How to discover the right career for you

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Choosing the right career is tough. The intersection of what you love, what you’re good at and what’s in demand is your career sweet spot.

Whether you’re just starting your career or thinking about making a change, here are the questions you need to ask yourself and your career advisor to ensure you find the best path for you.

Questions to ask yourself

Jen Smith, career coach and founder of The Freedom Leap, advises asking yourself what you love doing if money were not a factor. “Is there a passion, hobby or something you just love to do that makes you happy? This can give you real insight into what career would fit,” she says. Also begin with a blank slate and don’t rule anything out. This can introduce you to careers and pathways you may not have considered.

If money was not a factor how would you spend your days?

What do people most often ask you for help with?

What makes you feel confident, motivated or inspired?

Imagine yourself 10 years into the future. What would you regret not having done? What would you be proud to say you have accomplished?

Questions to ask your career advisor

An AAT study found that students of ages 14-19 had limited knowledge about the range of career pathways available to them. Only a third received information about apprenticeships from their teachers or career advisors and 7 in 10 wrongly believe you need a degree to enter the professional services sector, which includes accountancy. Come equipped to your next meeting with your career advisor and ask them the questions. Use the list below to help you gather as much information as possible about your career options.



I really enjoy _______. What sort of industry or career would that be a good fit with?

I am interested in the _______ industry. What types of jobs could I pursue?

What are the different pathways I can take to get into this career? Can I do an apprenticeship or learn on the job?

What demand is there for this career now/in 5 years/in 15 years?

What salary can I expect to make in 2 years/5 years/10 years?

If I don’t want to work for someone else, where can I seek advice about freelancing or becoming self-employed?

If I change my mind or realise I’m not enjoying this career, what other jobs can do I with these skills and qualifications?

How can I secure work experience so I can get a sense of what day-to-day life in this industry is like?

How can I make my CV stand out?

Where can I look for extra resources, training or guidance?

3 most common mistakes

There are three common mistakes career seekers make. Jen advises us on the pitfalls to avoid when deciding what career route to follow.

1. Doing what you think others want you to do 

“To sense check any career decisions ask yourself if you’re doing this to make yourself happy or to impress others. The latter can be a warning signal and lead to dissatisfaction. It’s your life, don’t live it to impress others, impress yourself!”

2. Considering only one option

“There are so many ways to earn money and do fulfilling work – you can get a job, you can become an apprentice but you could also freelance or start a business. Look at it from every angle.”

3. Not getting work experience

“My school work experience was dire – I wanted to try events management so ended up at a hotel where they put me on housekeeping duties for a week. I didn’t let that put me off though and whilst I was studying at uni I applied to lots of magazines and newspapers for internships (I was studying journalism) and did 6 or 7 placements before I graduated. This not only helped me to find out what I did and didn’t like about the industry but it also helped me stand out from other grads and contributed to me getting my first job.”


Dale Rolfe is AAT's Content Manager.

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