How to: Decide what job to look for

Not sure where to go in your career?

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re considering a career change, the more you know about the kind of job you want to do, the more straightforward your job search will be

The best way to start deciding on a job or career is to ask yourself some key questions:


Are you looking for a job or a career?

  • Are you looking for a stop-gap job to pay off bills or do you have a detailed career plan?
  • Do you like your job, but just need a different environment?
  • Have you done all you can in your current job and feel you need a new challenge?
  • Are you seeking promotion and opportunities for career advancement?

How to: Make a career plan

Career crossroads: What to do next


What do you enjoy doing?

Work’s much more enjoyable when you’re doing something you’re good at, so take some time to think about your key skills and interests.

What kind of things are you good at? Even if it doesn’t seem like something you’re currently qualified for, knowing where your attributes lie will help you identify a clear career path – whether you need to take a course to get there, or simply make the most of your transferable skills.

What job would suit me?


What type of work?

It’s important to decide what type of work you’re looking for to make sure your search is as accurate as possible. Consider the following types of work.

  • Permanent
    If you’re looking for opportunities to advance your career, a permanent position will be more suited to you. You’ll benefit from company perks and have more job security in the long run.

    How to find a new job

  • Temping
    You might want temporary work if you’re returning to work or if you’re trying to get a wide range of experiences.

    CV template for temp work

  • Contracting
    Similar to temping, contracting offers many benefits, including increased flexibility and the opportunity to develop new skills.

    Benefits of contracting

  • Internships
    Internships allow you to gain practical experience in a profession or organisation. This work is usually unpaid and lasts for 8-12 weeks.

    Internships: What you need to know

  • Apprenticeships
    If you’re looking to learn a craft or a trade, gain hands-on experience when you apply for an apprenticeship with a skilled worker.

    Apprenticeships: How to get started 

  • Graduate Schemes
    Some companies choose to take a bulk in-take of graduates following graduation. These schemes usually offer a permanent paid job that often includes a structured training program for the first 18 months to three years.

    Graduate schemes: What you need to know

  • Volunteering
    As well as the feel good factor you receive from giving your time to a worthy cause, the benefits of volunteering include learning new skills and gaining useful experience which will help you find your next job and launch your career.

How to: Find volunteer work


Where do you want to work?

Most of us want to find a job that suits our lifestyle and gives us the hours we want.

Make sure you consider your commute before you apply for a job. Think about transport links, how long you’re prepared to travel to get to work and what kinds of services you’ll want nearby when you get there. Also, consider whether you’d be willing to relocate.

If you’re planning to move home for work, you should try to let prospective employers know. Make it clear in your CV and cover letter that you would like to move or work in a particular location.

Browse UK jobs by location


Who do you want to work for?

Deciding what type of organisation you want to work for can also help narrow your job search. Think about what it is that you want from an employer, as well as what you don’t want.

Consider which of these factors might be important to you:

  • Working for a large company where there may be scope to move roles
  • Working for a small company where you may gain experience more quickly
  • Working for a well-known company
  • Having training opportunities
  • The right company culture

Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for, you can start to identify suitable organisations.

See who’s recruiting now


How to approach employers?

You can approach a company you’d like to work for by phone, email or by sending them your CV with a cover letter.

Whichever approach you choose to take, try to make direct contact with whoever is responsible for hiring, whether for a specific position that interests you or for the organisation as a whole.

Employers are impressed by jobseekers who demonstrate a genuine interest in their organisation, so make sure you carry out some background research, know their key products and services and be familiar with any news relating to the company or the industry in which it operates.

Free cover letter template

Free CV template


How much do you want to earn?

When you’re planning your next career move, you should try and work out what salary you should be looking for.

Be prepared to look for jobs paying slightly below and slightly above the rate you’d be happy to earn, but be realistic without selling yourself short. If you’re offered a job, you’ll usually have the opportunity to negotiate your salary to some extent.

Should I ask about salary at my interview?

Check average salaries now


Start your search

Once you’ve made a checklist of all the things you want from a role, it’s time to start searching.

To make sure your results match up with your criteria (and to find out what to avoid), take a look at our guides on how to search for jobs online, and our list of job search dos and don’ts now.



Ready to start searching? View all available jobs now.


One thought on “How to: Decide what job to look for

  1. gds - September 5, 2019 at 15:13

    “Do you like you job”
    Excellent grammar