Career planning resources for schools and colleges
This page contains two key careers resources for schools and colleges:
- Career help toolkit - our list of helpful websites and suggestions for different career needs
- Mini-course in career decision-making - six workbooks to gain the skills, confidence and motivation to make great choices. For years 11-13 and post-16 students at college.
These resources are provided for free to support learners, teachers and career leaders. We hope you find them useful.
Career help toolkit
This toolkit is our list of suggested websites, resources and ideas to help with career planning and making choices. These have been organised into sections based on what stage of the process they help with.
Everything that's listed is free for anyone to access and the content has been put together by a professional careers consultant.
We hope you find it helpful!
I want to...
Complete these sentences as many times as possible: ‘I am good at…’ and ‘I enjoy…’ Make a list for each. You might want to divide a piece of paper into two columns with each list of answers in a column.The 'what you’re good at' answers will help you to notice some of your skills. You’ve usually got more skills than you might at first be aware of, so keep coming up with more sentences if you can. Then do the 'I enjoy' list. Again, keep coming up with answers here too.
See if you can spot things that are in both lists. These things that you’re good at and also enjoy are likely to be some of your strengths. Options for the future that use your strengths can be a good idea. You're likely to be be happier (because you enjoy using that skill) and you're likely to succeed too (because you're good at it).
Careerpilot skills maps
Careerpilot pre-16 and post-16 skills map exercises take about 10 minutes. You select sentences that apply to you and the tool shows you the skills you've got so far. (You have to register and log in but it's free.)
Rate your skills
Rate your skills from Barclays Life Skills takes about 5 minutes. You rate each of 10 core skills to create your own list to help you feel clearer about your skillset. (You have to register and log in but it's free.)
Suitcase of skills
Suitcase of skills was produced for National Careers Week in 2019. It takes about 15 minutes - use the list of skills words to 'pack' your skills suitcase. Add in skills words for skills that you already have or pack them nearby if they're skills you want to develop. You don't have to use all the skill words. This exercise can help you feel clearer about what skills you have and what skills you want to gain.
Questionnaire based on skills
Choose a career questionnaire from ‘Find career ideas using quizzes’ that says it's based on skills. Going through the questions and looking at your answers can help you learn more about which skills you want to use or build in what you do next.
Complete these sentences as many times as possible: ‘I am passionate about…’ and 'I think something is worthwhile if...' Make a list of these sentences (as many as you can). Read them back and see if you can summarise what's important to you in what you do, These are your values. If what you do next links with your values you're likely to feel more motivated and satisfied.
Career values grid
The career values grid takes about 10 minutes and involves choosing what makes something feel meaningful to you from a list, and then narrowing down your choices in stages. It can help you work out what's really important to you.
Questionnaire based on values
Choose a career questionnaire from ‘Find career ideas using quizzes’ that is based on values. Going through the questions and looking at your answers can help you learn more about what's important to you.
Complete these sentences as many times as possible: ‘I could spend hours …’ and 'When I choose what to read/watch I choose things about…’ Make a list of your sentences. See if you can spot themes to help clarify your interests. If what you do next links with some of your interests, you're likely to be more motivated.
Questionnaire based on interests
Try a career questionnaire from ‘Find career ideas using quizzes’ that is based on interests. Answering questions and reviewing your answers can help you clarify more about what kind of topics you're interested in.
Buzz quiz on the Careers Wales site takes about 5 minutes. It's personality based and suitable for all (you don't have to be Welsh!) and gives useful ideas of careers that might suit you.
National Careers Service questionnaire
Discover your Skills and Careers from the National Careers Service takes 5-10 minutes. It is skills based. It shows results in categories for each industry so you can see which areas have more matches.
Wheel of strengths
Wheel of Strengths is a quick questionnaire based on skills, interests and personality. It gives you groups of 'matching' job ideas. (You have to register for a free account).
Careerpilot's job sector quiz is skills and interest based. It's designed for users aged 11-19. It's quick: after five questions you get a % for each industries to show how well they match your answers. It has useful links for further information about the different ideas. (You have to register for a free account).
Prospects Planner focuses on post-university jobs. It's helpful if you're planning on going to uni and researching which jobs you could do afterwards. It takes about 10 minutes to do (a beta version is even quicker). It is skills, personality and values based. (You have to register for a free account).
Careers cloud quiz
The Careers Cloud Quiz from careers website SACU is interest and personality based. It takes 5 minutes to do. Your answers create mind maps of major options. You can click each option to see more niche options within the category. The mind maps include both jobs and courses. It's ideal if you prefer exploring interactive and visual information! (You have to register for a free account).
