How often have you heard it said: ‘I don’t know what I want to do? Perhaps one day we’ll be able to plug ourselves into a computer, it’ll evaluate our core being and then it will tell us what our ideal vocation is! In the meantime, how do we find out and where do we start?

Most of us, at some point, have to find a career or at least a job that we want to do.

Two main things are going to help us: firstly, our own self-awareness of our personal ingredients and what might suit us; secondly, doing research to identify suitable job areas. To be the career detective, be prepared to think about yourself on a deeper level to get some answers.

When it comes to self-awareness, we need to know what makes us tick? our preferences; situations or environments that engage us; our interests, abilities and skills. If you find it hard to make a list off the top of your head you could use an online tool that asks questions and provides suggestions; such as Buzz Quiz which likens you to an animal and suggests potential careers; for a more serious and detailed approach you can use the Skills Health Check, part of the National Careers Service set of tools.

If you don’t want to use an online tool and prefer to ask yourself questions or chat them through with someone, try exploring topics such as:

  • What do you like doing either in your own time or in time organised for you?
  • Do you have any interests in cooking, sport, or art for example, that could be used elsewhere within a workplace?
  • What are you good at and do you like the things you are good at?
  • Do you like to talk to people on the phone and are you a competent user of IT packages?
  • Are you good at organising things, listening to people, managing your money or practical tasks?
  • Do you like working closely with others in a team, or do you prefer to work independently?
  • What kind of environment would you like to be in? Are you an indoors or outdoors person? Could you work in an office at a desk? Would you be willing to work shifts, during the night, underground or at sea? What is your disposition?
  • Do you like winning?
  • Are you driven by making money?
  • Have you got ‘the gift of the gab’; do you like helping or caring for others?

Hopefully you are grasping the idea; it’s about finding your parameters. By working out what you need to satisfy your values or aspirations, you will be able to explore where your future career may lie. The skills you identify will also help you to create the basis of your CV.