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7 steps to your dream career

Published on 02/03/2020 by DTHACK

Mid-life career crisis? It’s never too late to get the career you’ve always wanted. Blackpool and The Fylde College careers advisor Michelle Nolan takes you through the key steps to landing your dream career. 

Discover your passion

First off, you need to have an idea of what it is you want to do.

If you’re lucky you might already know your calling but most people need a gentle steer in the right direction. When someone comes to us for advice, we encourage them to look to their skills, strengths and what motivates them.

Personality tests and quizzes can help. Try:

Think about things you’ve done before that you really enjoyed and about the type of work you enjoy too.

Do you like working with your hands, for example, or is an office environment more your thing? 

Identify your dream job 

The next step is to match your strengths and aptitudes to suitable jobs.

The job profiles at Prospects.ac.uk are brilliant. Register to ‘take the quiz’ and access your own unique set of job matches.

You can then click on these to find out more about responsibilities, salaries, qualifications and skills needed, current vacancies and related careers you might want to consider.

We also use Careersmart.org.uk, which shows labour market information by region so you can see what demand there is where for your chosen career.

If it’s the sort of job you might have to travel for and you’re not willing to then you may need to think again. And pay attention to any ‘special requirements’ such as a driving licence, DBS check or colour vision test. 

Plan the journey

Once you have an idea of what job you want you can then start to track a route to getting there.

If it’s a new career entirely chances are you’re going to need some form of training. How much and at what level will depend on the experience and qualifications you have already but your local college can advise you.

You might only need to do a 1-year course; others will need to train for longer, possibly having to do a degree.

Bear in mind though, if you have a degree already you won’t be able to access funding for a second degree, unless it’s in a skills shortage area such as nursing (check your eligibility at gov.uk/student-finance).

Be prepared to brush up on your English and maths as well.

Don’t forget about apprenticeships!

Many people think Apprenticeships are just for young people, but they’re really not.

In fact, being a bit older with some experience under your belt can be an advantage when it comes to securing a place.

I know someone in their forties who’s completed an Apprenticeship with the NHS and has just been offered a permanent job.

And with a higher or degree apprenticeship, you’re gaining a degree-level qualification that not only helps with career advancement but isn’t going to cost you a penny (given your employer pays the fees).

If you’re interested, Gov.uk is a good place to start. 

Next steps

Don’t put off the job hunt until you’ve finished your course.

It’s never too early to start looking at job vacancies and taking steps to make sure you’re career-ready.

Think about the skills you need to develop and make the most of things like work experience and volunteering (independently or as part of your course) to get your CV up-to-date.

And use your college’s/university’s careers service!

We support students in so many ways, from plotting their progression route and writing personal statements for UCAS (applying to university) to job searching and developing interview techniques. 

Wanting to go it alone?

If you’ve got an idea for a new business, there are some great local resources to help you get it off the ground.

Blackpool Council’s Get Started is worth a visit and we also recommend Blackpool Unlimited.

They can help you through the whole process, from coming up with ideas to doing a business plan and accessing finance.

You also need to think about any additional skills/qualifications you’re going to need, such as food hygiene if you’re setting up a catering business or professional accreditation (and even a Masters) if, for example, you’re wanting to set up your own psychology practice.

Again, Prospects or the National Careers Service can point you in the right direction. 

Make it happen 

Indeed.co.uk is an excellent jobs site but do your research as well – if there are companies you’d like to work for keep an eye on their website for upcoming vacancies.

Be prepared to broaden your search if necessary. If you’re into engineering for example, don’t just set your sights on mechanical when all the jobs are in energy.

Be persistent. You might need to re-visit your CV or interview technique or, if a lack of experience is holding you back, consider volunteering to get you a foot on the ladder – check out do-it.org for suitable vacancies.

And once you land that all important interview, find out if they’re committed to your ongoing development so you can progress through the ranks. There’s always progression – development never stops.

What next?

If you’re keen to get your dream career underway visit our Meet the Experts event on Wednesday 29 April from 4.30-7pm at Bispham Campus and University Centre.

You'll be able to access careers advice, discover a wide range of courses, chat to expert tutors and find out about funding.