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Deciding on your career

It is tempting to take the first job you can with little thought to how it will relate to your long-term career plan. Try to resist panic moves like this, and while remaining realistic about your chances of getting that ‘dream’ job, steer yourself into a first post that will set you up for the future.

Make it count
  • Be clear about how much effort you are prepared to put into finding a job and making an effective application.
  • Build on your skills and knowledge while at university.
  • Consider a series of steps to your chosen career if initial entry is difficult – it is acceptable to start from the bottom and work your way up the ladder or move sideways.

Visit us at the PDC and make an appointment to see a Consultant.

Thinking sensibly about your options now will help you in today’s competitive climate, where employers expect candidates to be more career focused.

Don’t miss our programme of workshops, skills sessions, and Employer in the Foyer pop ups. Look at the programme of events and register to attend as many as you can. Make your time at Brunel count.

So, what can you do? 

Step 1: Get to know yourself

A key part of knowing yourself is understanding:

  • The skills and qualities you have to offer.
  • The activities that interest, enthuse, and fulfil your ambitions.
  • What energises you and helps you to take in information, make decisions, and tackle the challenges life throws at you.
  • How other people see you.

For many people, getting to know themselves is a challenging process. There are many websites that can help develop the self-awareness you need to inform your early career decisions.

  • HumanMetrics is based on Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs typological approach to personality.
  • Keirsey.com offers a type-based personality theory. This site provides information about the theory and enables you to take The Keirsey Temperament Sorter test. Upon completion, you receive a mini report with the option to purchase a more detailed version.
  • Team Technology offer a personality questionnaire based on the Myers-Briggs model. You will receive a results report and have the option to pay to take further tests.
Current students can head over to Blackboard Learn to view the full video on confidence, made by Helen Slingsby, one of our Careers Consultants.


Step 2: Consider your options

When you understand your strengths, skills, motivations and interests, you'll find it easier to consider your options. 

  • Research and evaluate different career options by weighing up the pros and cons of each. Consider whether these are career options you can build on and develop in the future.
  • Explore how your choices relate to your interests, skills, and your personal priorities.
  • Start thinking practically about the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. Do you lack any qualifications or experience that will need to be obtained? Will you need to develop certain skills in order to get ahead?

The Brunel Academic Skills (ASK) Support can help you improve your maths and numeracy skills through workshops or drop-ins for individuals. Visit their website to browse useful resources.

If you need help making choices then visit Mindtools, an organisation which offers resources to help you manage your career successfully, including a free package on making decisions.

Find out more

  • Seek help from the PDC – use our website and reference books, talk to your Careers Consultant, or attend the different events that we organise.
  • Use a computerised careers guidance system such as Prospects Career Planner: an easy-to-use interactive computer system, designed to help you explore key aspects of careers planning in a systematic way.
  • Also try TARGETjobs Careers Report (registration required): a similar system helping identify careers which match your interests, skills and abilities, and which also gives you the chance to take psychometric tests and see where you stand against other graduates.
  • CareerPlayer's Career Values test is designed to match you to potential roles but also links to video clips of professionals who are similar to you in terms of career focus, values and working styles.

Step 3: See what's out there

Start researching the careers that interest you in more detail. 

  • Look beyond the large companies – focus on small and medium sized employers (SME) as well. The 'big blue chip' companies that offer graduate training programmes attract lots of attention but there are plenty of other recruiters, equally keen to employ graduates, without the resources to advertise as widely.
  • Find out what careers are possible with your degree by visiting our Industry A-Z and What can I do with my degree on the Prospects website.
  • Learn about graduate jobs and work placements from Brunel students and graduates who have posted their stories on our iWork@ blog.
  • Careerplayer aims to help graduates find their ideal job, providing tips, advice and insider interviews across a wide range of sectors.

The PDC has free publications for you to take away giving information on graduate careers and industry sectors such as law, accountancy, engineering and finance. We also have a range of reference books including guides on how to get into industries such as media, finance and charity work. All books are available for students to use in the PDC premises but for students registered with the Disability & Dyslexia Service it is possible to arrange a short loan.

Step 4: Find employers and job vacancies

Finally, now you're ready to start looking for employers and job vacancies.

  • Your first place to look should be our Jobs Board. We advertise hundreds of graduate, part-time and voluntary work vacancies, available exclusively to Brunel students and graduates.
  • Free employer directories such as Prospects and TARGETjobs are available in our reception from the start of each academic year. You can also pick up a copy of the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers to see a breakdown of the career areas in which top employers are recruiting.
  • Attend Careers Fairs on campus. These are open to all students and graduates, and present a great opportunity to find out what recruiters are offering, what they expect from you, and how to stand out from the rest.
  • Join a professional networking site such as LinkedIn - setting up your own profile. Many large employers use the site to engage with potential graduate recruits. You can join interest groups, search for vacancies, and get involved in forums online.

Researching employers and specific careers is fundamental to making good career choices. Use the Industry A-Z to help you find information on a wide range of careers and industries.