Researching Career Change Ideas

Different Ways of Discovering What’s Out There

OK, so you have done a lot of research on yourself, but what about researching your career change ideas?

Maybe there are a few new career ideas you are thinking about and would like to find out more? Or perhaps you are here because you haven't got a clue about what you want to do and don’t know where to begin?

Now is the time to turn the spotlight outwards and find out more about the opportunities 'out there'.


There are many different ways of doing your career research and the wider you spread the net and the more different strategies you use to turn up new ideas the better.

Many people start off on the wrong foot by immediately thinking about what they can't do. Try to avoid that trap!

This first stage of exploration should be as open minded as possible. Make a commitment to approach your career change research with curiosity.

If you find yourself saying 'yes, but...' to an idea, just switch off the doubting Thomas mindset for a while and hang on to the ideas as possibilities just for now

So where to look?

If you have got some ideas already

You probably know some of the obvious candidates. If you have some job titles in mind, try the following:

  • .se the internet. A simple Google search will turn up a number of useful career directories. In the UK, Prospects and the National Careers Service are good places to start. In the US, try O*Net Online, and in Australia, My Future.
  • Look at careers books available from the local library or browse the shelves in a good bookstore. Be aware that books may go out of date quite quickly so double check any info you glean, especially from library books.
  • Newspapers can be a great resource. When your career change ideas are quite clear, you can start by looking for job ads for the kind of work you are interested in. Send of for the job application pack, even if you have no intention of applying at this stage. What skills, knowledge and experience are they looking for?
    But don’t just look at job ads. Read the editorial relating to the area of work that interests you. Find out what is going on in the sector. What are the current ‘big issues’? Who are the key companies or organisations?
  • Through this research, you may discover that there are relevant professional organisations you could contact. The bigger ones will have lots of relevant information for you. They may even produce detailed information on how to enter that area of work and how to qualify if necessary.
  • Professional organisations may run seminars, talks or conferences that you could attend. Take advantage of these as a great way of finding out more about what is going on in the sector and also as an opportunity to meet with people working in the field already. Make a point of talking to people about your career change ideas when you go along so you make the most of these events.
  • These professional bodies may also produce a trade magazine or professional journal. You may be able to get this from a local library or subscribe yourself if it is not too expensive. These will give you really focused information about this area of work and may also be a source of vacancy information.
  • Ask friends, and friends of friends if they know people who work in that field. Then make contact with them. Ask if you can have a chat over the phone or meet up with them for coffee to pick their brains.
    These informational interviews can be a fantastic way of getting insider information about an area of work or a particular job. You will find that most people are flattered by your interest and are only too ready to give you some of their time to help you to investigate some of your career change ideas.
  • Attend formal networking events where you can meet people from a particular professional area. You can find out more about networking here.
  • Informal contacts like this can lead on to the possibility of work experience. Don’t ask for much initially. What about just a half day of work shadowing just to get a taster. Then you will get a sense of whether a longer spell of work experience might be an option.

If you haven’t got a clue

You will find that many of the strategies listed above can also be useful if your career change ideas are very hazy. Instead of seeking out information about a particular job, just open your mind to options and possibilities.

This is the purpose of the Career Ideas Log mentioned elsewhere on this site.

  • Newspapers, books and magazines
    . Just scan these regularly for any ideas that catch you eye or capture your imagination. Don’t necessarily look for particular jobs. Even broad ideas such as ‘work with people’, ‘travel’ or ‘creativity’ are worth recording at this stage. And again, use both the editorial content and the job ads as a source of inspiration.
  • Friends and other contacts. Think about the people you know. What do they do? What appeals to you about their jobs? What aspects of their work interests you? Make a point of talking to people about their jobs so you can move beyond the stereotype and unpack what jobs really involve.
  • Just keeping your eyes and mind open to what people do to make a living can be a help when you are exploring a job change. When you are shopping or commuting, think about the jobs of the people you encounter. When you are watching a film or TV, what work are the characters involved in. There are ideas and leads all around you if you just keep alert.

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