How can I narrow down my career and study options? Please Help! - Career HQ
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How can I narrow down my career and study options? Please Help!

There are way too many career options out there – I have no idea where to start?

This is a really common question that we get asked. Not knowing how to narrow down your career options is something that can cause a lot of anxiety when it comes to making career decisions. This is natural as it can seem like there are overwhelming lists of possible future doors to open with your next job.  

We’ve written this article to help you to narrow down the search. Let’s get one important thing out of the way first. There is no perfect or one job that you’re designed to do. Statistics say you’re likely to do over 15 different jobs in your life and to have over 5 careers. It’s natural and fine not to know what to do next.

picking career

The most important thing is that you’re learning relevant skills that can open new and bigger doors in the future.

So, if you’re feeling confused narrowing down your career options here are some easy things to do.

Use data from your past

There is often so much information in the previous jobs or things you’ve done that can help you to narrow down your options. Think about your past experiences and list 3-5 of your work or learning experiences that stick out as really rewarding and enjoyable. What are the themes in these experiences? Could your next job involve some of these skills? These can be strong pointers in learning about what job is the next best option for you.

Make a list of the industries/places you really don’t want to work including why!

Sometimes a good way to start is by knocking off some options. What are some jobs, industries or tasks that you really don’t like? Are you averse to working in a hospital, sitting behind a computer all day or starting work at 5:30am? Write these things down and explore the themes. Do they narrow down the field of options a little?

Do some work tasks to see what you enjoy

This sounds boring, but if this is going to be the job that you’re doing 5 days a week from 9-5pm you should find your work tasks interesting. If you’re tossing up between a range of jobs trying some of the work tasks to see which you enjoy more or which you feel you are better at can be incredibly helpful. Remember, you are probably going to be spending almost half of your waking life working so making the time to find out which tasks are a good fit for you is well worth the investment.

Think of it like test driving a car. Try before you buy.

career choice

Brainstorm 3-5 micro work experiences

Start by spending 5 minutes brainstorming as many jobs that interest you as possible. Once the 5 minutes is up highlight 3-5 that you would like to learn more about or explore more seriously. Set yourself the task of creating micro work experiences to learn more about each. This could involve mirroring someone in the workplace or going out for coffee. Reach out and ask for help. The more you can find ways to experience the work environment the better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You never know, they could be looking for someone just like you.

Sometimes low-hanging fruit can be a good option

Sometimes a good opportunity or place to get started is right in front of you (even if it’s not perfect). If you are really stuck for the ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ opportunity you might say no to something that is a pretty good fit that arrives on your doorstep. Perhaps this opportunity is a good stepping stone in the right direction even if it’s not perfect. That’s ok. You’re still gaining experience, skills and increasing your networks.

There are times to wait for the right opportunity, but sometimes if you’re really struggling to make up your mind, finding the closest available option that is a pretty good fit or is a step into an industry that you’re interested in is a great place to start.

Remember – progress over perfection.

Try the CareerHQ Compass

We created the CareerHQ Compass as an online tool that you can use to explore and narrow down your career options. In 6 modules you get to explore your skills, interests and lifestyle considerations to create a shortlist of 4-6 jobs to start exploring. It’s an interactive tool that you can complete on any device. To get started you can follow this link:

Start the Compass by clicking here: 

We hope these tools and tips will help you in beginning to narrow down your career and study options. Remember the most important thing is that you’re learning new and relevant skills that open you up to new options into the future. If you would like to get further personalised coaching we also offer one-to-one career coaching if you’re feeling really stuck.