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Assess your occupational options

Assess your occupational options

As was noted in the previous section, decision making is difficult. It can be helpful to employ several different approaches. Use any that are helpful to you and your situation.

You might prioritize your options according to how closely they match your overall goal or vision. Or you might compare them in terms of advantages, disadvantages, and potential outcomes. A pros/cons list can be a very effective tool. The visual impact of seeing the positives and negatives of each option can be especially revealing: it is not always a matter of which list is the longest, as some factors may emerge as having more significance than you previously thought. Assigning scores, or weights, to each of the criteria used in your comparison can also lead to greater clarity: the option with the highest resulting total score would likely be your "best" choice, at this time.

Regardless of the approach you use, if you discover that two or more of your career options compare equally or closely, it is a good idea to re-examine your self-assessment criteria as they relate to the options being compared: have you included all criteria that are the most important to you? Have you accurately and fairly assessed each option against these criteria? If this re-examination does not result in any change in scores or weighting, gaining first-hand experience in one or more of these occupational areas may help with the decision-making process. Activities such as job shadowing, volunteering, working part-time, or participating in an internship can provide a better sense of whether or not an occupation is a good choice for you.

Once you have a "winner," how do you feel about it? If you are excited and ready to proceed with it, that's great! If your reaction is less than enthusiastic or you are disappointed that one of the other options did not emerge as the strongest choice, again consider re-examining your self-assessment criteria and their comparison to the alternatives you are considering. Taking this step may provide additional insight. Ultimately, it is important that you feel this is the right choice for you, at this time in your life, and that you are motivated to pursue it.

If you are not enthused about the occupation that emerges with the highest score or are unable to make a decision at this point, you may find it helpful to book a Career Development appointment through Centre for Career Development to discuss your situation and options.

Remember that you will likely have more than one career path in your life. If you are struggling between two choices (or more), though you will need to choose one career direction initially, perhaps the other(s) will remain future options for you. Whether a change in career direction requires major or minor changes in your life, most career shifts are possible if adequately prepared for.

Interested in learning more? Attend the Exploring Career Pathways workshop to discover more tips from a Career Advisor.

University of Waterloo

Centre for Career Development