area, so have fewer training or study options.

    Where do I want to be?

    Where do you see yourself in five years’ time, and beyond? What do you want to be doing, and what do you want to be like as a person? Knowing this can affect your choices, for example:

    • Do you want a job that earns you a lot of money?
    • Do you want a job that will allow you a certain amount of free time, so you can continue to take part in other activities?
    • Do you like being in charge, giving advice, or having people come to you for help?

    Thinking about the type of thing that you want to be doing will help you with your career ideas, but so will thinking about how you will get there. What’s involved in getting to the place that you want to go? Are you prepared to take the necessary steps to get there?

    For example, do you have the drive to devote yourself to a long training period? Can you afford to not be working while you study toward your goal? Can you put in the long hours needed to be successful in certain types of jobs?

    Where can I go for help?

    Once you’ve explored your own ideas about yourself, and narrowed down some career options, it’s good to talk through your thoughts with others. Bouncing your ideas off someone else can help things become clearer to you.

    Other people may also have some insights into your character or situation that you had not considered.

    • Talk to people who know you well and who you can trust. Ask them what they think are your strengths and skills. These may include family/whānau, friends, church leaders, teachers.
    • If you have a part-time job, or if you do volunteer work, think about asking your employer what parts of the job they think you do well.
    • These people may even have career suggestions based on what they know of you.

    Remember, you can revisit these steps at any time, as no career decision you make is ever permanent. You'll always have options, and as your life changes you may find that what you want from your career changes too.