Research your options – career exploration
Hello again. This is Step 2 of our 4 step process which involves career exploration to establish a career direction.
To remind you, the 4 steps for identifying an overall career direction, or suitable job options were:
- Step 1 – self review, and self analysis
- Step 2 – fully research options
- Step 3 – decision making
- Step 4 – action planning
In this post I will be describing how and what to research regarding possible career paths and suitable job options. This process is also known as career exploration.
Why is career exploration helpful?
Remember why I began this series of articles?
It was to assist people who have become stuck in deciding what career path to follow, or what jobs might be suitable for them to try and land.
In my very first post I explained that career decision making can be a big problem for a lot of people. One way to help people become ‘unstuck’ with this is to follow this career planning exercise.
So, back to the question why is researching your options necessary, and how does it help?
First – when you have options you have choices. Usually the more valid options that you identify for a job or career the better your chances of success in getting a suitable position.
Second – when you identify a suitable pathway, or job, you can then start to think about how to market yourself to make the opportunities a reality.
There’s a key point here which we will cover in future posts about self marketing – for each option, your marketing campaign will almost certainly be different.
When you have validated the options available to you you can then implement a highly targeted job search campaign.
A third benefit of career exploration is that you will be researching your various options against your own carefully considered criteria, so that you pick the best opportunities to target.
How to do your career exploration
The first thing you will need to do is to start making a list of possible jobs and career paths. So, how can you do this?
There are two self assessment instruments that will be helpful to you:
- If you have used a specialised instrument called a career interest inventory, it is certain that the report will have made a number of suggestions about possible jobs or careers.
- Similarly, if you have completed a personality careers type assessment, your report will also will have made suggestions about careers or jobs which match your personality traits.
Make a list of your options!
From the reports for each of these types of assessments, make a list of career paths, or occupations in which you have some interest.
Put them on your list even if you don’t know too much about what the job or career involves just yet. That’s the purpose of this step – to explore the options on your list.
Here’s another tip to begin to identify possible jobs.
If you have completed a skills assessment in step 1, your report will also have some useful information.
Typically your strongest skills will be identified in your skills report, so make a list of what these are.
Research information about options on jobs boards
Next, do a separate search for each of the skills on your list favourite online jobs listing website. You are not entering job titles here, you are entering the name of a skill.
Why not enter job titles?
The main reason is that different employers will have different job titles for people who are doing exactly the same work.
After entering a skill, the idea is then to look at each job listing which comes up on the search results.
Some you will ignore immediately because you will quickly see they have nothing to do with your skills or experience. Others you will want to read in more detail, because they seem relevant to you.
Spend as long as you can until you have developed a list of possible job types which are based on skills which you possess.
So, to sum up, there will be at least 3 sources of information which will enable you to develop a list of possible jobs or career paths:
- Suggested jobs or careers from a career interest assessment.
- Suggested jobs from a personality careers type of assessment
- Possible jobs based on your strongest skills (from a skills assessment instrument)
You should have a reasonably good list of options. Now you are going to research each in a lot more detail so that you can narrow your list down to maybe 3-5 possible careers or jobs.
What to research in your career exploration
Next, you will need to develop a list of criteria of the various things which are important to you in a job or career, and evaluate each career or job against the list.
Please note – this is the criteria for a career, or job that is important to you only. These are the various elements of a career or a job that you consider to be particularly important.
So, here are some examples of the types of things you might include on your list of things to research about the job or career:
- Is the type of job or career a good match with my existing skills and knowledge?
- Does the type of job or career match my preferred working style?
- Do typical employers/employing organisations of people in this type of career or job have similar values to me?
- Does the career path, or job itself match my values?
- Do the working conditions match my expectations, and lifestyle requirements?
- Does the career pathway, and future prospects in this career or job meet my needs?
- Do the benefits on offer (including salary) in this career, or job meet my expectations?
I think you get the idea. Put whatever is really important to you about your career path, or job on your list.
Career exploration – comparing your options
Previously I instructed you to list 3-5 possible careers or jobs. The next step is to compare how these line up against each other, using the criteria you have established.
To do your comparison:
- Create a Word document (or use an Excel spreadsheet)
- Your table should have two columns for each job you want to compare, and and two extra columns will contain the criteria you are going to use
- List the criteria you are going to use down in the left hand column.
- For each position (2 columns for each)
- the heading in the left column will read ‘potential satisfaction (score out of 10)’
- the heading in the right hand column will read ‘total score – overall importance
The image below shows what the worksheet looks like. You can also download the Job Comparison Worksheet to see how to construct your own version.
The idea of the worksheet, and the scoring system is to enable you actually prioritise your options, having carefully compared and evaluated each option.
You’re then ready to proceed to Step 3 in our process – Decision Making.
Career exploration – summary
In this post I have outlined one approach I recommend my clients use to determine their future direction.
Developing your own criteria, and carefully evaluating each option means that you can take a lot of the confusing emotion out of your career decision making.
Armed with facts about the careers or jobs you are considering you are in a strong position to make informed decisions, and to start your action planning.
Please share your experience
Other readers will I’m sure appreciate any feedback you might have about using this process for career decision making.
- If you used the worksheet, how did this help you?
- Would you recommend this process to other people? If so, why?
Till next time, have a great day!!