Help Finding Your Career Path

Volunteering while looking for work

Volunteering is a great way to develop and learn new skills while you are looking for a job. It could even increase your chances of finding work. Find out more, including information about ‘Work Together’ – the new help you can get with volunteering.

Voluntary work

There are many benefits of volunteering. It is a great way of getting into a working environment which could help you:

  • develop new skills
  • gain experience
  • get training in new areas of work
  • explore career interests
  • increase your contacts, which could provide job leads
  • build your confidence
  • develop and enhance your CV

Volunteering is also a great way to support your community and can make a big difference locally.

Refresh your skills, discover new job opportunities

Finding a job can be a challenge, but having the right skills can make a big difference. Find out what learning and support is available, the different sectors you can work in and what other people have achieved.

Which career is right for you?

Finding the right career can be hugely rewarding, so it’s worth putting some effort into career planning. Start by thinking about what motivates you as a person, and then identify career’s that match your skills and interests.

Finding a career to suit you

While it can be tempting to skip straight to looking at specific career’s, it’s often a good idea to first spend some time thinking about what motivates you as a person.

What are your interests, inside and outside work – and what are you looking for from a career? Once you’ve worked this out, you can start building up a picture of your ideal job – then find out which career’s match it most closely.

Career planning: where to start

Unless you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to do, it can be difficult to know where to start. And if you do have a career in mind, how do you know whether you’ve considered all your options?

As a starting point, you could try sitting down with a piece of paper and listing:

  • courses you’ve taken in the past, or are taking now
  • any jobs you’ve had, including voluntary work
  • interests outside work
  • any other significant experiences, like travelling

Then ask yourself:

  • why you chose to do them
  • which parts you really enjoyed
  • which parts you found frustrating or boring
  • which parts you were best at
  • which parts you found a challenge
  • what other people have said about your contribution
  • what other people have told you you’re good at

You should start to see some patterns emerging: the types of skills you enjoy using, the sort of environment you perform best in and the types of people you like working with.

You can use this knowledge to help pinpoint areas of work you might enjoy.

Career considerations

Once you have a good idea of the career you want, the next step is to consider how you’re going to make it happen. As well as practical issues like location, salary and the job market, you may need to look into updating your skills and qualifications.

Things to consider when researching careers

After you’ve drawn up a shortlist of potential careers, there are a number of issues you’ll want to consider before putting your plan into action.


If you’re not prepared to move, you’ll need to consider location. You can probably find work as a travel agent in most large towns. If you’re looking to get into TV production there are likely to be more opportunities in London and other major cities.


You’ll have opportunities for promotion in most careers – but this doesn’t always translate to lots more pay. Is doing something you love more important than a large salary?

The job market

There’s competition in most careers, but some are more competitive than others. Careers that are seen as ‘glamorous’ can be difficult to get into without plenty of unpaid work experience, enthusiasm and a certain amount of luck. If you’re attracted to a career like this, are you prepared to put in the extra effort?

Career progression

What opportunities are there to progress within the careers you’re looking at? Once you’re in, how would you get to the next stage – either within the same line of work, or in a related field? What training is likely to be on offer?

Working conditions

What will doing the job actually mean day-to-day? If it involves meeting lots of people and that’s not your thing, you might want to think again. Would you prefer a job indoors, or wouldn’t you mind being outside in the depths of winter?

Your circumstances

Your circumstances needn’t limit your career options. There may be extra support available if, for example, you’re a lone parent or you have a disability. Follow the link below to find out more.

What’s important to you in a job?

Once you’ve considered the factors listed above, making a list may help focus your mind. Try listing those which are essential, and those which are ‘nice to have’. An example might look like this:

  1. Essential
  • involves dealing with people
  • close to your current home
  • earning at least R45,000 in your first year
  • ‘Nice to have’
    • in public or ‘not for profit’ sectors
    • opportunities to travel abroad
    • linked to a favorite subject you’ve studied

    What qualifications do you need?

    Looking at career profiles should give you a good idea of the qualifications you’ll need. See ‘Learning for work’ for information on how to get them.

    Adult learning or higher education can be a great way of opening up new career opportunities. Remember that it’s never too late to return to learning.

    Changing career

    Thinking about a career change? It can be difficult to work out whether you just need a new challenge, or if it’s time to take a completely different direction. If you need help with making the right decision, you can get free, impartial advice from a careers adviser.

    How satisfied are you with your career?

    Thinking about what you’ve achieved in your career so far can be a good place to start. Success means different things to different people, but you may want to consider whether you’ve:

    • enjoyed the challenges you’ve met in your work
    • been promoted in line with your talents
    • achieved a salary that lets you live the way you want
    • built up expertise in your line of work
    • made an impact – within your organization, or more widely
    • earned the respect of clients, customers and colleagues

    Is it time for a career change?

    Work out whether your current job has let you achieve the level of success you want. This should give you an idea of whether it’s time for a change.

    If you think a career change could benefit you, you’ll need to decide whether you want:

    • a new role in your current organization
    • a change of employer
    • a completely different career

    Asking yourself some of the following questions may help you to work this out.

    Are you enjoying the day-to-day tasks in your job?

    If you’ve recently stopped enjoying the day-to-day activities in your job, consider what may be behind this. You may just be bored and need a new challenge. You may want to think about moving to a different department within your organization – or to a different employer.

    If you actively dislike parts of your day-to-day job ask yourself whether what you do is typical for someone in your line of work. Do you dislike the job because you don’t get the chance to use all of your talents? If you’re dissatisfied with the job itself, changing department or employer may not improve things. You may want to consider a more radical change.

    Do you feel motivated by the people you work with?

    How do you get on with colleagues, managers, clients and others in your workplace?

    Consider whether any problems are due to personality clashes with particular individuals, the culture of the workplace – or the nature of the job itself.

    Do you like the people you work with but are frustrated by the actual work? You may want to look at changing your role within the organization or looking for a different role with a similar employer.

    Are you satisfied with your work-life balance?

    If you’re looking for a better fit with your family life, a change of job isn’t always necessary.

    Technology is making it possible for more people to spend time working from home. You may have the right to ask your employer to make arrangements for flexible working. Your employer can refuse if there’s a good business reason to do so.

    Taking the first steps towards a new career

    If you’re thinking about a complete change of career but you’re not sure which direction to take, start by asking yourself about your:

    • interests
    • skills
    • experience

    Finding a new job in the same line of work

    If you feel like a change but plan to stick with the same line of work, you can search online for current vacancies.

    Prospects, pay and other things to consider

    Different people want different things out of a career, but common considerations include opportunities to progress, salary and location.

    Public sector careers

    Working in the public sector means working for the government. A wide range of careers are available in the public sector, such as nursing, teaching, the armed forces and the emergency services.


    If you’ve got a good idea of where you want to go with your career and like the idea of earning while you learn, an Apprenticeship could be for you. You’ll get top quality training, developing skills and gaining qualifications on the job.