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Q: I need to do some career planning

A: It does not matter how old you are or which stage of your life, these 4 steps are what you need to take.


Choosing a career is not one decision – it is a lot of little decisions as you find you like some things and dislike others. It takes time to research and can be confusing and frustrating sometimes, but also exciting and fascinating. Most people enjoy the journey.

TIP: Make a project out of it, with a special notebook and folder for pamphlets. If you have regular access to a computer, create electronic folders and store information like documents and pdfs.

STEP ONE : Know Yourself

Finding out where YOU fit in the world of work starts with knowing everything about YOU. Later you can match that information with what you learn about the world of work. The questions you need to answer are below.

STEP TWO: Know the World of Work

Gathering information about career possibilities is very exciting. There are many sources of information and methods. Some tips follow below.

STEP THREE: Decide about your Options

Look through all the information you have collected and narrow down your choices.
The tips to help you make decisions follow on below.


List the things that need to be done. These steps may include getting the education and financial aid you need.

Suggestions about the action you need to take, follow below


  • What do you enjoy doing? Find 5 things. If you are 30 or 50 you may have changed from the time you first started on a work life.
  • In what way are you different from other people? (Ask others – you may be surprised!)
  • What are you good at? (Sometimes we do something with very little effort and we don’t appreciate our strengths. We don’t realise that other people are not as capable as we are in that area.)
  • What are your personal achievements and successes? List at least 5, even if they seem small.
  • What interests you? (At home or school or elsewhere? Hobbies, Extra mural)

Here is a list of questions you could ask yourself, but it is not a complete list – use your own life to discover some other questions and answers.


  • What are the qualities that make you who you are? Are you caring, patient, impatient, hardworking, friendly, resourceful, pro-active, obedient, self-disciplined, shy, impulsive, adaptable, systematic, open to new ideas?
  • Are you a leader or a follower or a good team worker? Are you a visionary or an implementer?
  • What other qualities can you think of…………… 


  • What interests you? At school and outside of school?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What other interests can you think of……………


  • Which are your favourites?
  • Which are you best at?
  • Which would you like to follow and develop further in the career of your choice?
  • What do you enjoy finding out about?


  • Do you like to work on your own?
  • Like to make your own decisions?
  • Take responsibility for yourself and for what you do?


  • Do you get on with others?
  • Can you handle negotiating?
  • Do you tolerate different viewpoints?
  • Like to organise people?
  • Entertain people?


Are you good at/ enjoy

  • researching
  • cataloguing
  • interpreting
  • classifying
  • selecting
  • organising


  • Can you work with different computer programs?
  • Are you keenly interested in learning more about computers or different computer programmes?


Are you good at:

  • expressing yourself
  • listening
  • writing
  • interpreting
  • criticising constructively
  • debating
  • negotiating
  • explaining
  • entertaining
  • persuading


Do you enjoy:

  • counting & measuring
  • estimating
  • calculating


How good are you at:

  • thinking things out
  • planning
  • creating
  • assessing
  • analysing
  • strategizing
  • evaluating


Do you like:

  • designing
  • making
  • planning
  • controlling
  • fixing


Which are important to you?

  • job satisfaction
  • money
  • responsibility
  • status
  • secure employment
  • your own business
  • Doing good


  • Would you prefer to work for a large organization or a small one?
  • Do you prefer to work outdoors or indoors
  • in an office or in a plant or in a laboratory
  • Any other? ……………


Do you need?

  • security
  • challenges
  • recognition
  • independence or do you need to feel part of a team?
  • to feel you are ‘making a difference’?
  • to feel ‘in charge’ of a team or project or activity?
  • to focus on implementing ideas or projects?
  • to start up new projects?
  • to focus on seeing a particular job or activity through to its conclusion?


Do you want?

  • to earn a lot of money
  • have status
  • work independently
  • help others
  • to constantly learn
  • to enjoy my job


At a certain point dreams about your future are a good thing to explore. You will have a chance to be realistic later.

STEP TWO: Know the World of Work & Training

There are many more career options than most people realise. Here is a list of industries where you could work. It covers almost the whole of the work world.

The link above will take you there. If you click on one of the options you will see the careers that fall into that field.  If you click on the career title it will show you a job description with information about what it involves including how to get there. Choose a few industries to explore – the more the better!

  • Agriculture, Fishing, Farming and Forestry
  • Animal Sciences
  • Artisans, Trades and Technicians
  • Arts, Media and Entertainment
  • Business, Admin, Finance and Sales
  • Construction, Engineering and Mining
  • Education and Training
  • Earth, Environment and Conservation
  • Fashion and Beauty
  • Gardening, Horticulture and Botany
  • Government and Law
  • Green Careers
  • Historical Sciences
  • IT and Telecommunications
  • Medical, Health & Life Sciences
  • Production and Manufacturing
  • Safety, Security and Emergency Services
  • Science, Technology and Mathematics
  • Social, Domestic and Community Services
  • Sports, Sports Science and Recreation
  • Tourism, Hospitality, Gaming and Lotteries
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Wholesale and Retail

Make a note: Everything you are attracted to and why. Everything you are not attracted to and why.

This is going to take quite some time, so use a computer and an internet connection. (Your local library should offer this facility if you don’t have one at home. Please feel free to contact us if you have problems getting the information you need.)

Looking at the careers you are interested in, you may want to think about whether you like working with Things, or Information/Ideas or People, mostly.

EXAMPLE: A Meteorologist or Bookkeeper deals mainly with Information, an Artist with Things and Ideas, whereas a Social Workers work with  people in a caring way and a Manager with People in a organising way. It is important to match your personality to a career.


At the same time collect training information, whether it is higher education or just adding some skills. Most educational institutions have brochures (prospectuses) about individual courses and the requirements for admission.

We strongly recommend downloading them from websites or going to fetch a printed copy. Because they give you so much more useful information, it is really worth the effort. You also need information about the cost of studying and possible bursaries and/or loans.

It is a good idea to visit the places where you are thinking of studying and speak to the people in the Career Office, if they have one.

STEP THREE: Decide about your Options

You should end up with

  • 5 career options (at least). Rank them from 1-5, depending on which you are most attracted to.
  • All the courses related to these options as well as the requirements for admission.

You may find yourself going over STEP ONE or TWO again, as the need to decide sharpens your mind.

Look through all the information you have collected and narrow down your choices. You may feel you need to do some more exploration.

NOTE: You do not need to choose only one career or one educational institution. In fact a good decision allows for a PLAN A and a PLAN B and a PLAN C, because life is uncertain.


List the things that need to be done. This may include applying to educational and financial aid you need.

Do it until everything on the list is ticked off.


The chances are that what you decide to do now, will not be what you are doing in seven years time. 21st century workers can expect a change every seven years or so and so an expectation of changing jobs and even entire careers ie studying something quite different) is a realistic way to plan and an open mind is a good thing!