Where to start

Not sure 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 understand what's important to you, and give you some ideas about where your career should head next.

What are my interests?

Knowing what your interests are can help you plan or change your career.  If you are able to find an environment that suits your interests, you are likely to be happier in what you do.

What are my values?

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.

What are my 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 examples of the skills you've learned in work and other areas of your life such as sport, community work and hobbies.

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 choose, or what course you should study.
  • Your commitments - sporting or community group activities could mean you have to be free at certain times, or you may have whānau commitments such as needing to look after or financially support family members.
  • Your career readiness - 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. 
  • Obstacles or challenges - maybe you feel your age is a barrier to moving into a new job, or maybe you live in a rural area where there are 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 your answers to questions like these can affect your career 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 what 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?

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 or teachers.
  • If you have a part-time job or you do volunteer work, think about asking your employer which parts of the job they think you do well.

Our career advisers are here to help you plan your career.

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.

Updated 24 Jan 2019