Whether you’re a school leaver, after a career change or returning to the workforce, everyone negotiates a career choice in their own unique way. Effective career decisions can help you to adapt to change, and take control of your career and opportunities that may arise. However, the process can be daunting as other factors may be involved, including how to manage yourself and/or your family, your lifestyle, your personal interests and your financial future.
There are a range of decision-making strategies and models that can help, however, one industry-recommended model is based on the CASVE Cycle, which was initially devised in 2003 by James P. Sampson and his colleagues from Florida State University. It focuses on action-oriented steps broken down into five stages — Communication, Analysis, Synthesis, Valuing and Execution. It has been recommended as a great career decision-making model, and here we look at the process behind the theory in terms of five steps that can help you make the right career choice.
#1 – Knowing when you need to make a choice
The first step on a career journey is knowing you need to make a career choice, and a good indicator is if there is a gap between your current situation and where you’d like to be.
If you are a school leaver, there are lots of exciting opportunities ahead, but it can also be difficult choosing what to do next. The Australian Government’s School Leavers Information Kit is full of lots of insightful information so you can make your next move. You may choose to jump straight into the world of work and start building your career or gain qualifications or pursue some further study.
If you are already employed, there are a range of cues that can alert you to realising it’s time for a career change. According to Seek they include if you:
- Dread going to work
- Envy other people’s success
- Have stopped “thinking big”
- Are never challenged
- Have no work-life balance
- Don’t feel appreciated or listened to
#2 – Understanding yourself and your options
The second step to making a career choice involves being clear about your abilities, skills and your career interests. This can include:
- Spending some time thinking about your personal situation, what you value and what you hope to achieve from your career.
- Creating a “mind map”of things you do and don’t enjoy doing, which can help you rule out any unsuitable career directions.
- Thinking carefully about your short and long-term goals (and making sure they’re MA.R.T). Focus on the things you’d like to do more of and ask yourself whether you will want to keep doing these things in one, two and five years.
- Understanding what you are best at (and not so good at) both personally and professionally.
- Considering the way you like to work. Do you prefer to work autonomously or within a team? Where and how would you like to work? For example, is part-time work or a job in the “gig economy” an option?
- Knowing what type of industry and company you’d like work for, including what aspects about both will be most important to you.
- Understanding your personality type. The popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you identify your strengths and attributes.
- Using labour market information which will help you choose a career with good potential for future job earnings and security.
Tools available to assist decision-making
Regardless of whether you are a school leaver, a job-changer or returning to the workforce after a period of time, the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment also has a range of valuable tools that can help you understand and refine some of these decisions. They include:
- Your Career website — can help you explore and make decisions about your career options. You can research more than 1000 different types of jobs, take a Career Quiz or Skills Match quiz, learn about the skills needed in different jobs, and understand what jobs are in your area. A full list of their resources is available here.
- Job Outlook website — allows you to explore your job options, match your work style and interests to potential jobs, and learn about job prospects, tasks and pay.
- Labour Market Insights website — will give you insights from the National Skills Commission to help you better understand your local labour market, future workforce changes, and current and emerging skills needs.
- National Careers Institute — works to ensure Australians have access to high quality career information and support regardless of their stage of life or age.
- My Future website — Helps secondary students explore career pathways, including providing tools that can help with career decision making.
#3 – Expanding and narrowing your options
This step in making a career choice is about expanding and then narrowing your list of options.
- Researching your possible options including on careers pages, websites and industry/educational blogs.
- Finding descriptions for current jobs that are available in your area of interest and cross matching any personal requirements with your own skillset.
- Considering following companies that align with your values and interests on social media and/or LinkedIn.
- Engaging with a careers counsellor to fine-tune and/or clarify your options further. They will be able to explain the benefits and drawbacks as you consider your career change, and help you research any options you might not have previously considered.
#4 – Choosing an option
Once you’ve solidified your career choice, whether it be a study subject, job or career, it’s time to fine-tune your options before you execute your intentions. “Implementation intention” is a valuable strategy that can help you follow through with the goals you set yourself. Introduced by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer, it is essentially an “if-then” plan that works on structuring goals around statements like, “If X happens, I will do Y in order to achieve Z”. One of its key proposals is that you will cover more contingencies and be better prepared for whatever comes your way.
Whether you are contemplating your future career for the first time or a change to your current role or industry, success involves risk. But fear of both failure and success can be debilitating. Some of the most common career fears are, fear of:
- What others think
- Taking on too much
- The unknown
See page 20 of our The Ultimate ‘A to Z’ Career Change Guide for more insightful detail on how to overcome career fear.
#5 – Implementing your career choice
The fifth step is all about putting your career choice into action. This involves creating a flexible plan and actioning steps to put into effect your preferred option/s. Steps to take that can help you apply for a job include:
- Researching jobs online. Job vacancies are largely advertised online — in many cases via an internal or external recruiter. You can find out more about job search websites in Australia here. You can also access Workforce Australia, which is the new employment service delivered by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), which will replace jobactive in July 2022. It has stated that it will, “help Australians find and keep a job, change jobs or create their own job”.
- Researching organisations that are hiring directly. Before applying for a job, ensure you have conducted research on the company. Navigate to their “about” page for valuable insights. Running the company’s name through a search engine can also give you information about current news and employee or client reviews. Networking with people who are employed with these organisations (LinkedIn is a valuable tool), can also help you gain an overall feel for the company culture, the particular skills they value, and an overview of the staff they employ.
- Tailor your CV for submission. This is probably the most crucial document when applying for jobs as it outlines your key strengths and experience. Here are some tips from Seek on writing your resume. Also consider whether you need to include a cover letter — prospective employers will typically inform you if they need one when you apply.
- Once you’ve applied, follow-up if you can. If you applied via a recruiter, consider contacting them via an email regarding the status of your application …. But give them ample time to review it first!
- Make your career choice, but don’t forget to keep a close eye on future career progression and training opportunities. The Future of Work is ever-evolving so you who knows what’s around the corner!