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All You Need To Know About Career Choices

Editorial Team
12/10/2020 8:27 AM


According to Arnold (1997:21), a career is a sequence of employment-related positions, roles, actions, and experiences. A career defines how one sees oneself in the context of one’s social environment, in terms of one’s plans, one’s past accomplishments or failures and one’s present competencies and attributes (Raynor & Entin, 1982:262). UNESCO (2002:4) defined a career as the interaction of work roles and other life roles over a person’s lifespan including both paid and unpaid work. Career is also seen as the progress and actions taken by a person throughout a lifetime, especially related to that person’s occupations (Oloasebikan & Olusakin)

major part of people‘s life is spent in occupational activities and these
pursuits do more than simply provide income for livelihood (Bandura, 2002:279).
Career guidance is widely accepted as a powerful and effective method of
bridging the gap between education and the world of work and in informing an
individual’s career choices (Ibrahim, Wambiya, Olaka
& Raburu, 2014:301; Ajufo, 2013:312). In this article, I explain how to choose the right career for you and how
family and the school system affect career choices.

Due to limited employment opportunities and lack of
career guidance people have ended up in careers that they do not enjoy.
Considering that we spend most of our time at work it is in our best interest
to choose careers to which we are well suited. There
are several factors that affect a person’s choice of career. It is however
better to look for a career that you are going to enjoy. For most people
understanding the world of work and making realistic plans after high school is
not an easy task.


Families play a big
role in choosing careers. In some instances parents want their children to
follow those careers they followed themselves. This will not always work simply
because other important factors affect our career choices. Without professional
advice, parents can lead their children into careers that they will never enjoy
and in some instances fail to excel at. Choosing a career should begin early in
life to enable proper planning.

Research on family influence has increased rapidly
during the last couple of years, yet an understanding of family influences on career choices remains sparse. Much of the research on
family influence focus on individual parents’ careers, for instance, mothers or
fathers influencing children to take up a certain career. This research
considers family members’ influence on career choices which
includes parents, siblings, and extended family members. The first interactions
of a child with people take place within its home among members of its family
who include parents, siblings, and relatives (Bollu-steve & Sanni,
2013:92). A child is affected by several family-related factors such as the
marital relationship of the parents, the socio-economic status of the family,
the atmosphere of the home (whether parents are warm or hostile), the
environmental condition, occupational status of the parents, and the number of
siblings in the family (Bollu-steve & Sanni, 2013:92). The family dynamics,
therefore, play a pivotal role in the career readiness of the students.


Studies revealed that parents influence career choices among high school students. African studies,
for example, in Kenya (Mokoro, Wambiya & Aloka, 2014:1465) and Nigeria
(Abiyo & Eze, 2015:26; Abiola, 2014:231), have highlighted that many of the
settings in which children and youth participants are dependent on the choices
of their parents. Thus, parents’ decisions, choices of where to live, what to
provide materially and relationally in the home, and how to structure
out-of-school time for children, impacts children’s development in ways that
are meaningful for later success in the world of work (Abiola, 2014:231).
Beggs, Bsutham, and Taylor (2008:391) refer to “helicopter parents” who tend to
intervene in their children’s college life from choosing a university to
helping them choose individual courses. In this case, parents are seen as
inseparable from their children’s career choices.



Career guidance is offered at institutions of
learning such as schools, colleges, and universities among others. High schools
are a transition to higher institutions of learning and the world of work so
they have a critical role in assisting students to choose careers (Baloch &
Shah, 2014:547). If students have too many choices of careers or have not made
a decision on which career to take, school career guidance helps select their
study paths and in identifying their potential strengths to enhance their
competitiveness for positions (Dodge & Welderndael, 2014; Sun & Yuen,

Krumboltz’s theory of Social Learning Theory of
career development, emphasizes teaching people career development techniques so
that they can give career guidance in schools. Similarly, Lapan, Tucker, Kim,
and Fosciulek (2003:329) stated that the transition from high school to university
or the world of work has been understood as one of the most difficult
developmental challenges confronting adolescents and that schools play a
pivotal role in guiding the students towards a career. The current study sought
to find out whether career guidance offered in schools influences students’
career choices.

Edwards and Quinter (2011:85) emphasized the influence of Kenyan schools
in students’ choices of careers when they argue that it is in schools where
students learn about and explore various careers before they make career
choices. Korrie and Wafula’s (2012:87) study highlighted the influence of the
school on choosing a career.


Step 1: Self-Evaluation

Before you can choose the right career, you must learn about yourself.
Your values, interests, soft skills, and aptitudes, in combination with
your personality type, make some occupations a good fit for you and others
completely inappropriate. Use self-assessment
, and career tests to
gather information about your traits and, subsequently, generate a list of
occupations that are a good fit based on them. Some people choose to work
with a career
 or other career development professionals who can
help them navigate this process.

Step 2: Make
a List of Occupations to Explore

You probably have multiple lists of occupations in front of you at this
point—one generated by each of the self-assessment tools you used. To keep
yourself organized, you should combine them into one master list. First, look
for careers that appear on multiple lists and copy them onto a blank page.
Title it "Occupations to Explore." Your self-assessments ​indicated
they are a good fit for you based on several of your traits, so they're worth

Next, find any occupations on your lists that appeal to you. They may be
careers you know a bit about and want to explore further. Also, include
professions about which you don't know much. You might learn something

Step 3:
Explore the Occupations on Your List

Find job
 and educational, training, and licensing requirements in
published sources. Learn about advancement opportunities. Use
government-produced labor market
 to get data about earnings and job outlook.

Step 4:
Create a "Short List"

Now you have more information, start to narrow down
your list even further. Based on what you learned from your research so far,
begin eliminating the careers you don't want to pursue any further. You should
end up with two to five occupations on your "shortlist."

If your reasons for finding a career unacceptable
are non-negotiable, cross it off your list. Remove everything with duties that
don't appeal to you. Eliminate careers that have weak job outlooks.
Get rid of any occupation if you are unable or unwilling to fulfill the
educational or other requirements, or if you lack some of the soft skills
necessary to succeed in it.

Step 5: Conduct Informational

When you have only a few occupations left on your list, start doing more in-depth research. Arrange to meet with people who work in the occupations in which you are interested. They can provide firsthand knowledge about the careers on your shortlist. Access your network, including LinkedIn, to find people with whom to have these informational interviews.

Carl Tapi is an Organisational Development Consultant at
Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources
consulting firm. visit our website at

Editorial Team

This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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