Career Planning



1 – SELF AWARENESS (understanding what you have to OFFER work & what you WANT from work)

2 – OPPORTUNITY AWARENESS (exploring careers & your options)

3 – DECISION MAKING  (making well-informed realistic choices)

4 – CREATING AN ACTION PLAN  (taking action & knowing the steps you need to take to achieve your career aims)

5 – MANAGING CHANGE  (learning skills to help you cope in new situations)

Let’s look at these stages in more detail


what you need to understand about yourself before you explore careers

* Think about your  skills / interests / abilities / personal qualities / work experience.  

* What subjects do you enjoy / are you good at?    

Don’t just think about school – what do you do in your spare time and what skills have you gained from these activities?

* Think about why you might enjoy something.      

* How do you like to learn?  (If you prefer to learn by doing something rather than sitting in a classroom, then you might be more suited to a vocational (job-related) course like a BTEC or  NVQ course or maybe an Apprenticeship).     

You also need to think about what would be important to you in a career – what would make a job rewarding and enjoyable for you? 

For further help with this see the section All About You!  

If you want to find out what careers your favourite subjects could lead to then see the section on  Subjects and Careers and the Useful Websites page.


Find out about-    

* Range of career opportunities out there    

* Different routes you can take            

* Employment trends and future prospects      

*  What employers look for                                                   


* Look at career families that appeal to you eg: Engineering or Health and Social Care         

* Then look at more specific job roles within those sectors eg: Civil Engineer or Health Visitor.      

* Next research these careers – see how closely they match YOU and what you WANT from work          

* Explore the different routes into those careers eg: college and Apprenticeships.    

For further advice on exploring careers see the section on Researching Career Ideas & the Useful Websites page.


* You are trying to find a career / career sector that most closely matches YOU and what you WANT  from work  

* While researching try making notes under the headings   LIKE / DISLIKE. This will help you to see clearly how well this career would suit you     

* Research includes reading about careers online / watching career videos / talking to people who already do the job eg: while on your work experience      

If you need help with making decisions then try talking to your family, friends, teachers or ask your tutor for a careers interview.   


The steps you need to take to get where you want to go!  

* This might mean attending open events / creating a CV / finding some work experience / working extra hard in an important subject in order to improve your grades / finding some paid/unpaid work to help you develop employability skills / asking for advice.    

* You should also have a back up plan in case things don’t work out as you want them to.    

*  Your plan should include what you need to do / when you need to do it by / who can help you to do this.  

* Regularly check your progress and review your Action Plan to make sure you’re still on track to achieve your career aims.    

* If things aren’t going according to plan or your ideas have changed then you may need to amend your Action Plan or it may be time to ask for some advice and support.  

See the Creating an Action Plan section for further advice on this.


From year 11 onwards you are likely to experience lots of changes eg: adapting to life in the 6th form / going to a new college / starting work / living away from home / job hunting / mixing with new people.

You’ll need to learn new skills that help you to cope with change in a positive way eg: becoming more independent / self motivated / resourceful.

These skills will help you to cope with the many changes and demands that may come your way throughout your working life. Career planning skills will help you not just while you’re at school / college / university, but also throughout your career as your ideas, priorities and personal life change. 


Have a look at the videos / infographics below for inspiration!






INFO 1.001 Interactive Infographic: What is Your Ideal Career Path?


No career ideas at all and worried about how to choose a career?! Then have a read of the article below from ‘realworld’ on choosing a career.


 Have you been putting it off, are you a bit confused… or you simply have no idea what to do job-wise? Well, you’re not alone, read on for plenty of reassurance and some sound career advice. Here is what can help you realize what you should do with your life.

‘Don’t Panic!’

 “It’s true that significant proportion of university students haven’t made up their minds about which career to pursue by their final year. For some, it’s because they haven’t thought about it, and for others it’s because they have thought about it and are still confused. It can be a nerve-wracking time and it’s easy for panic to set in. It’s important to realise you’re not a alone… Lots of other people are in the same boat, and being obsessive can be counter-productive,” says Carl Gilleard chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The trouble is if you feel you are running out of time it can become even harder to think about what to do. Like when you are staring at a blank piece of paper in an exam room, there are times when inspiration can seem a long way off. Well, here’s the bad news. If you really want to find a job you love you’ll need to set aside some time to think about what you want to do. The good news is that the more time you spend thinking about it, the more likely you are to find a job you enjoy, say the experts.

The quarter-life crisis

According to leadership development organisation Common Purpose, about half of workers between the ages of 25-35 say they are not fulfilled in their current jobs. The main reason for this discontent, the research found, is that workers are struggling to combine the demands of their job with their wider life ambitions. It’s been tagged “the quarter-life crisis” and more and more 20-something’s are suffering from waking up in the wrong career two years after graduation. The reason? A simple lack of planning.

