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Discover Your Options

Research has shown that people often choose careers based on a small list of jobs they have been exposed to through friends and family members or perhaps seen on television. As a result they often miss highly suitable job options.

You need to cast your net wide at this time and expand your awareness of all your options that are out there. This is the time to have some fun, let your critical mind take a small vacation and search out all the things that might appeal to you.

Our Recommended Options Discovery Process

1. Expand Your Options!

Idea sources
Look at the previous webpages – your self-knowledge, purpose and personal vision – what do they suggest? Keeping them in mind look at a range of idea sources and develop your “Long List” of between 15 to 40 possibilities.

Idea sources include:

  1. Job suggestions you may receive from career assessments at Self Assess
  2. Products and services you like
  3. Causes and groups you identify with
  4. People – talk to as many people as possible, find out about what they do and ask for ideas
  5. Yellow pages phone directory, job sites such as

Be sure to consider lots of jobs you are not familiar with and don’t limit your thinking to just traditional careers. There are new types of work being created every day and some of the more rewarding work doesn’t even have job names yet. Consider a wide range of possibilities such as:

  • Same career but in a new organization or location
  • Combination and hybrid careers (eg. a software programmer who develops an interest in real estate and develops a new computer program for the real estate industry.)
  • Composite careers (2 or 3 part-time jobs)
  • Contract, consulting or temp work
  • Small business or home businesses
  • Part time and/or voluntary work
  • Tertiary study

For some people the best reason for them to get a traditional job is for them to gain skills, knowledge, and contacts that will enable them to start their own business later. This is how most independent contractors & consultants got started.

2. Choose Your Top 3 or 4 Most Promising Options

When selecting your top options consider your alternatives from these perspectives:
  1. What gets you excited? What would you love to do – your dream? Your excitement is your best guide to a positive future.

  2. What is practical? What do you have the entry requirements, money or connections for? Where do you want to live and what is the work availability there? What meets your minimum requirements regarding financial income, hours of work, and lifestyle?

  3. How could you bring together your excitement and your practical situation? What fits with your long term “big picture?” What might be a “stepping stone” option? For example: working as a restaurant waiter in a resort before or while studying tourism and hospitality at university to eventually become a resort manager.

3. Research Your Top Options In-depth Before Committing

a. Written resources
Become as knowledgeable as possible on every aspect of your top options using the internet.

Also include other written sources, such as brochures, annual reports and information packs, which professional and industry associations, universities, and the PR departments of large companies will usually send you upon your request.

b. Information meetings
For your top 2 or 3 options set up information meetings with people who work in those fields.

You can find these people by asking around in your existing network or just calling businesses in the Yellow Pages. Just tell them you are researching your career options and would like to ask a few questions... preferably over a cup of coffee you have bought for them or even lunch.

These meetings, which are sometimes also called “information interviews”, are a crucial step in career decision-making.

People will tell you things face-to-face that you will never find in writing. You will get a much clearer sense of the realities of working in the occupation. You may also be offered help in unexpected ways.

Information meetings are normally short, focused discussions. You should prepare specific questions prior to the meeting.

The questions should cover the following topics:

  • Job content – what do you do?
  • Employment environment – what is it like working here?
  • Lifestyle implications – hours, stress, travel demands?
  • Job rewards – what do you like about the job, what don’t they like?
  • Entry requirements and short cuts – what tips and advice can they offer?
  • Job prospects and local conditions – what is happening in the local area?

c. Career Experiments

If you want to be more certain of an option, before making a major commitment of time and money, look for ways to do some real world testing. Set up limited, but tangible, career experiments that allow you to experience different options.

Some ways to do this are:

  • Volunteer work
  • Helping a friend
  • Vacation job
  • Short term contract, casual or consulting work
For more on how to expand, explore and evaluate your options see The Complete Career Change Kit.

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