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Career planning: Research your options

After reading the article Career change: What you need to know and making the lists recommended, it is now time to research the options available to you.

Research sources include books, websites, career expos, newspapers and professional or industry groups.


Career Profile Library features hundreds of articles profiling people and their jobs. The A-Z list is incredibly varied. As real people were interviewed for the stories, the Career Profile Library provides real life advice on why a particular job is satisfying.

My Future is one of my favorite websites. A collaboration between the federal Government and state and territory governments, this site provides a snap shot of what is involved in different job roles. Go to the home page, click on The Facts (top right), then Occupations then type in the job role that interests you. This will bring up a profile. You can then drill down to state/territory specific information.

Job Outlook is a section of the Australian Government site Job Search. It provides top level information on the demand for a certain skill set and the salary range for specific job roles.

Job Explorer is another section of the same site. It breaks down job roles into skills and knowledge required, tasks and related job roles.

Job Juice is predominately aimed at young people and is great for school students. Sections include "Choose a direction"; available support programs, a young person's rights at work and more.

Job Guide - Parents can download a special advice guide on how to help their child make career decisions. Click here .

Also check the Wednesday and Saturday employment sections of newspapers and clip any career profile that interests you.


Career FAQs is an excellent book series. Each book focuses on a different career option and the reason I like these books is because they are so comprehensive and draw on "real" information from real people. The Career FAQs team assigns a different author to each book who then interviews real people either doing the job or employing people doing the job. It looks at the tasks involved in a particular job, the education and training required, career path information and much, much more. There are more than 40 titles including books on accounting, banking, publishing, nursing, digital media, teaching, psychology, design, advertising, health, building & construction, marketing - and the list goes on. There are also specialty titles such as Work from Home, Going Global, Extreme and Saving the World.

What color is your parachute? by Richard Bolles (note the American spelling of color/colour) is still considered the "bible" of career choice. However, browse the "business" or "personal development" aisle of your local bookstore for other titles. Mr Bolles is American but we have many good home grown authors right here.

Manage your own career by Victorian-based Warren Frehse and published by Pearson Prentice Hall is full of good ideas. The book includes a "career check up" to help you bring a sense of "... energy, renewal, and a sense of purpose back into your working life." The book also promises practical steps and real-life case studies to help you work out what type of work is a "natural" fit for you, how to tap into your "hidden talents" and transform mid-career "into satisfying solutions".

Another good source is Bill Lang's DVD Winning the career you deserve .

Specialist Advice

There is also quite a bit of specialist career information around. For example, famous music director John Foreman has written Your Guide to Unlocking the Australian Music Industry, the CSIRO have a website on careers in the food industry and the Australian Institute of Food Science has FoodWorX about science careers in the food and beverage industry.

Associations are often very active in providing information on career options. Also, some associations offer discounted membership to university students and graduates. What better way to make valuable contacts?

There are too many associations to mention here in full but some examples would be:

Australian Computer Society

Public Relations Institute of Australia

Australian Institute of Marketing

Engineers Australia and

Australian Human Resources Institute .
Some professions or sectors have several associations such as accounting:

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia (The ICAA's site for school students and grads)

National Institute of Accountants

CPA Australia

Make use of the State Library or regional reference library nearest to you. Australian libraries keep Australian yearbooks, magazines, books and newspapers published in a particular state or territory. For example, if you were interested in media then the State Library is the place to go to view an otherwise costly tome like the B&T Yearbook, which lists all the advertising agencies and media organisations in Australia. There are a great many industry directories and trade magazines that provide a great source of information on people, companies and trends in a given industry sector. Make use of our libraries.

Career shows

Use the Career Diary section of to check out the dates for career shows in your state. When you visit a Career Expo, make sure you quiz exhibitors about the job roles and career paths they offer; entry level positions as well as mid-career change entry roles; training and development opportunities and the roles they anticipate will be most in demand in their industry. You will find a link to Career Diary in the left hand navigation column.


Recruiting season for grads is getting earlier every year but March to May is peak career show season for grads. Don't wait until your final year to start attending shows and grilling employers on the career paths they offer and what they want grads to offer in return.

People you meet

When you meet people doing interesting jobs, don't be shy about asking questions. Most people love talking about themselves and what they do.

Key questions would be:

. What's involved in your job?
. What sort of qualifications and personality traits do you need to succeed at the job?
. How did you get your job?

Study options

The TAFE handbook can be found at most news agencies or use the Internet to find your closest TAFE. University websites are also a great source of information.

By Kate Southam, Editor of

For more useful tips read:

How to find professional help to find information on career coaches and free career information centres.

Tips for return to work mums - including how to cover resume gaps.

Advice for mature aged workers - this includes a list of employment agencies specialising in mature aged workers.

Also check out the Job hunting strategy section.


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