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Gathering your data

Here are some suggestions for places where you will be able to find out more about sectors, specific organisations, the types of jobs they offer, and so on:

Read about what jobs are like

  • Career sectors A-Z – all of the information you need to get started in researching a particular area of work, as well as lots of useful links to further resources.
  • You can browse actual roles by reading any suitable job listing, such as our Vacancies & Opportunities database, the Guardian, TARGETjobs, etc. If you know that you're interested in a particular sector, try to find out whether there's a specialist job listing you should be reading. Be sure to browse strategically. What do you like the sound of, and why? What job titles are new or unclear to you? How can you find out more about what people in those roles do? Which organisations are recruiting in your sector or preferred geographical area? What doesn't appeal to you, and why?
  • There are detailed descriptions of over 400 jobs on the Prospects website, each containing a summary of typical activities that the work entails, the salary you can expect to earn, entry requirements, training and career development opportunities, as well as employers and sources of vacancies.

Learn from other people's experience

  • The Careers Service puts on a packed diary of events, employer presentations, briefings, and skills sessions throughout the year. Come along and hear first-hand what it's like to work in different jobs, and what it takes to get recruited in those roles. Don't forget, too, that we have a library of podcasts from previous events.
  • GradLink, your College's alumni network, and LinkedIn are excellent ways to start conversations with people in different walks of life. Don't underestimate the power of talking to others, even if you don't know what you want to do. Ask friends and family whose jobs are unfamiliar to you to talk about their work, how they feel about it, etc. Does what they do match up with your strengths, interests, or values? Why does it, or doesn’t it? If you're looking into a certain sector, try to talk to people who have a variety of roles.
  • Unistats – find out what sectors graduates with the same degree as you have gone into. Are there any surprises on that list? What stood out for you? Are there any areas of work that you wouldn't consider in a million years? Why not?

Learn by doing

  • Spend time in an organisation. One of the best ways to find out about an area of work is to experience it for yourself, and there are an increasing range of opportunities for work experience, internships, insight schemes, shadow placements, etc. However, it's probably best to wait until you have a fairly clear idea of what you want to do – most employers are looking for a certain level of commitment, even for these shorter opportunities.
  • Just do something. This isn't meant as flippantly as it might sound. If you're struggling to make sense of your preferences and your options, then it may be that you need to spend some time working, whatever the specific nature of the work, in order to test things out via hands-on experience. You can find out a lot about yourself, develop your skills, and build your CV by doing almost anything – working in a bar, restaurant, shop, office, hotel, fast-food outlet, chalet, garden centre, and so on. At the very least, it's better than doing nothing.

Next section: Decide