With so many different graduate career choices on offer how can you reduce the chances of choosing badly? Our blog on how to coach yourself into the right career can help.
Many graduates invest great energy into the process of finding a job without giving due attention to the most important step in choosing the right career, which is to get to know yourself.
Of course, you have an idea of what you like and dislike and, perhaps, your strengths and weaknesses, but there are different levels of self-awareness which, once achieved, can help you to make the right career choice.
Why is this key?
Your career choice determines your future, that’s why we place so much emphasis on it. Your lifestyle, and economic and social status all rest on this decision. Most importantly, it also has a huge impact on your emotional well-being and happiness. Springing out of bed in the mornings is a lot easier when you enjoy what you do.
Ninety-per cent of the graduates who come to me for career coaching will end up changing their minds about the kind of work they want to do. After a bit of probing and discussion they begin to see that, actually, they are best suited to something else. Getting to know yourself can clarify the career steps you should take.
So, how can you coach yourself to choose the right career? It is important that you start by placing your own skills, interests, experiences, strengths and even weaknesses at the centre of making the right choice.
Step One: Audit your skills
The first step we take our graduates through is to audit their skills. A skills audit is a stocktake of the skills you have.
When auditing your skills, you should include both paid and unpaid work as it all counts towards your experience. Remember to include your hobbies and interests, as these also count.
Step Two: Check your skills against those employers look for
Once you’ve listed your skills, check them against what potential employers are looking for. There are at least nine employability skills that all employers say they look for in a new hire.
- Business awareness – you have strong awareness of how the company makes money, how they compete with other brands and how they can reduce costs
- Communication – you can get your point across clearly, verbally and in writing
- Analytical – you can interpret data into practical, easy-to-use information
- Resilience – you keep going in the face of what may seem like a failure or lack of result
- Problem-solving – you automatically look for the best solution to overcome an obstacle
- Self-management – you know how to use your own initiative and manage your own behaviour and well-being
- Organisation – you can organise your own workload, time and priorities
- Teamwork – you can work well with others to achieve a shared objective
- Entrepreneurial – you have good innovative ideas and leadership skills
Once you’ve audited your skills and checked them against the nine employability skills employers look for it’s time to think about your ideal career.
Step Three: What career are you best suited to?
Choosing your ideal career begins with looking at what you have particularly enjoyed and been good at. We find that a graduate will usually fit into one of three types of careers:
- Specialist – doctor, vet, coder
- Analyst – planner, logistics, advisor
- Communicator – hospitality, sales, advertising
The majority of those we work with will fit into one of the latter two because a specialist is more likely to have obtained a degree with a clear career path.
Many find it hard to uncover the relevant skills they have. Again, the clue is in what you have done well and enjoyed.
Finding relevant but buried skills
I once worked with a young man who had achieved his rowing blue at university. What was interesting about him was that he didn’t think he had much to offer an employer. He only mentioned this award after a series of questions about what he’d done in his spare time while at university.
Now, let’s think about what achieving an award of this kind really says about a person. The blue award is given in recognition of outstanding performance so, immediately, it marks you out as someone who possesses a set of valuable attributes. You are a person that has consistently outperformed others around you, who makes significant contributions to your team.
If you have worked in a coffee shop, you can list skills such as customer service, communication, problem-solving, organisation and resilience. Remember the time you had to think on your feet to help those diners calculate the percentage each should pay for their meal? Or the time you had to help that lactose-intolerant customer choose the best options on the menu?
Breaking down the tasks you carried out to their minutest detail will help you zoom in on tasks you did well and which can be transferred to other jobs. This is work you have to do for yourself: employers won’t do it for you. All it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking.
What’s naturally outstanding about you?
According to Forbes, outstanding employees are:
- Clued up on their job and the environment they are working in.
- Able to apply what they learn to the job – so they continuously improve.
- Great with people and in their place as part of a team.
- Able to anticipate problems and address them before they do harm.
- The type to speak up about sticky topics like workload and ineffective procedures and to suggest how to fix them.
- Likely to have a career plan in mind and don’t rely on others to manage it.
- Respectful of others without being people-pleasers.
- The type to seek out and ask for help when they need it.
- Likely to share their ideas and embrace the ideas of others.
- Consistent and get results.
You need to extract these accomplishments and own them. Expressing them on your CV and during your job interview will mark you out for the right career.
Step Four: Boost your confidence
Our final step in coaching an individual is to help them believe themselves. You must do the same. Why is self-belief so essential for getting the job you want? Because the art of getting a job is to convince an employer that you are the best person for the position advertised – if you don’t believe that yourself how are you going to convince anyone else?
There are four main components to cultivating a strong sense of inner belief without coming across as a pompous know-it-all (which no-one likes). These are:
Past accomplishments. Make a list of the things you’ve accomplished in the past. Think about the time you won that race, met that deadline, solved that difficult problem or wrote that great essay or article. Regularly remind yourself of your triumphs.
Talk about your passions. Focus on specific things around your work or hobbies that really interest you and get you fired up. This will help you to get in touch with your personal values and engender a sense of confidence in yourself as an individual.
Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Whether we like it or not other people’s opinions of us do affect us, especially those of the people we value or are close to. You want people around you who reaffirm and build you up.
Cultivate a growth mindset. Remember, mistakes are inevitable, and no-one becomes skilled at anything without having to learn, so you must be willing to fail forward. One of the top reasons why people struggle to believe they can achieve a goal is because of past failures that leave them believing they will fail again in the future. If you are willing and determined to pick yourself up, learn and move on after every set-back you will eventually land the right career.
At Graduate Coach we offer plenty of support to help you coach yourself into the right career.
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.
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 – what skills do you have and what do you need, establishes your current level on the 9 employability skills, create your career plan, discussions about what career options will suit you best, 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 and how to create a CV that highlights your achievements.
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.