Generating Career Ideas
The advice below will help you make a start in exploring your personal preferences and researching the roles and sectors that are most likely to be right for you
A degree opens up a wide variety of potential career directions and it can be hard to decide what you want to do after graduating. This briefing will help you make a start in exploring your personal preferences and researching the roles and sectors that you might enjoy working in. It should be useful whether you are:
- taking your first steps on thinking about possible future roles;
- wanting to assess ideas or choices about which directions to pursue; or
- revisiting ideas you have, or even considering a change in your current direction whether this is related to work or further study.
The simple idea at the heart of career planning is that people often find greatest career satisfaction when their work reflects their personal ‘career drivers’ and offers scope not only to apply their knowledge and skills but also to continue to learn and develop.
When generating ideas it helps, therefore, to look inwards as well as outwards.
- Creating a grounded understanding of who you are and what your ‘career drivers’ look like is one piece of the puzzle.
- Researching roles and opportunities that could be a good ‘fit’ for your knowledge, skills and personal preferences helps link this to the job market.
In addition to this briefing, DPhils and research staff should also read our web page What’s Next for You? which examines future scenarios for people with research backgrounds, whether or not they intend to stay close to their academic roots.
Your ‘career drivers’ reflect your values, motivations and work preferences. These are rooted in your underlying beliefs about what is most important and will often guide your decisions without you applying them consciously and can be difficult to identify. However, they are likely to have underpinned your choices and enjoyment of the things you have done, and will continue to be important for your satisfaction and successes in future, and it can be empowering to understand:
- what you enjoy doing most;
- what helps you to succeed and to feel successful; and
- why you not choose to do something and also what keeps you on track and motivated to see it through to the end.
Career Weaver: Our free web-based app to help you explore your personal work-drivers
The Careers Service has created Career Weaver, a novel web-based app to help stimulate reflection on these keys for your career success and happiness. There are a dozen short exercises, which provide a language and a varied range of approaches to help you explore, identify and articulate your career drivers, skills and strengths. Most exercises need only 5-10 minutes work before the user is reflecting on ideas and content they have created.
Career Weaver provides a first introduction to this kind of reflective work and users are not expected to complete every exercise. We encourage everyone to explore the different options to find the exercises that seem to match best with how they like to work, which speak most clearly to them and offer insight and direction to their thinking. More information is provided in our briefing on Career Weaver, and the two sections below offer short introductions to the language surrounding ‘career drivers’ and ‘skills and strengths’.
Career Weaver is accessed by staff and students using their SSO, and alumni can open an account through their CareerConnect account by sending the Careers Service a request via the ‘queries tab’.
For anyone wishing to dive deeper, there are many more options, most of which focus on a specific approach or lens. The External Resources section (below) offers suggestions including the following:
- Personality questionnaires, which can quickly provide you with insights into your work preferences. Many also make suggestions about which careers might be a good fit with your personality profile. Examples include the short free personality-based tools on Prospects and TargetJobs (graduate careers websites); FindMyWhy; the Careers Service works with both the DISC profile and Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessments; and some students may have completed a Morrisby profile while at school.
- Values or Strengths based tools that adopt a single lens to drive reflection, understanding and career (and life!) planning, including the Values into Action website, and the Cappfinity Strengths Profile.
- Creative Games, Tools and Questions found both in the Career Weaver exercises and in self-directed career-planning books, such as What Color is your Parachute? and The Squiggly Career.