How to make the right career move


The automotive industry is incredibly varied, with a huge range of roles to choose from. Follow these tips to plot your next move with confidence

Like any major life decision, deciding what you want to do with your career can feel daunting. Whether you’re just entering the job market, considering a career change or simply trying to choose between two different job opportunities, there’s always a niggling worry that you’ll make the wrong decision or that there might be a better opportunity out there for you.

Making career decisions is never an easy task, but allowing those doubts to stay with you could ultimately make your career grind to a standstill. Answer these five simple questions to get clarity on your options and decide with confidence.

1. What do I want to do?

Finding work that you’re passionate about is crucial to your happiness and success, so while answering the question above may seem like a task in itself, it’s absolutely essential that you take the time to do it.

This is all about building your self-awareness, so work on figuring out your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, values and aspirations. Personality tests can help, but also look at your story to date: when were you most energised and what were you doing then? Don’t expect a definite answer to surface right away; instead, look for patterns and focus on these.

2. What are my options?

Be clear on the options that are out there for you. Read up on the jobs you’re interested in and check out their full descriptions. What are the key requirements and day-to-day responsibilities? Go to (virtual) jobs fairs, reach out to careers services, connect with people in your preferred role on LinkedIn, or join role-specific groups. Notice where your attention goes, but be realistic: do you have the skills and experience required? If not, can you do anything about that?

3. What do I need?

Being realistic also means thinking about what your basic needs are. Ask yourself some practical questions. For example, how far are you willing to travel every day, what are you looking for in terms of salary, annual leave and working hours, and are you happy to relocate?

4. Where’s the overlap?

The next step is to compare your list of options against your needs. Most likely this will substantially reduce your list to just a few options.

Dig a little deeper into these remaining few and try to get a feel for what’s involved in these jobs. Can you see yourself doing them? To truly get the inside scoop, you could try job shadowing, where you follow around a professional as they go about their day at work. Volunteering can also be a great way to test the waters in certain roles.

5. Ready to take a chance?

You may come out of this process of elimination with several options left to choose from, or perhaps just one that you’re not quite convinced of. At this point, it often comes down to a gut feeling. Ask yourself: does this decision feel right, does it excite me, can I see myself doing this? If your answer is “yes” to any of those questions, take a leap of faith and start researching specific employers to apply to.

Doubt is often a symptom of fear, so try to keep things in perspective. Many people think that one decision can set them on a course that they can’t change, but the opposite is true – you can always change your mind. If you do make the “wrong” decision, see it as an opportunity to learn. Knowing what you don’t want to do is always useful in helping you make the “right” decision.

Your career is a journey, and you’re likely to face more than one crossroad along the way. Think carefully about the direction you’re choosing, do your research and remember: when in doubt, follow your gut.

To find out more about the different career options the automotive industry has to offer, head to the IMI’s AutoCity careers portal

Joanna Hollingdale MIMI is the IMI’s Careers and Student Membership Manager

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?