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Supporting Students & Graduates in developing and implementing career plans

Guide to Choosing a Career

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Step 1: Understanding yourself

Self-assessment is always the starting point for career planning. This involves finding answers to the following questions:

  • What am I good at? (Yours skills)
  • What interests me? (Your interests)
  • What motivates me? (Your values)
  • What do I have to offer an employer? (Your qualifications/experience)

Resources

There are many resources to help you in this process. Check out:

  • Finding your profile
    This section of the online resource Destinations® includes a number of self-assessment questionnaires to help you get a good picture of yourself.
  • Prospects planner
    This is a computer-based guidance tool designed for Higher Education students which can help you to clarify your ideas and suggests which types of jobs might suit you. Prospects Planner is available on the campus network. Select Start > Programs > Specialist Software > Career Guidance... Prospects Planner.
    A simpler version of Prospects Planner is also available on the Prospects website

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Step 2: Researching your options

Now that you have a good understanding of your interests, skills and values, you are in a position to explore various career options and relate them to your profile.

Firstly, you need to decide if you want to find a job, continue with your studies, or take time out before starting your career.

  • Find a job
    If your decision is to find employment, you need to generate a list of jobs that appeal to you and research these careers carefully.
     
    To generate a list of possible careers to match your profile, you can use Destinations®, or Prospects Planner.
     
    For details of upcoming Careers events to help you with your career planning and research, check out the Calendar of events.
     
    Don't miss the UL Careers Fair, a unique opportunity to meet 60+ potential employers on-campus.
     
    Find out about career options related to your degree at Using Your UL Degree
     
    For information on what other graduates have done with similar qualifications to yours, check out 'What UL Graduates Do', and the Prospects Web on how to 'Use your Subject'.
     
    There are also plenty of booklets available from the Careers Resource Area (E0019) to help you research your options.
  • Continue with your studies
    For all the information you need on post-graduate study, check out the postgraduate section of the website.
  • Take time out
    Explore the option of taking a year out after you graduate.

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Step 3: Making decisions

Now that you know more about yourself and the options open to you, you need to ask yourself the following questions in order to help you make your choice:

  • Which career option is most attractive to me?
  • What does the work involve?
  • What qualifications are required?
  • Do I have the appropriate set of skills?
  • Are there job opportunities in this area?
  • What are the promotional prospects?
  • If jobs are limited in this area, what are the related areas?

Based on your answers to these questions, and knowledge of your profile, you should now be able to draw up a short-list of your career options.

The next thing you need to consider is how you make decisions. If you have successfully made similar decisions in the past, the method you used then may apply to your present decision-making, too. Here are some useful resources on decision making:

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Step 4: Implementing your decisions

If you have decided on your preferred career options, you need to start planning and implementing a course of action to convert your choice into reality. Make a list of all the things you need to do, and allocate each a timeframe. Your list should include tasks such as compiling a CV, completing application forms, preparing cover letters, preparing for interviews and keeping records of applications. Check out the 'Applications & Interviews' section of this site to help you get started. Also, go through the Applications and Interviews sections of Destinations®.

Remember career plans are not rigid. They need to be monitored and reviewed regularly as circumstances change. Ask yourself:

  • Have I made progress with my applications?
  • Have events changed?
  • How do I feel about my current prospects?
  • Are there any other steps that I can take to achieve my objective?

Finally remember you are never alone. You can always contact the Careers Service for advice at any stage of your career planning process.

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Page last modified: April 13 2015. Any comments to webmaster. Disclaimer

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