Identify your career options
How to research employers, self-assessment techniques and view career resources for your area of study.
Career resources by faculty
Assessing your values and interests
A clear understanding of how your individual values and interests relate to your career goes a long way towards a satisfying working life. This level of self-awareness will help you choose work that is a good fit with your values and interests. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to achieve in work? How will my principles affect my working environment? (values)
- What specific things motivate me? Which area(s) of the workforce do I see myself making a valuable contribution? (interests)
- TypeFocus Personality Type Profile
- MU Career Centre Career Interest Game
This game from the University of Missouri will help you work out how your personality might fit with specific work environments and careers.
- Your career and you
This series of exercises are designed to give you a clear understanding of your skills and attributes.
Researching jobs and occupations
Here are a few ideas to get you started with gathering information about your career choice:
A decision-making process
Gather information on your options and yourself
Examine the information and resources you already have. Seek out new information to fill any gaps. Develop a real understanding of yourself - what are your skills, interests, values, personal qualities, strengths and weaknesses? For ideas on how to do this, see:
Use one or more of the evaluation techniques described below. If it helps, discuss your options with another person or a Career Development Consultant.
Select one of the options
Based on the information you have gathered and analysed, select the best option. If you do not have enough information to choose one option over another, you may need to do more research. You may wish to identify your best alternatives too: your plan A, B and C.
Make a plan and implement the decision
Identify what information or resources you need to follow through on your decision. Identify possible obstacles to implementing your decision and plan to overcome them. Try not to worry about your decision: if you have fully assessed the situation and all possible outcomes, you have nothing to fear. Whichever option you take, there will be benefits: new experiences, opportunities to find out more about who you are and what you want.
Review the decision
Reflect on how you made your decision and how successful the outcome was. Think about how you can use what you learned when making future decisions.
Talk to a Career Development Consultant for help with any part of this process.
Option evaluation techniques
Pros and cons method
- Consider all the information you have gathered about your options and yourself.
- Write down all the reasons you can think of in favour of a particular option (pro).
- Write down all the reasons against that option (con).
- Assign a score to each reason (pro and con) on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the strongest.
- Add up the scores and compare the results.
- If the cons win, make a list of alternatives to the decision. One of those may jump out as the preferred option. Otherwise, you can then repeat the exercise for each alternative.
Start by thinking about your values, what's most important to you in your life and in work. Do you want to spend time helping others, developing expertise, making money, working in a team etc? Career Development and Employment Services can help you identify your values through a range of activities. Then, measure your options against your values. Which option(s) will most closely match your values?
"What If…" approach
Imagine that you have decided on one of the options before you. Work through the option (e.g. "What if I decided to do post graduate study?"), imagine you have taken that decision and imagine the consequences.
How do you feel about that decision? Do you feel excited, relieved, regretful, happy, sad? Is your body tense, relaxed? You could rank each response on a 1-5 scale to indicate how significant they are to you. Then imagine that you have decided on one of the other options and imagine the consequences. Our feelings can give us strong clues about which decision is right for us.
A career is an evolving process, and in our rapidly changing world an ability to be flexible about decisions and positive about uncertainty are valuable skills. This approach encourages you to accept that uncertainty is real and a positive part of decision-making. Becoming too focused on a particular decision early on can prevent you from seeing other possibilities.
A way to use this approach is to divide a sheet of paper into four quarters with headings:
- Short-Term Positive
- Short-Term Negative
- Long-Term Positive
- Long-Term Negative
For each option you are considering write down all the possible outcomes you can think of under each heading, however unlikely they may be. Then ask yourself, "'What else could I do and what else could happen?".