How to make a career decision

Find out how you can compare options you're interested in, get advice and pick the right career for you.

Compare your options

If you're choosing between several options, take a look at each one and ask yourself these important questions.

  • How well does this option fit with my skills, values, personality and interests?
  • Can I grow in this career?
  • How will this option affect the rest of my life – my family, friends, interests and other time commitments?

Use our pros and cons worksheet to help you consider all your options.

Ask for help and advice from other people

Talking to other people about which option might be best can help you see things in a new light. 

People you could talk to include:

  • your family
  • your friends – they may have been in a similar situation, and can tell you what affected their choices
  • a school career adviser or a career consultant
  • course advisers at universities and polytechs
  • people working in the job or industry you are considering – they may help you get a better idea of whether you're right for the role.

Talking to parents about careers – video

How do you talk to your parents about careers? Five students discuss how they convinced their parents to let them do the career they want (video – 2.27mins).

Talking to parents about careers – hear how these students handled it

Shevaun: I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher and my Dad had other ideas or plans for me. He was concerned that becoming a teacher I wouldn’t make enough income for the type of life that I live or like to live. My advice to those who have pressures or expectations from others would be: think about whose future it is – it’s not theirs, it’s yours and if that’s what you want to do then do it.

Shannon: My parents were very supporting of what I wanted to do, which was I had no idea what I wanted to do. So my advice if your parents are pressuring you to study something you’re not interested in, is to gather information about what you want to study and pursue an argument with them and show them the benefits of your chosen career.

TC: People thought you’re just going to go study straight away after school. But then the likes of, for me I had rugby as well, to consider. That’s why I ended up staying around the Tasman region because I ended up getting an opportunity here so I had to consider what was going to make me happy.

Amy: Back in the day, probably around Year 10 or 11, I was really into my music, I still am, but my mother informed me that it probably would not get me a career.

Francis: So yeah, I applied to do music because it’s what I was passionate for. You’re always gonna get people asking you if you’ve got back-up plans and whatnot especially if you’re doing a course like studying music.

Amy: So I looked to other things. I originally looked at science and zoology. I wanted to be a surgeon at one point. I just kind of kept my options open from there.

Francis: If you’re feeling pretty pressured from perhaps your parents and you know if you want to go overseas and take a gap year and your parents think it’s not really that good of an idea cos they have a different opinion, I reckon you should just make a slideshow and just give them twenty good reasons why you want to do what you want to.

Consider jobs in demand

When faced with a few options, check out if there are shortages of the job in New Zealand – these jobs are in demand and it may be easier to find work.

What if you're still not certain?

Sometimes you may look at all of your options and find that none are right for you.

That's okay too – there are more possibilities out there and you may change your career throughout your life.

Updated 24 Jan 2019