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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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3 Refining your ideas: where to get information

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Figure 3 Refining your ideas

However clear you feel about your preferred work options, it is useful to test how well they match you as a person, your current circumstances and your life plans. In this section, you are invited to find out more about one type of work and what it would demand of you.

The two-step process that follows is designed to help you to do some early testing of your ideas. It will work best if you identify a particular type of work or career path that has so far emerged as one that interests you. For instance, you might have identified a career in the retail sector as something you feel would suit you. Alternatively, you might be interested in voluntary work and feel that working at a food bank, or other charity helping people, would be rewarding. Whatever your thoughts, you need to do a bit of finding out or ‘research’ on what the opportunities for this type of work are in practice.

To do this you need to know where to look, and help may not always come from the most obvious place. So, here’s a list of possible people or organisations that you could use, and what information you could find out from them.

Table 1
Source Description of information
Business columns of newspapers May include features forecasting which employment sectors will be recruiting or are in decline.
Your local contactsMay hear of local jobs and, if they know you are looking, mention it to you.
National Careers Service websiteA government website that includes information about training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Job Centre PlusAs well as paid job vacancies, they have information on volunteer work and your rights in relation to seeking work.
Friends and family They may have direct knowledge of the type of work you want to do, know if their organisations are recruiting or making people redundant in some areas, or may have good contacts to whom they can introduce you.
Jobs pages of local newspapersGives a good idea of what employers are looking for in certain types of work, and a sense of how frequently those jobs are advertised.
Professional institute magazines Advertise jobs specific to their profession and this can give you a good idea of specialisms within the field.
Professional institute websites Explain the knowledge and skills requirements for the type of work and the training available.
Organisation’s own websites Many have a ‘careers’ or ‘working with us’ section that tells you what kind of work environment they offer and the types of job for which they recruit.
Office of National Statistics Provides information on jobs in the public and private sectors, and gives an analysis of the UK workforce jobs by sector. It also looks at industry changes.
Social media networks A new and developing source of information about jobs and companies.
Radio programmesLocal programmes might report on site closures or new businesses starting up in the area, for example.
Community notice boards They will occasionally carry job advertisements for local jobs, such as acting as clerk to the council.
Local Chamber of Commerce Through the people you meet via this network, you may hear of jobs that are not advertised. This is true of many professional networks.

For the purposes of these next activities, you will need to select three of these potential sources of information that you can use now. This will vary depending on where you are located but may mean that you are limited currently to searching on the internet. You can explore other useful sources at another time.

Activity 4 Who would you ask?

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Spend a few moments thinking about which three sources you want to consult and why. Write your choices and reasons in your notebook.

For instance, you might be interested in a retail career and decide to look at supermarket or department store websites. You might also want to check if there is a specialist magazine for the retail sector and, if there is, to visit your local library to look at a few copies.


As you completed this activity, you might have found that your reason for choosing certain sources was simple curiosity because they directly relate to the type of work you are interested in, or they are easy or practical, or enjoyable for you in some way. You might also have had reasons that hint at what you would like to find out. For example, if you are interested in combining your work as a counsellor with your love of education, you might want to find out if your local college or university uses counsellors.

Before going to your sources for information it is vital to start out knowing what you want to find out. You’ll be helped with how to organise your thoughts on this in the next section.