Starting Your Career Search With Self-Discovery

Don't fall into the trap of applying to a few big name companies, you need to understand which career is right for you so that you can enjoy your work life whilst learning and developing.
Matt Thomas
Matt Thomas

Starting your search for a graduate career is daunting. We know this. There is a universe full of employers each with a galaxy of positions. To make things more challenging there is a Milky-Ways’ worth of recruiters, advisors and content all vying for your attention. Where do you even begin?

Before you do anything, consult with the person who will play the most important role in your career. You. Without getting too deep before we have had our morning coffee, what you want from life is intrinsically linked to your career. A little self-discovery can add a huge amount of clarity when you start wading through the recruitmentsphere.

“Students need to try and think beyond the job title and starting salary and look longer term – winning that first job is only the starting point, not necessarily the happy ending,” said Dr. Tim Baker, Senior Teaching Fellow and Career Liaison at UCL. “Have you contemplated doing the same job, or working in the same industry, in three, five, or even ten, years’ time?”

There are a number of useful tools to help you work out what exactly you might want to do. Third party talent assessment tools including personality and career suitability tests can help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and what sort of roles you might be best suited to.

Firstly, analyse your interests. These interests will have influenced your decisions more than you realise but you won’t necessarily know all of your interests. Research different industries and find something where you can use your passion to help contribute to your work.

“Really think about what you enjoy doing, what interests you and motivates you. Think very carefully about what each role involves and how it will satisfy your ambitions,” Baker said.

Secondly, consider the values you want in a working environment. These values might include a desire to help others, material benefits, a team environment, creative freedom or leadership. There are no right and wrong answers but make a list just for you and be honest with yourself. Very similar roles can embody different values and you need to be able to distinguish this when searching and applying as these values drive the behaviour of the people in these roles.

Finally consider your own personality and strengths and weaknesses. Asking others (but not those too close to you) for example your tutor is very helpful. By the way, EVERYONE has weaknesses. They are nothing to be ashamed of and awareness of them is incredibly powerful in interviews (more on that later) and your career.

Once you have completed the above, you can look for the cross section of roles where these three areas intersect. Get this process right and you will have made a discovery that takes some people years but of course these factors change throughout your career and what is right for you now will be different later on.

“Some people like routine and repetition, but others need plenty of variety. That could depend on the size of company you join, which in itself may affect the work environment. Will it be just you that evolves, or is the business one that is likely to grow and develop?” Baker said.

Within this section of the Debut app we will be exploring various industries, companies, roles and people over the coming months to help you with these three steps.

Ultimately the decisions around your career are yours to make and you will be a lot happier with these decisions if you come to them yourself rather than being heavily influenced by peers or parents opinions of what you should be doing. Research, educate yourself and come to your decisions in an informed manner and you will feel a lot more confident about the whole process. The time to take control of your career is now!

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