Researching your career options

Investigating various sectors, jobs and employers is an essential part of your career planning.

Decisions about job applications and career directions may be made easier by first exploring different roles and work sectors and thinking about how they fit in with what is important to you – your values, interests and situation.

Getting started

Set aside some specific time in your diary to undertake your research and try to develop some concrete actions that will help you in making further decisions.

You could start with researching our careers areas, the kinds of job available to you as a graduate, the main types of graduate employment sector you could work in, along with the different kinds of employer throughout the UK.

We also offer more information about working in Wales and the benefits of using your Welsh language skills at work.

A process to guide you

Using the PROCESS model can also act as a guide in exploring the right career fit for you:

  • Purpose: What is the purpose of the role or the main outcomes of the work? Try to identify the main purpose of your ideal job or life role. How does work fit into your life ambitions? Is it to give you some form of satisfaction or is it to finance other interests or a particular lifestyle?
  • Role: This includes the main responsibilities. What type of work might satisfy this purpose? What are the outcomes of your role – what do you hope to achieve? What suits your temperament best – working with people, ideas and concepts or practical things?
  • Organisation: What type of organisation would meet your needs and interests? Public sector or private? A large or small organisation?
  • Career motivation: What drives you? Being an expert? Being creative? Team work? Autonomy? Job security? Status? Running your own company? Working on projects?
  • Environment: What energises you? Think about the kind of activities work you enjoy most and why. Are you living to work or working to live?
  • Sector: What type of employment sector suits you best? You also need to check if there are signs of growth in your target sector and where the main opportunities lie. Don't stop at one. Find out more about the job market.
  • Skills: What are you good at? What is needed? What key skills, qualifications and experience do you need for your ideal job? Identify any gaps in your skills so you can take steps to address it.

We also suggest you browse job advertisements and match yourself against the person specification to identify some options and evaluate what skills areas you might need to improve for certain jobs.

Getting the right fit

Learning about yourself in new work situations can help you make more accurate estimates and achieve a better fit. Working out what you want to do when you have limited experience of the world of work can seem like an impossible task.

It is likely that any job that you take will differ from your expectations to some extent. However, finding out as much as possible about prospective employments through arranging information interviews, shadow days and work experience can help you to make more informed choices before you start applying for internship and graduate opportunities.

You can also contact relevant professional bodies and trade associations if you're interested in finding out more about specific areas of work. Find details of these professional bodies and trade associations in our individual careers areas.

If you're still unsure about your career options, you could get our advice on dealing with uncertainty, which is common for everyone, not just graduates.

Reevaluating your circumstances

Career planning is a never-ending process and, in order to succeed, you should always be reevaluating your current situation and circumstances.

Reflect on your specific experience and explore if it complements who you are with your PROCESS model. Then decide to continue on this career direction or begin your career exploration again.

Sometimes career plans don’t always progress as we would like. So the earlier you start the less stressful it will become.

And, finally, don’t worry too much over making the wrong decision. Your future does not rest upon a single decision. Your occupational path will be influenced by a series of choices and incremental changes.

Contact us

If you need help researching your career options, please contact us:

Careers and Employability