Career Advice

Our career successes and failures will feature in everyone’s career journey. Our personal lives and our careers are connected and impact on each other. Building a career means being prepared for change. No one knows what opportunities will be created or taken away as technology and society develops. Change comes from within as well as the world around, as your career develops you will grow and what interests you now may not interest you in 10 years. So much attention is focused on making the correct decision after leaving cert, but a career means being prepared for the journey, not just the first step.

The following video asks 50 people a question about their journey and brings to mind many of the issues that impact on our career decisions.



Work that is paid for in return for performing specific tasks: e.g. an electrical engineer with ESB 


This refers to a set of jobs that have similar characteristics or require similar skill sets and knowledge – e.g: educator, engineer, scientist


The paid and unpaid variety of occupations, skills, experiences and knowledge that one experiences and amasses across their working life.

High Five Principles

The High Five Principles can guide your decision making as you plan your career.

  1. We change constantly and so does the world around us, including the world of work. Most people spend time in different occupations, organisations and sectors over the course of their career. Change brings opportunities so adaptability is an important career skill.
  2. Learning does not end with the Leaving Cert or completion of third-level studies or training. Work and life will offer many opportunities to develop new skills and experiences.
  3. Identifying your goals and purpose gives direction to your journey in life. But do not be so focused on the plan that you miss opportunities that present themselves along the way. Become a good traveller on the journey of life.
  4. Friends, relatives, teachers and partners are allies, they can be central to the next steps on your life journey. Anyone who knows and cares about you can be a great ally for you, and you for them.
  5. Knowing who you really are and what you want makes you strong and motivates you through life's challenges. Believe in yourself and never be afraid to dream.

The 'High Five' principles were conceived by Canadian career development leaders and are featured in The Real Game Series and all career resources from the National Life/Work Centre and other prominent Canadian career development organisations.


Career Development

What influences the way our career develops?

It can be a challenge to strike a balance between find what you truly love and building a career that offers financial and personal security. Good career decision-making involves learning how to strike a balance.  People sometimes choose careers and courses for practical reasons. This is why CAO points for certain courses change alongside trends in the economy. But the jobs in which you succeed in are often the ones where you can find some enjoyment in the work.

What is Career Development?

Career development is the process of managing life, learning and work throughout our lives.

What influences the way our career develops?

One way of understanding what makes us pick certain careers is to look at some of the influential factors at play set out in the chart below. Which of these factors have played an influential role in your Career path to date?





Gender & Age


Educational institutions

Time Perspective

Beliefs & Values



Luck & Chance

Aptitudes & Skills

Wider Community

Educational Policy

Life Experience


Other significant social networks


Life Changing Events

 Physical Attributes


Labour Market Trends


Careers & Occupational Knowledge and Experience


Historical Factors




Globalisation Trends



As you can see when looking at career choice, a particular aptitude for a subject or skill is only one part of the process.  It’s not just about matching a person to an occupation or career.

Your child has the opportunity to pick a course he/she really likes, in a college that suits them, with global career opportunities if they so wish. To make good choices he/she will need to:

  • Maintain good self-esteem.
  • Exercise good judgement.
  • Do thorough research – e.g. courses, qualification frameworks, modes of assessment, progression links, graduate recruitment policies, market trends. 
  • Learn to know and understand him/herself.


Choosing a Career

 It’s never easy to make a decision when you don’t have enough information. Even harder when the consequences will affect your entire life. This is particularly true when it comes to career decisions. The best decisions are usually made when you are well informed of the options available and the decision just feels right.

The Importance of Knowing Yourself

If you already know yourself very well and are confident about making personally satisfying career choices then you may like to skip our section on knowing yourself. For those who are less certain or would like to get a different perspective on what our strengths and weaknesses may be, or what motivates us, or what our natural skills may be, then click here.

Career Research

Once you have a good sense of your interests, personality, values and skills, you will find it easier to recognise career and job opportunities that would be fulfilling for you. Career research is a process of exploring the world of work with the objective of finding an area you would like to invest your future time and energy into in a way that you would find satisfying. Your research should reveal some direction and goals to aspire to. Click here to go to our section on Career Research.

Exploring Education Options

We start our career journey with skills and knowledge we learn during our school years. In the modern world, however, we may need to extend our learning well beyond our school education. Most occupations require very precise and detailed training, and to be able to work in most career areas you will need specialist training. There are many courses available to bring you to the next step in your journey, the difficulty is often choosing one that serves you well for the future. Click here to explore education options.

Growing your Career

During your career you will develop new skills and valuable experience. Just because you are ‘settled’ into whatever role you choose doesn’t mean you will remain satisfied indefinitely. There are many ways to maximise your development and growth so as to improve your satisfaction levels for the future. For more information on working and continuous personal development click here.

Changing your Career

People often find themselves considering a change of career path. You are almost certainly better off planning a career change while still employed - you at least have the financial stability that will give you time to develop your plan. To find out more about changing your job or changing career direction click here

Looking for Work

At various times during your career journey you will probably need to look for employment. This can be a stressful time and your patience may well be challenged. Understanding the process and knowing where to look can make life that bit easier. Click here for information about Looking for Work.

Work / Life Balance

There may be times when the amount of time and energy used in your work as compared to the rest of your life is causing more stress than you are happy about. Sometimes it helps to get a different perspective on life and re-arrange your life in accordance to what is important to you. Click here for further information on common Work /Life balance issues.

Professional Advice

Because of the important impact career decisions have on the course of our life, many people will avail of the services of professionals qualified in providing career counselling. For those of you who would like the services of professional careers guidance practitioners, you can view a directory of professionals from the Institute of Guidance Counsellors website here.

School and College students can get professional advice from their Guidance Counsellors and Careers Advisors who are freely available in schools and on campuses throughout Ireland. Note that it is up to the individual student to make an appointment to discuss their options.

Online Resources

Shine - Supporting people affected by Mental ill Health 
  Irish national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of those affected by mental ill health.
NHS (UK) - Bipolar Disorder 
  Health information portal of the NHS Service. Comprehensive information on Bipolar Disorder.
Irish Association of Supported Employment 
  National organisation whose aim is to promote equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Including Teenagers with Down Syndrome in Secondary School 
  Informative publication from Down Syndrome Ireland with a focus on the transition to secondary school and recommended inclusion strategies
Down Syndrome Ireland 
  Support organisation for people with Down syndrome and their families.
Special Education Support Service - Down Syndrome 
  Brief description of Down Syndrome from the Department of Education's Special Education Support Service.
Special Education Support Service - Tourette Syndrome 
  Brief description of Tourette Syndrome from the Department of Education's Special Education Support Service.
The National Tourette Syndrome Association (USA) 
  Resource website for people and their families coping with the problems that occur with TS
The National Tourette Syndrome Association (USA) 
  Information website and resources for people with TS and their families.
Tourettes Action (UK) 
  Comprehensive information website for people with TS and their families.
  Next Last

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