How to choose a graduate career path to follow

Mar 16, 2018

The place most graduates begin when trying to decide on a career is with their academic qualifications, skills and talents. What can you do with these?

If your degree is in a general subject, like biology, history or English, then this may not be so obvious – which is perhaps why you’re feeling unsure. Or it may be that you did your degree with a specific career in mind but you’re now having second thoughts.

Graduates often come to me in this type of panic. After years of study, and now having graduated, they still have no idea what type of job they want to do.

It’s ok to be undecided on what graduate career path you want to follow

The first thing I tell them is, fear not. Career indecision is common for many of us. It’s normal to have second thoughts about what you’d like to do even after years of working in a job.

So, dear graduate, quit fretting. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing what you want to do. It’s early days yet. This isn’t going to make or break your career because lots of people try several jobs before finally settling for ‘the one’ – and, to be honest, rarely is there truly just one. Not nowadays. You’re a complex person, with lots of different interests, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that you struggle to decide which one of the many interests that make you up you want to pursue as a career.

The main thing is to make a start someplace. Don’t let career indecisiveness paralyse and make you feel miserable. Just start somewhere and trust that you’ll find the right path down the line. Here are a few suggestions to help you to do that.

Don’t think of your career path as a dead-end road

First, let me just say that if you look at choosing a career as a road that leads to other roads then you’ll be less worried about taking the wrong one. Each ‘interesting’ experience leads to another, which means your career choice is never a cul-de-sac but always through-road to somewhere else. And your direction will be determined by the experiences that interest you.

So, this is where to begin, with your strengths and interests. These will hold a clue to the kind of work you might enjoy doing, so start here. What do you enjoy doing and what are you good at?

To help you decide, seek the views of the people know you best. What do they think you’re really good at?

Aside from your strengths and weaknesses, get to know your values, soft skills and aptitudes. If you’ve a passion for saving the planet, for example, then a career that’s concerned with similar issues might suit you nicely.

What’s the future hold? 

Also think about the trends and key developments happening around you. What industry or type of jobs are there where demand is rapidly growing? Or look likely to grow in the near future? This can open up new opportunities for you.

Know what makes you tick. To do this you must engage in some serious self-reflection and analysis, and it takes time. Think about what inspires you. This will usually involve an activity where time seems to fly. Make a note of these activities, then ask yourself what it is about each item on your list that you enjoy.

Personality tests can help you work out what you might be good at. Choosing a job type will be easier if you know how you’re likely to behave in different scenarios, like working with a team, working alone or working in a pressured environment. You may be surprised by the new things you discover about yourself.

Choosing where to start

Okay, now take a look job adverts that interest you, and the skills you’ll need to do them. Note those that match the skills and interests you have. Don’t worry if you don’t have all that’s required to do those jobs as you can easily develop those later.

You’ll probably need to do a bit more probing before making a decision. To find out more information about the careers that spark your interest try to speak to people who are already working in those roles. If you don’t know anyone personally, try to join a couple of the social media groups set up to serve people in these jobs.

You should now at least have a better idea of where to start on your graduate career path.

And remember:

It’s never too late to be whatever you might have been.

George Eliot

Press

A degree is no longer enough – Aspect County

Young people graduate into a different world from that of twenty or thirty years ago when their parents went to university. The student population has doubled since 1992 and last year UCAS reported that a record number, almost half, were accepted into university. The problem is what happens when they leave. With 78% of students now achieving a 1st or 2:1, competition for graduate level employment is rife. Which is why, according to official data by the Office of National Statistics, almost half (47%) of graduates were in non-graduate jobs two years later.
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How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 1 and Stage 2

If you’re a student or graduate our one-to-one coaching can help. Stage one: Learning about yourself – Find your ideal career will help you learn about yourself, give you a better understanding of your preferences, strengths and skills and help you find your ideal career. Stage two: Career plan develops your career plan to reach your goals, what skills do you have and what do you need, establishes your current level on the 9 employability skills, discussions around what career options will suit you, what industries are growing / failing, Internships and work experience needed.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book introduces the 9 Employability Skills, how and where to acquire them, ways to develop them, how to prove you have these skills, how to create a CV that highlights your achievements and things to consider before and during an interview.

Nail That Interview Course with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

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The full career coaching programme with Chris Davies | Interview training

Creating a career action plan | Developing career goals

Help to get a graduate job | Graduate interview coaching

Tell me about yourself | Self introductions

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