Careers advice is important, of course. But where to get it. Careers advisers, publications and government sources are all out there. But here we add some more….

What Career?

The need for good careers advice is essential when deciding on which is the right career for you. Obvious? Probably, but it’s surprising just how little effort some people make in investigating something they could be doing for the next 40 years!

So we’ve put together some top tips to help you find the careers advice you’ll need to make the right choice.

1.Use those around you

Sounds obvious? – That’s because it probably is…

Friends and family 
In fact this is how many people find out about different careers and jobs. After all, if you can’t trust your family to give you the real low down on a job, who can you trust? Having said that, it’s fine if those closest to you do something that you’re actually interested in. If daddy is an account and mummy is a lawyer, and these are areas that you feel may appeal to you, that’s fine.

But many people may wish to look for something a bit different, perhaps less established, fresher and more modern. How many people do you know who work in developing video games or in renewable energy? – two examples of the types of jobs that won’t necessarily be common amongst those closest to you. But still, this doesn’t detract from the fact that family and friends are still a very valuable source of information, if used correctly.

Those that do the job
Similar to family and friends, this could be neighbours and those around you e.g. talking to a teacher at school about teaching or your local GP about medicine. Another advantage is that if you’re lucky you might even end up with some work experience to see if this careers will suite you. You never know, it could be a possibility.

But in order to use these sources of careers advice you’ll need to be prepared.

For example:
What are your objectives? – What do you want to know?
Are you prepared to hear the negative as well as the positive? If you’re already keen on a particular job, it can be human nature to ignore the downside to your chosen career. Also how will you verify what you have been told? Entry to many careers and professions change over time. The route one person took many years ago may have changed by the time you try and enter into that field today.

Tips for approaching others for careers help.
Be positive – people like to talk about what they do, so be enthusiastic about their job/career

  • Be clear about the information that you require e.g. what qualifications are needed, how long is the training, what are the future possibilities etc
  • Do some research beforehand, show that you know something about what you are asking about.
  • Share your plans, what do you intend to do in the longer term

But be careful – steer clear of asking what they earn…. This is never a good idea as it’s a bit personal!


There are a huge number of extremely useful publications offering careers advice from books. WH Smith, Amazon etc are heaving with books relating to various professions, careers, jobs and occupations e.g. How to be a Doctor or get into Law etc. There are also plenty of publications available that look specifically at helping people actually choose a career in the first place i.e. looking at personality traits (see personality tests mentioned later).

Many professional bodies have published their own careers related materials which they offer through their own on line shops. Some even provide online careers advice e.g. the Law Society provides careers support for getting into Law e.g. qualifications and training required.

3.Career adviser/consultants and 

Unfortunately the excellent services provided by many of these practitioners is not free. You’ll need to pay. But if you get the right one, their help and support will be invaluable and could save you an enormous amount of time and cost in the long run.

They offer a range of services including careers advice, retirement planning, redundancy support, advice for careers changers and CV planning. Consultants are usually (or at least should be) trained with a relevant guidance qualification. Some will even have Chartered Occupational Psychology status.

However such sessions can be quite expensive, especially in London and the South East. Five hundred pounds for a typical session is not unusual, although this may include a follow up session and be significantly cheaper elsewhere in the country.

For a full list of careers advisers near you, check out our Careers Advice Directory here.

4.Apptitude Test

Psychometric Test 
Psychometric tests are often provided by the private careers advisers/consultants mentioned above as part of their paid for services.
But first, what are psychological tests?

Psychometric tests are a series of exercises that test areas such as e.g. numeracy and verbal reasoning. The results of such tests are often used by employers to help in the selection process of new staff. But they are also used to help individuals determine a career that matches their strengths, abilities and area of interest.

A more formal description of these test is as follows: “Psychological assessment can be said to be the assessment by the use of psychology through various exercises and similar, to determine the cognitive ability of an individual, in this situation in relation to capacity and aptitude to perform certain tasks and therefore do certain jobs and occupations.” These are far more in depth than the more straight forward personality tests mentioned below. They will usually be accompanied by a guidance session in order to help the client make sense of the results and match their strengths and abilities to the best types of career for them.

Personality tests 
What kind of person are you? Are you the life and sole of the party? Or are you happy for others to take the lime light? Are you someone who is good at detail, or are you more of a grand ideas type of person? The answer to questions such as these may have an impact on the type of job that will be suitable for you.

Based on the science of psychology (some would say very loosely) these tests are framed around a series of questions about your likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses.

Many tests are available on-line or in careers related publications. However they need to be treated with caution. Accuracy is difficult when conducting these test on your own. It’s often difficult to be impartial from one’s self and not fall into the trap of answering questions in the way we want the outcome to be.

Furthermore these types of tests should not be confused with psychometrics mentioned above. Psychometrics are far more involved and require trained professionals to implement and interpret the results of the test. But personality testing can be a useful way to start the journey to finding the right career for you.

5.Government funded Advice and Guidance (free)

Career advice and guidance for young people.
Despite recent cuts (e.g. demise of Connexions) there are still some places where you can get free careers advice. Some young people may still get support via their school in some cases, but it does vary from place to place. The provision of careers advice and guidance in schools is now the responsibility of schools themselves.

Unfortunately uneven provision of service across England is the result with some young people getting a better service than others. Young people and certain other groups e.g. the adult unemployed may have access to local advice and guidance centres. These initiatives tend to be funded on a regional and local level e.g. Job centres, local charities etc, their purpose being to facilitate certain disadvantage back into in to education or training. You will need to check locally to see what is still available in your area.

Government funded websites
Across the UK there are also a number of nation based careers based sites that provide a mixture of online careers information, advice and guidance. Some offer a telephone service, video profiles of certain careers, case studies and many other services to help individuals make sense of the huge variety of careers opportunities out there.

These are:

  • National Careers Service (England)
  • Careers NI Direct (Northern Ireland)
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • Careers Wales

See their contact details here.

As you can see there are many different forms or sources of careers advice and guidance. Which you choose will depend on what situation you’re in, young person, adult, in work or out of it. Some may have to pay for advice, where others may get it for free. Either way we hope the above is a good place to start.