How to get clear on your career direction

Career PathHas taking a career break made you think you might want to come back to a different role or industry? Or has the pandemic completely changed your work values?

Whatever your reason for a rethink, you'll need to step back and assess whether you’re heading in the right direction, and think about what other pathways might be open to you. You may just want to change role slightly, of you could consider retraining in a different field, or maybe even setting up on your own.

But before making a leap into the unknown, it’s worth thinking through your options and working out a clear plan. Here are five things you should consider.

  1. What do you want, and need, from your work?

Is your motivation to work purely financially driven, or is it also about wanting to challenge yourself, feel a sense of achievement, or regain your work identity? How much do you need to earn?

  1. What type of work do you most enjoy?

Is there anything you particularly loved about your previous job, or is there something you enjoy doing outside work that you could develop further? When are you happiest at work?

  1. What kind of work environment do you prefer?

Are you keen to be employed, or are you prepared to consider working for yourself? Do you prefer large or small organisations? What kind of culture suits you best?

  1. What flexibility do you need?

Will you need to work part-time or flexibly? Are you suited to working from home, and do you have the space?

  1. What opportunities are out there right now?

Are there any sectors or organisations that are going through a recruitment drive right now? If you're returning from a career break, are any returner programmes currently available which you could be eligible for?

Having answered these questions, you should be in a position to decide what your best next step would be. Depending on your answers, you could consider:

  • Returning as an employee:
    • In a similar role, using your previous skills and experience
    • Transferring your skills to a different role or sector
    • Via a returner or return to practice programme
    • In an interim role such as maternity cover
    • Through a graduate or senior apprenticeship scheme
  • Becoming self-employed:
    • Freelancing
    • Taking on project or contract-based work
    • Setting up your own business or franchise
  • Exploring other opportunities
    • Retraining into a new career
    • Studying to gain extra qualifications
    • Volunteering within potentially interesting organisations or sectors
    • Applying to be an intern or for work experience

If you’re not sure where to look, our article 7 ways to return to work will give you some ideas.

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