At this point in your career planning process, you probably have a sense of your values, interests and skills, and you’ve identified some career options that interest you.
The next step is to get ready to choose and pursue a career option. This involves:
- comparing and evaluating your options
- finding out about the learning and experience your choice requires
- preparing to handle challenges
You may be comfortable trusting your instincts and going with the option that feels best to you. Or you may prefer to use the method in this section to compare and evaluate your options objectively and base your decision on what you find out.
Use the factors and options comparison chart to help you organize information about your options and compare them systematically. You may need to copy the chart to a larger page so you can add more columns and give yourself more space to fill in comments.
- Write down the options you’re thinking about, 1 per column. For example, your options could be occupations, such as plumber, millwright and boilermaker. Or your options could be post–secondary programs, such as BA in English, Journalism diploma and BA in Journalism. Add more columns if you’re thinking about more than 3 options. If you don’t know what your options are, you probably need to do some research. See Explore Your Occupational Options.
- In the “Factors to compare” column, write down your top 3 factors in each category. For example, under “My interests” you might write “solving problems, using my imagination, creating things.” If you can’t identify your values, interests, abilities and so on, it’s a good idea to do some self–assessment. See Get to Know Yourself.
- In the column for each option, note how well that particular option reflects each of the factors you have listed. If you don't know how well an option satisfies a specific factor, you need to do more research to find out. See Explore Your Occupational Options.
- When you have evaluated how each option satisfies each factor, compare the options against each other, based on the notes you’ve made. The option with the most positive comments will be the one that most clearly reflects the things that matter to you.
You can modify the chart for different comparisons you want to make. For example, if you know what program you want to take and need to choose from several post-secondary schools that offer it, change the factors to items like “learning environment,” “location,” “cost” and so on.
Effective decisions about career options seldom rely only on logic—they must also feel right. When there’s no clear winner among your options, it may be a good idea to do some additional self-assessment and research.
Find out about the learning and experience the option requires
For many career options, you’ll need to meet specific learning requirements or levels of experience. These could be formal learning situations, such as diploma, degree or apprenticeship programs, or informal arrangements, such as mentorship or on–the–job training.
Find out about the learning and experience required for the option you’re interested in by searching for the occupation in OCCinfo.
Prepare to handle challenges
You may face some challenges as you pursue your career option—paying for your education, arranging accommodations if you have a disability, finding day care and so on. Planning how you’ll handle these situations will help you get ready to focus on your goals.
In the career planning process, getting ready to make your career move can sometimes bring you face to face with difficult decisions and hard realities. If you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed at this point, you may want to seek some career planning advice by calling the Alberta Supports Contact Centre.
Be ready to take action
When your top–rated option is also the one you feel best about; when you know what that option requires; when you’ve considered the challenges you may face; then you’re ready to move on to the next step in the career planning process—taking action.