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What job would suit me?

Knowing yourself is the first step to job-hunting success and to helping you choose a career that you are going to enjoy.

There’s more to making a career fit than just liking the idea of a job or career area. It’s important to like the activities you’ll do, but the people you’ll work with, the location, the position and how you want to use your skills will influence your job satisfaction.

Step 1: Start with yourself

First think about yourself. Knowledge about your values, interests, personality and skills is the bedrock of good career planning. Digging out this knowledge is what careers advisers call ‘self assessment’.

A discussion with your university career adviser is a good start and they can also point you to online resources that can help. Online self-assessment tools can provide a useful self-assessment and job matching tool that can help you find out your strengths and weaknesses and can suggest suitable jobs and careers. When you have completed your report you can talk it through with a careers adviser, who can suggest your next steps.

Spending time talking to friends, family and colleagues can also help you gain insight into these different areas:

Your interests

The interests and skills you pursue in your leisure time can give you an insight into suitable career paths.

Your likes and dislikes

Reflect on the activities and situations in your life that you feel most strongly about. Which do you enjoy and which do you avoid? Making a list of your major likes and dislikes will help you decide what you want in your chosen role – and what you don’t want. Then define the absolute essentials.

Your personal values

Values are what you really care about, for example ambition, financial reward, helping others, work/life balance. A job which supports your value system will motivate you more than a job which goes against your values. Your values might also have a bearing on whether you would want to work in controversial areas.

Your skills and talents

Identifying the type of skills you have and enjoy using – and they may not be related to your degree – will help you to target employment areas that will let you use these skills.

Your personality

Different jobs will suit different types of personality: having a better understanding of yours will enable you to make the right decisions.

Step 2: Think about the job

You’ve probably thought about this aspect of job-hunting already. You can maximise your chances of success by asking yourself some questions to hone in on what you really want.

The work you’ll do

What kind of tasks play to your strengths? How would you like to use your strengths in the context of a job? With an understanding of what you really like doing or find naturally easy you can cross-check careers and jobs with your ‘skills I want to use’ list.

The places you’ll live and work

Where would you be happy living – city, town or in the country? An office, classroom or outdoors? Find out about the travel that could be involved in your career. If you want to travel in the future, will the organisation offer opportunities for international secondments or projects abroad?

The people you’ll work with

Your future colleagues will also influence your happiness – a supportive line manager or an inspiring colleague could really make a difference. And it’s not just your work colleagues you have to think about. Would you thrive, for example, in a role where you were expected to socialise with your company’s clients in the evenings and at weekends?