how to choose a career


Given that the average human spends a whopping 4,821 days of their life at work, it’s definitely worth setting out on the right career path. For some, it’s a no-brainer: they’ve known they want to be an electrician or doctor since they were five years old. For others, choosing a career is not an easy process. There are so many jobs out there! Where do you even start?

Whether you’re a recent school leaver or have been in the workplace for 20 years, this short guide is for you. How to choose a career: 5 ways to narrow your options contains useful tips on what to think about and what to do to (re-)launch your career.


How often do you take the time to think about yourself? Self-awareness and self-knowledge are important keys to finding a meaningful and fulfilling career. Think about your interests, your values, your strengths and what you want in life. What are you good/not so good at? What do/don’t you enjoy? All these things will help you build up a profile of who you are, what makes you tick and what you have to offer in a job. If you find self-reflection challenging, you might find it useful to ask a close friend or family member for their input. Personality tests like Myers Briggs and the Occupational Personality Questionnaire can also reveal aspects of yourself you may not have thought of.


The idea here is not to think about specific jobs, but to create a general picture of what you’re looking for in a career. Areas to consider include:

  • Work location
    • Do you want to work at home, in your nearest city, interstate, overseas or other?
  • Travel
    • Think about your daily commute, requirements to travel to other offices/sites, interstate or overseas and nights away from home
  • Size of workplace
    • Do you see yourself in a small or large office or worksite or something in between?
  • Work schedules
    • These can vary, from a standard fixed 9am–5pm working day to a rotating roster, night/split shifts, weekend work and more
  • Work organisation
    • Are you a team player or someone who prefers to work independently?
  • Education & qualifications
    • While some jobs are suitable for entry-level applicants, others require further study and qualifications and/or on-the-job training
  • Advancement
    • Some roles offer a structured career path, while opportunities for advancement may be more limited in others, so check out the potential for growth
  • Lifestyle
    • If you’re looking to finance a family home, two cars and an annual holiday in Bali, you’d do well to look at your earning potential in a given career.


Now you’ve thought about yourself and what you want from a career, make a shortlist of the types of jobs/industries that interest you. Again, if you’re stuck for ideas, open up the discussion to others. Family, friends, co-workers, careers counsellors – they may all be able to help guide your search.


Try to build a bigger picture of every option on your list. Things to research include:

  • Job profiles and descriptions
    • Examples are available online e.g. on SEEK, Indeed and recruitment agency websites
  • Salaries
    • You can get a useful steer from current job ads
    • This annual guide has pay information for over 1,000 Australian jobs.
  • Qualifications
    • What do you need to study? Where can you study? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
  • Potential for growth
    • Is there scope for promotion/advancement?

This government website is a useful resource for information about different careers. It includes information on key job tasks, average weekly earnings, predicted future growth and similar professions.


Nothing beats experience on the job! Employers may offer a variety of paid and unpaid options to students and jobseekers, including work placements, graduate schemes and volunteer opportunities. If you are thinking about a career in a particular industry, consider reaching out to companies in that sector to gain on-the-job experience.

It can be challenging to find a career that is fulfilling and rewarding, especially when you have little experience or knowledge of the world of work. By reflecting on yourself, what you are good at and what you want, you’ll find it easier to narrow down your options. Then, further research and hands-on experience should help confirm your choice. Happy hunting!

The professional team at Optimal Recruitment can help you find a career you love! Contact us today on or 02 8416 4181.