So you know you want career advice, but where do you start?
Whether you are just starting your career, thinking about a career change or looking to develop in your current career, it can be helpful to read and listen to career advice. Helpful career advice will give you a sounding board for your ideas. It will also give the opportunity to get feedback and reflect on what next steps are right for you.
Getting different pieces of advice from good sources is the best starting point. This article explains how you can do that.
1. Find a successful connection and ask their advice
Talk to family and friends and use them as a sounding board for your ideas; having people listen, understand and affirm your goals, or who can give you constructive feedback, will help you work out what career path might be right for you. However, choose wisely! Your best friend might not be honest with you, nor may they be qualified to give you advice.
Go to a friend, relative or colleague who has the career you want. That person understands what it takes to get where you want to be, and can give you valuable, hands-on advice. Even better; they might even be able to get you some relevant work experience, or let you know of any vacancies.
2. Talk to your old boss
If you’re lucky enough to have a previous boss who you have an existing relationship with, ask for their input. It’s likely they’ll understand you, your skills, how you work and what motivates you. As opposed to anyone you currently work with, your previous boss can give you a completely objective view on what’s good for you and will want you to continue to do well.
3. Use your social media connections
Social media can also be a great platform for connecting with people who can help develop your career. Joining relevant, industry specific groups on platforms such as LinkedIn, for example, will help you build up a network of contacts.
If there’s an organisation you wish to approach and you have a broad network, you may have a connection who works for that organisation, one or two degrees removed. Politely ask for an introduction and seek their general advice on how you might progress into your career of choice.
It makes sense to incorporate social media into your overall approach to job searching. Check out these guides:
How to use LinkedIn to get a job
How to use Facebook to get a job
4. Do your research
It’s really important to try and find out what career might suit you. You can use the National Careers Service website as a great starting point. Search through a selection of over 800 different careers to access job profiles that will tell you the hours, salary, description, skills needed, and duties associated with a particular role.
Work out what your skills are and then try to match them to a role. You can do this using the Skills Assessment. Then, if you find you need training or a qualification to access a particular career, you can search for the nearest accredited course and possible funding options. .
5. Get some experience
If you can get relevant experience in a role or sector, it will increase your chances of a successful job application. This doesn’t have to be through paid work – volunteering can be a great way of experiencing a job role, gaining confidence and building new skills by learning from others who do the type of work that you’re interested in. It’s also a great way to help build your confidence, and to bridge the gap if you’ve been unemployed for some time.
There are websites out there dedicated to volunteering opportunities, and a great one to try is Do-It. Alternatively, you can contact your local Volunteer Centre, or search for volunteering positions on sites such as Charity Jobs and Reach Volunteering.
You may have to take small steps to get to your perfect volunteering opportunity as it can be very competitive. Be creative about where you’ll go and what you’re willing to do.
For example; if you want to work with animals, getting into a charity like the RSPCA may be difficult without experience. You could show your commitment by doing something like dog walking or pet sitting for friends and relatives first.
6. Get free, professional careers advice from the National Careers Service
You can speak to a professional careers adviser free of charge by contacting the National Careers Service. The service is available to anyone aged 13+, no matter what stage you’re at in your career journey. You can speak to a careers adviser face-to-face, online or over the phone for personalised support. Or if you’re just looking for a few pointers, the National Careers website has tools to help you identify your skills and explore careers and training opportunities. You can access help with writing CVs, cover letters, application forms, interview skills, and any other aspect related to finding a job, training or education opportunity.
Contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900, or via webchat.
7. If at school or college – speak to your Careers Leader
The Careers Leader is a member of staff who is responsible for careers education information advice and guidance (CEIAG) in the school or college. Their details should be listed on the school or college website. Through them, book an appointment with the independent careers adviser at the school. Some schools and colleges employ their own careers adviser; however, many use independent organisations like CXK to provide unbiased careers guidance, to ensure you are given all of your options and to help you talk through your ideas (without telling you what to do).
Most importantly – don’t just take one piece of advice
Gather lots of different advice and information from different sources. Then, take some time to evaluate that advice and make the choices that are right for you. This is your career journey, so take your time and make it work for you. Good luck!