NHS career questionnaires
There are two NHS career questionnaires. Step into the NHS, (for 14-19 year olds), or the NHS ‘Let’s find your health career’ quiz (for everybody). Both questionnaires are interest, values and skills based. Both highlight which of the 350 different careers in the NHS might suit you well.
Careerpilot: Start with a subject
Start with a subject is a detailed of careers and courses linked to school subjects. Job information includes salaries, working hours and future employment predictions.
BBC Bitesize Careers: Where could your favourite subject take you?
Where could your favourite subject take you? filters the BBC Bitesize Careers collection of information, based on your choice of subject.
Prospects: What can I do with...
‘What can I do with…’ pages list careers that you could do after studying various degree subjects. Each career idea links through to a detailed profile full of information.
Official organisations for different subjects often have career pages with career ideas.
National Career Services
National Careers Service lets you enter a job title or explore by job area. You'll find reliable information on what the job involves, how to get into it, salary and working hours. Not in England? Use the Northern Ireland Careers Service, Careers Wales or Skills Development Scotland.
Prospects has detailed job profiles for careers that involve going to university. Either browse by sector or use the A-Z guide.
Use National Careers Service or Prospects to find industry organisations for different careers. Often these organisations will provide more detailed information on their own websites.
- Information on training to be a doctor would link to the Medical Schools Council entry requirements.
- A page about becoming a lawyer would link to LawCareers.net and likely to their Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law
- A resource about becoming a teacher would link to the government’s Get Into Teaching website.
Websites of employers (particularly big companies) usually have a careers page. You can use this to find more information about how they hire and what opportunities they offer. For example, the 'big four' professional services firms all have careers pages: Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC.
iCould videos are honest and short videos from over 1000 people doing real jobs. Use 'explore' (in the menu) to find videos relating to job areas of interest, or situations that are relevant to you.
Ask someone what their job is like
Contact someone to ask about what it's like to do their job and get their advice if you're considering it. You don't need to know them before you contact them. Do your research online first to find someone whose advice could be helpful. Then write them a short email. Explain why you're interested in that career and why you choose them to ask for advice. People are usually flattered that someone admires what they do! Worst case scenario? They're too busy and you don't get a reply. Best case scenario? You have a valuable conversation and get offered other opportunities. Barclays Life Skills' tips on 8 things to ask when you want advice can help you get the most out of the conversation.
Virtual work experience
Can't do work experience in person? Ask an organisation if it's possible to help from where you are. Highlight your relevant skills, particularly those that relate to working online. Look for online courses to help brush up on any web-based skills that you might need. (Free online courses offered by universities are on Coursera, FutureLearn and EdX).
You might want to try Barclays Life Skills' Virtual Work Experience. It's interactive video recreating the experience of working at a 'digital transformation agency'.
Watch work experience
BBC iPlayer has some great work experience-like programmes available. Try:
Careerpilot: Qualifications map
Careerpilot's Qualifications Map shows qualification options at all levels. You can click each category of qualification to find out what it is and how it works. It's great for getting to grips with how GCSEs, NVQs, BTECs, A Levels, T Levels, HNC, HNDs and degrees relate to each other.
Discover Uni helps you find out about university, funding and compare courses. It's an official, impartial website from the UK government. Course information includes salary statistics for graduates of different courses.
Target Careers: Degree Explorer
Target Careers' Degree Explorer questionnaire takes 20 minutes. It has two stages of questions and then suggests degree subjects to match your interests. Great if you're looking for ideas of courses that aren't subjects taught at school or college.
BBC Bitesize Careers
See BBC Bitesize on college and post-16 qualifications and BBC Bitesize on university. Both have useful videos and well-researched articles.
To go or not to go
HEPP's To go or not to go (to uni) is an online booklet with clear and balanced advice on making the decision. It aims to support informed decision making, supported by universities in Sheffield.
Official apprenticeship website explaining how they work and what's available to apply for.
Rate My Apprenticeship
Rate My Apprenticeship has evolved into a detailed website with a list of opportunities available, and guides to options, industries and employers.
BBC Bitesize Careers: Apprenticeships
BBC Bitesize pages on apprenticeships contain useful videos and articles.
School leaver job/apprenticeship websites
Take our mini course
Our mini course in career decision making gives you skills, insight and motivation to make great choices. See the section further down this page - About the mini-course in career decision-making.
But what if you need to make a choice and don't have time to take a whole course?
Here are quick activities to try (starting with the simplest and getting more complex):
Decide what you need to decide
Sometimes decisions are hard because we link them with lots of other decisions. Clarify and simplify: what's the decision you're trying to make right now? Write it down, with the simplest list of options that you can.
