Need to make a big career or study decision? Here’s how

by May 1, 2020

So you’ve reached that point where you have gathered information about your career or study options, and now you’re stalled at the point of making the decision. Truth is, you’ve been here before (and so has everybody else). Online neuroscience research suggests that an adult makes up to 35,000 conscious decisions per day, with 226.7 of these based solely on food!

The Process of Career Development involves completing activities that uncover information about: the self, the available options, the interpretation of information in order to make informed decisions, and (finally), taking action towards your chosen direction. You can kick-start your own career development journey by visiting the Career Action Plan in CareerHub.

It’s completely normal to feel some resistance about a decision that is going to dictate the rest of your degree or your initial life after university, but what can you do about it?

Applying a systematic approach to your career decisions can help you make an informed choice and increase your chance of success. The steps below will help you approach your career decision and feel confident with your choice.

The following steps will take you through the career decision making process using the UTS Careers Successful Decision Making Activity resource. Each of the numbered sections below correspond with a section in this resource, so make sure to write down your answers in the activity as you go!

1. Define the decision you need to make

Get into the nitty gritty and become clear about your options based on the completed activity, then add them into the ‘define the decision you need to make’ section of the Successful Decision Making Activity.

This could relate to selecting a major, internship or a career path to pursue post-study, or what job offer to pick if there is more than one on the table.

Then, set some SMART goals for making the decision. Effective SMART goals will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. Refer to the example below for some inspiration.

Increase my understanding of graduate design roles by completing information interviews with 4 people currently working in Design jobs in the next 2 weeks.”

A diagram of the SMART process

2. Establish an action plan

Access the Successful Decision Making Activity to start working on your Action Plan. To do this, look at your SMART goals to define the activities that require completing, then follow the instructions on the page to set dates for their completion. Making your activities time bound will help you remain on track with the activities you need to complete to support your decision.

3. Clarify your values

Clarifying your values will help you to become clear about what you want from a career, and provides insight into the type of opportunities you should consider. For example: is recognition important to you? Are you looking for job security? Or an organisation with sustainable values?

Complete the Work Values Test to understand what matters to you.

4. Identify the alternatives

Are you set on one single idea? There are a number of different possibilities that could work for your future. This part of the Decision Making Activity encourages you to Identify and consider alternative options. Do some investigation to find out what else you would consider.

two circles with text

5. Discover probable outcomes

Discovering probable outcomes encourages you to explore the alternative options you identified in point 4. This can be approached by completing further research and imagining what it would be like to work or study in areas that are currently not your primary choice.

Some great ways to complete research on your probable outcomes include watching career videos on the myfuture YouTube channel, completing information interviews with people working in the profession or asking to shadow somebody working in your area of interest. Or post your query on the Professional Mentoring Platform to receive responses from industry professionals, UTS staff or recent graduates.

Make sure to enter your results in the ‘Discover probable outcomes’ section.

6. Eliminate alternatives systematically

Keep going, you’re nearly there! So far, you have completed a comprehensive assessment of your options, now it’s time to decide.

Compare your career or study options, and push the alternatives that are least appropriate to the bottom of your list. You can come back to this list for reassessment at any time so move forward with the option (or options) you find most compelling.

7. Start the action

Congratulations, you have now gathered the information required to make an informed career or study decision! It’s now time to take the steps towards making your decision a reality.

By this point you’ve done the work, you’ve had the conversations, you’ve explored the possibilities and you have the information. Take a moment to sit back and reflect on how this feels.

Think about setting a goal for what you’ll do next, and jot it down in the Successful Decision Making Activity.  Having an established goal gives you a future point to focus on, and can help you stick with the decision you’ve made.

Still stuck?

If you need further help with making your career or study decision, UTS Careers can help! You are now able to book a Virtual Drop-In appointment via UTS CareerHub by clicking here. These appointments will help you with any aspects of the Successful Decision Making Activity, and offer an abundance of other career-related topics to speak about.

 Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Lauren Hanly

Lauren Hanly

Recruitment Advisor

Lauren is a creative and empathetic careers education professional, currently working as a Recruitment Advisor for UTS Careers. She understands that marketing yourself to employers can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience! Lauren has worked in client-facing roles for the duration of her career. She has 9 years’ of HR experience in the IT and Tech sectors completing high volume recruitment, organisational redesign and HR project work.