“Most people spend more time planning a car purchase, or an annual holiday than they do thinking about their career,” writes John Lees, author of bestseller How to Get a Job You Love. “How do people choose the work they do? For many, work chooses them. Careers are often formed by the first job that happens to come along after graduation. It’s staggering how many people drift from one job to another with no clear plan.” So why do so few people actually try to find out what they really want to do? “There are three main reasons,” argues Stephen Coomber in The Careers Adventurer’s Fieldbook.

“First, most people don’t actually know what they want to do… they either take the path that is laid before them, or follow the received wisdom of those around them. Second, those who do have an inkling of their true vocation don’t know how to go about making it a reality… the third reason is fear of failure.”

“No one can make this decision for you”, says Carl at the AGR. “You’ll always have the graduate that can’t make a decision and wants someone to make it for them, but that kind of direction isn’t available, even at your careers service,” he says. “It is your life and ultimately you have to come up with a decision.”

Don’t let fear of the unknown push you into a state of paralysis or denial, warns Brian Staines, careers advisor at the University of Bristol. “The worst thing you can do is get into a state of inertia, where you are so afraid of making the wrong choice you don’t make any choice at all,” he says. “This isn’t a one-off life or death decision, it’s a decision that will move you forward. You can always change later but do make it a choice based on solid research.”

Dream jobs take time

Nick Isbister, author of career book Who Do You Think You Are? believes that the ground rules on finding what you want to do have changed, but we’ve still to catch up. “The reality is that the emphasis in employment until recent years has been on skills rather than motivation. The implication is that we will tend to enjoy a job that we have the skills to do.” But he argues “Our -personal motivation is a much more complex matter than just finding a good skills fit.”

This means considering some very personal questions. If you get stuck thinking about what you do like doing, start with what you don’t like doing, the AGR’s Carl suggests. “Some of this you will only realise when you are actually in the job so be realistic and acknowledge that you won’t necessarily springboard into your ideal job immediately,” he says.

Research by the government last year suggested that it can take graduates anything up to four years after graduation to find their way into a job with high levels of job satisfaction, good pay and prospects. This is daunting, but Roger Steare, careers consultant advises: “From a maturity point of view, people don’t really get into an adult frame of mind until their mid to late twenties. So it’s actually quite natural to feel unsure.”

Find what you love

Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple, the guy that oversees the making of funky hardware like the iPod. Despite founding the company at 21 and becoming a multi-millionaire by the age of 30, he managed to get himself sacked from Apple and went through a serious career crisis. Never one to stay down for long, he spent the time soul searching, only to be rehired as CEO of the company. His words to this graduates of 2005 at Californian university Stanford were straight to the point:

“You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. So keep looking. Don’t settle.”

The hardest part of this whole process is deciding what you want to do. But Nick Williams bestselling author of The Work We Were Born To Do has spent years looking into this process. He suggests some key steps:

1 You can work for love AND money

The majority of the population believe you can work for love or money. Either you sell your soul to earn good money, or you do what you love and are inspired about, but can never succeed financially. But you CAN have both. Seek out those who do both, study them, learn from them and spend time in their company.

2 Listen to your inner voice.

Create a list, and keep adding to it, of what would inspire you, what would seem really you and what you think would fulfil you.

3 Understand the process of resistance

Beware of procrastinating, talking yourself out of an idea or finding reasons why something wouldn’t work.

4 Expose yourself to the real world

Most people have a limited view of the world of work and its possibilities, but the truth is there have never been so many possibilities and opportunities to find and create work that is inspiring. Read up on interesting companies, go spend days at work with family and friends, work-shadow people, both to discover new ideas and find out what you definitely don’t want. Then you can make more and inspired informed decisions.

5 Think purpose, not job title

Sometimes you will think that a particular career will guarantee some particular experiences, like security, fun, inspiration, creativity, excitement, intellectual challenge, meaning or purpose. Start thinking the other way around. Write down your non-financial goals, like, “I want to feel fully utilised, I want to make a difference, I want to keep growing and learning, I want to be inspired.” This is your purpose in your working life.

6 Don’t make employability and the market your idols

When you are motivated by fear and a belief in a lack of opportunity, you might be tempted to override your own interests in order to be wanted and employable. But if you have had to mould and distort yourself to get a position, you probably won’t enjoy it much when you get it. Instead, believe that the more you live authentically (true to the real you), the more opportunity you can create. Recognise that you can create your own business if the work you’d love doesn’t seem to exist now.

7 Know you can make new decisions as you grow

It can seem daunting when you need to make decisions that are going to have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life. But every decision you make now can be changed in the future. Your working life can be a series of successes, and even some failures, but you can change course your whole life. Even your seemingly bad decisions can become great sources of learning and transformation for you.

8 Get in touch with the real you

One of the greatest causes of pain around careers is when you fulfil other people’s expectations of how they’d like you to be and what they’d love you to do. Even being a great success at someone else’s dream for you will bring you misery. We all want to be liked and approved of, but you must be aware the times when you override your own desires and instincts in order to please your family or friends. This is especially the case when we don’t yet know what we want to do ourselves.