Pros and cons
Make a simple pros and cons list of your options. Which is longer - the pros or the cons? Which did you want to be longer? What do you think this tells you about what you want to do?
Score your options
Make a list of options. Give each option a score out of 10 for how much you'd enjoy it, and another score out of 10 for how do-able you think it is. Add them together to give a total out of 20. What option has the highest combined score?
Choosing a degree
If you're choosing a degree, check out Brightside's advice on How do I choose the right degree?
Choosing when you don't have all the information
Sometimes you have to make a decision before you have all the information. So what can you do? If it’s possible to find out the missing information, great. But if you can’t?
Make a list of your decision-making criteria. This is going to be personal to you. How much of your list makes something a 'good enough' option (70%? 80%?). Are there any deal-breakers (criteria in your list that are non-optional)? How does the opportunity that’s available right now stack up? What % of your criteria list does it give you? As a result, is it 'good enough' to say yes to with confidence? Decide based on what it's possible to know; that’s all anyone can do!
Even more about decision-making
For more ideas see the Oxford University Careers Service pages on How to make a career decision. Their summary includes the Forcefield Analysis, D.E.C.I.D.E.S model and Visualisation techniques. It's designed for Oxford students but open access for everyone.
Learn what the next steps are
Do your research: what do you need to do now? Get clear about the process. Use the websites in 'Find out factual information about my career ideas' for what to do generally. Read information published by the employer for specific jobs and apprenticeships. Read information published by the course provider for further study. Get clear about what's involved, what you might need help with and what the deadlines are.
Set your goal and build your action plan
Our goal setting and action plan workbook can help you clarify what you want to achieve and the steps to take. It also has a handy action plan template.
Target Careers' CV writing tips
Target Career's school leaver CV writing tips are helpful, and they also have an example CV.
Personal statement help
If you're applying to university, read UCAS advice on writing your personal statement. The advice includes video guidance from a university admissions tutor.
Starting your own business?
Barclays Life Skills' Enterprise Idea Planner or Start Up Planner could provide helpful. Also, check out The Prince's Trust support for young people hoping to start a business.
What stage am I at?
Download the third workbook from our mini-course on career decision-making. It outlines a flow chart-style process to demystify career planning. See the different steps involved, and use the quiz to help you figure out what stage you're at and what to focus on now.
About the mini-course in career decision-making
For pupils in year 11-13 and post-16 students at college
What is the mini-course?
The course gives you the skills, motivation and confidence to make great choices about your future. It's made up of six workbooks. Each one takes about 30 - 45 minutes to do, using a step by step process with lots of quizzes and interactive exercises.
Do I have to do all of it?
To get the full benefit, we recommend doing the workbooks in order. If you do, give yourself some time to think and reflect between each workbook. Alternatively, read the description for each workbook and do the one that sounds the most useful right now.
For teachers and career leaders
We hope that this course provides useful content that you could use or adapt to support your careers programme in your school or college. For an overview of the content, aims and outcomes together with ideas for how you could use and enhance the course in your work, download the Guide for Teachers and Career Leaders. You might also like to download a certificate of completion (editable Word file) to reward learners who complete the course.
Mini-course in career decision-making
Explore the six workbooks that make up the mini-course using the arrows in the visual guide below.
The workbooks are available in PDF or Word formats - both have editable sections where you can write as you're doing the exercises, so there's no need to print them off. Use whichever version works best for you - the content is identical.
We start by thinking about who you might become. This process can help your motivation, and teach you about what matters to you. We look at the ‘you’ that you hope to become, the ‘you’ that you expect to become and the ‘you’ that you don't want to be.
Decision making myths
Most people believe in some of the myths about career decision-making. These myths can have a big impact on how we feel and whether we make decisions that we're pleased with in the future. Explore the myths getting in the way of your decision-making in our second workbook.
What stage are you at?
There's a process to making decisions for your career and future. Understanding the stages and which one you're at makes decision-making feel more do-able. Learn where you are and which sections of the career help toolkit are most useful to you now in our third workbook.
Decision making styles
We all form a personal set of decision-making habits. These habits may or may not be helpful when it comes to career decision-making. Analyse your habits and decide what you want to change in our fourth workbook.
Obstacles to decision making
Sometimes we just feel 'stuck' when trying to make a decision for our future. Knowing what any obstacles are can make it easier to learn about them and find a way to overcome them. Identify any obstacles and get suggestions to overcome them in our fifth workbook.
Goal setting and action planning
Deciding on what you want to achieve (goal setting) is helpful. And deciding to do stuff about it (action planning) is vital! Create goals that are SMART and 'well-formed', and great action plans in our final workbook.