How to choose a career in 4 steps if you have no idea what you want to do

how to choose a career

There are so many options out there. How can you choose a career path that’s right for your skills and interests? A career you can enjoy and do well in? Print out and keep this list of ways to pick your top career choices – and take some time to go through it.

Assess yourself – who are you right now?

Think about who you are, what you’re good at and what you enjoy. This will help  you choose career ideas that match your skills and interests.

Here are some useful questions and activities to explore:

  • What subjects have you enjoyed studying at school and beyond? Why? Is it because you like the person teaching you, or there’s something about that subject you can really relate to?
  • What subjects have you done well at, and why?
  • If you had to pick a favourite out of words, numbers, visuals and physical activities, which would it be? Could you see yourself in a job where your top choice formed a big part of what you do every day?

Useful self-assessment activities

Take one of these online career personality tests to find out more about your personal qualities and strengths. Also known as career aptitude tests or self-assessment tests, they can help you make career choices based on your personal traits, or qualities.

Do a SWOT analysis. All you need is a pen, paper and a willingness to be honest about yourself. Don’t worry, no-one else is going to see the results of this exercise, just you! Use your SWOT analysis to figure out your current strengths, weaknesses, threats to your goals and opportunities you can reach out and grab if you put your mind to it.

Think about the 5 most important life and work skills you already have – and which ones you want to build on. Which skill comes easiest to you out of communication, self-management, self-belief, teamwork and problem solving? Every career needs these skills, but some more than others. Sales, nursing, teaching and investigative reporting careers need you to be great at communication. Being a sports coach or a firefighter need you to have a level of fitness and you’ll enjoy these careers if you enjoy physical activities. Some really unusual careers need you to be good at numbers, like being a platform error correction associate or a food technologist. You can develop all these skills for free as a Young Professional.

Once you’ve had a good think about your skills and interests, make a list of all the careers you think could be a good match. Remember, there are lots more careers that could be a good match that you haven’t thought of yet!

Build a list of careers you want to learn more about

If you’ve assessed your strengths, skills and interests, you should biq have a list of careers to think about. It’s useful to have a long list, with at least ten career choices because there is no such thing as just one dream career. Lots of careers could be a great match for you.

Have you got some ‘dream careers’ high on your list already? Use those top choices to expand your careers list. Head over to our careers hub and see which of the fifteen business areas, or ‘sectors’ you think your dream career would fall into – like creative careers or science careers, for example. You can find out more about that sector and jobs you could do in it. Each sector features a range of jobs you could be great at. You’ll learn learn how much they pay, what qualifications you might need,  how to get started when you leave school or education, and who can help.

EXAMPLE: Say you like the idea of being a teaching assistant. You visit childcare and education jobs  on our careers hub to find out more. You discover the job description for an IT trainer and decide that sounds pretty good. That gets you thinking – maybe you’d find a whole load of exciting career choices in digital careers as well?

By now, you should have built up a good-sized list of career choices you like the sound of. Aim to have at least ten careers on your list. There will probably be some career ideas you’ve already thought about, but also some possible careers you don’t know that much about, or haven’t really thought about before.

Create a list of 2-5 top career choices

Now it’s time to narrow down your list of careers – but not too much! You want to keep an open mind, because there is more than one dream career out there waiting for you. Pick careers you are interested in. Aim to choose careers that match your qualifications so far (or pick them if you genuinely want to build up any needed qualifications over time. Remember, Rome wasn’t build in a day – you can always do extra courses or learn part-time if you need to).

See if your top career choices feature similar qualifications and skills that could be useful in your future career journey. Perhaps all your top career choices say it’s good to have strong passing grades in the sciences, or in English, or geography. Make a note of that, because it can help you decide what your future study options might be – whether it’s choosing GCSES and A-levels, or thinking about courses and study once you’ve left school.

Think about your short-term and long-term goals

Now that you’ve done all this thinking to choose a career that’s right for you, your next step is to think about some achievable goals.

To make your top career choice a reality, what are you going to work towards in the next few months? And in the next few years?

Create a document or spreadsheet. List down all the steps you can take to achieve your goals – and add a date you’d like to achieve them by. Is there a grade you want to get on a school project or exam? A course you’d like to research? An hour you’d like to spend finding online interviews with people doing your dream job? Your goals can be small or large. They can be achieved this evening or next year – but they must be achievable.

Create your list of achievable goals, add do-by dates, and you’ve taken a big step to not only choosing a career but setting your dream in motion.

There’s more than one path to all your dream career choices.

Never forget – if you’ve got the interest, you can build the skills and qualifications.

There’s no one set path to a career destination, whatever careers you choose. We always list multiple career paths in all the career ideas we offer. You can go to university. You can start in a junior job and work your way up. And you can get apprenticeships for almost any career you can think of. It’s all about finding the right apprenticeship for you. For example, if you want to get into a finance career or a digital career, financial service giants EY offer business apprenticeships and even digital degree apprenticeships – where you can become an apprentice and get a degree for free!

Remember –  there is more than one path to your dream career, and there’s also more than one dream career.

Your skills and interests could be a great match for all kinds of careers – even some you haven’t heard of yet. What’s important is figuring out a range of careers that excites you, because a career path that starts with customer service (maybe you love being social) could lead to a career path in healthcare, catering and hospitality, journalism or sales careers – to name a few.

Tagged in: ,

Are You Aged 14-24?
Get FREE Young Professional Training
Are You An Employer?
Get youth employment expert help

For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

Looking for Youth Friendly Employers?

Find out more about some of the organisations offering high quality training and work opportunities to young people. Your next dream role could be just a click away…

Latest Articles

See more

How To Find A Job You Love In 6 Steps

Finding a job you love is easier if you think about what you enjoy and what’s important to  you. You […]

Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding A Job… And Career

Finding a job is hard. It requires patience and persistence. This is especially true if you are fairly new to […]

Working In Communal Area

Jobseeker’s Guide to Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship is a training scheme where you get paid to learn on the job and build up experience and […]

New approaches for research into serious violence against young people

In an attempt to understand why there is an increase in serious violence against young people UK Youth have partnered […]