It’s easy to think that a career is a huge decision because it’s for the rest of your life, but unless you have plans to commit to one clear path as a vet, a doctor, a nurse or to take on the family business, the chances are that – like the rest of us – you will have a varied journey ahead of you, influenced initially perhaps by your parents/carers and teachers.

So, when we talk about careers, we’re really talking about the next few years – whether you want to go to Uni and then look for a graduate job, whether you’d prefer an apprenticeship and at what level, whether you’d like to go straight out to work at 18 (or even at 21) – and what you see yourself doing initially.

At Careersnearhere, we don’t offer personal advice and guidance, but we can signpost you to sources of help. And here is a guide so you can make a start in getting the support you need.

Careers Test

A careers test is a series of questions to help you work out your key strengths and personality type – some also routinely produce a list of possible careers for you. They are generally very simple questions such as whether you prefer to work alone or with others. And the end result is anything from a paragraph to a full report describing your dominant character traits – for example, are you an extrovert, intuitive, caring and/or highly flexible?

We have listed several of the main careers test websites on an information page at the bottom of the Careersnearhere website, so take a look and see which ones you might like to try. The dominant character traits will help you construct a list of Key Skills list when writing your CV and the list of possible careers will help when exploring in more depth.

These tests vary in complexity, taking anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour to complete, they can be on paper or online and they can be done independently or with the support of a professional careers adviser.

Careers Adviser

There’s no substitute for a personal consultation with a professional careers adviser and there are qualified advisers locally, such as New Mango in Bristol, who specialise in working with young people and are registered professionals with the Careers Development Institute. There are also advisers at t2 group and Post 16 careers staff at UWE who are able to come into schools and colleges to deliver independent advice and guidance.

And there will also be staff already employed in your school/college/Uni who are responsible for the careers provision and we would strongly encourage you to make time to see them at least once before making any major decisions about your future pathways.

Careers Advice and Guidance online

If you have a reason not to meet with a careers adviser in person there are always advice and guidance websites such as the National Careers Service and Careerpilot. Some offer webchat or telephone advice whilst others showcase different career sectors perhaps with video interviews to help inspire you.

Ask others

Some weeks ago, we posted a blog called the Power of the Parent and we remain adamant that parents/carers will have a huge influence on our decisions in life. It may be, for example, that you are considering banking or accountancy because your father works in finance and has discussed it at home?

However, your choice of possible career may also be because you have a good friend, or friend of a friend, in a particular industry that you can talk to about a career because they are working in that sector themselves. Whoever it is, take advantage of the opportunity and don’t be afraid to ask – they were in your shoes once and will remember what it was like.

Another opportunity is to find out your key strengths by asking those around you – the ones who know you best. The longer they’ve known you and the wiser they are about the world of work, the better they will be at helping make suggestions about what you might do. But even if you are not happy with their ideas, they will have still observed your key achievements and that will be extremely helpful when writing your CV.

Explore Career Sectors

One of the bonus features of the Careersnearhere website is that the images of local career sectors can be useful to anyone thinking what they might like to do next in life. If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look through the images and/or lists of local career sectors to see what appeals most; then take that early idea and use it to help direct your more detailed search. If you settle on the military, for example, there are specialist websites for the forces with overviews of the huge variety of roles available – worth a look.

Look for Inspiration

Still with Careersnearhere, why not take a look at the Inspiration noticeboard in the careers room(s) of interest to you? On there, you can explore local open days, talks, workshops and events relevant to the career sector you are considering. And there’s more on the Multi-sector noticeboard as well. By getting along to these events, you will gain a better understanding of the type of industry and have a chance to talk with those already involved in the sector. This could really help you in making up your mind about what you want to explore further.

Find experience of work

Once you have attended a relevant workshop you might want to look for a volunteering opportunity or work experience. If you later decide to apply for a job or academic course in this industry, you will be glad of the relevant value added by this experience. In the meantime, it will allow you a more immersive opportunity to decide if it is right for you or not. Take a look for local opportunities to fill your CV and personal statement on the websites of local volunteering organisations and on our Experience noticeboards.

Research Uni courses

And if you are considering an academic pathway, this is a great opportunity to look for relevant Uni courses. These are on the UCAS-Search website amongst others, and we’ve covered this in detail in recent blogs.

Apprenticeship adverts

Another way to discover some of the options available to you could be to explore available apprenticeship vacancies. Even if you are not considering an apprenticeship route, they will give you an indication of the sort of opportunities available and the variety of local employers. The apprenticeships on Careersnearhere are all local to the Bristol and Bath postcode areas. But if you are interested in further afield, you can also explore opportunities elsewhere in the country on the national Find an Apprenticeship website.

And finally, …

One of the simplest ways to think about a future career is to consider what would – and wouldn’t – make you get up early in the morning? If someone said there was a chance to take a look under the bonnet of a car at 5am, would you be up and ready to go? If there was an opportunity to be out in the fields working with a farmer, would you be up, dressed and out. If you’d be prepared to do something at that time of day then it could be a really powerful indication of a career that you might just be suited to.

Nothing will substitute for a discussion with a personal careers adviser, but there are plenty of ways to get started before you meet them. At Careersnearhere, we provide free guest spots to external bloggers on relevant, informative and inspirational careers topics – worth a look! It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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