Top tips on narrowing down the career options for your children

Psychometric testing can be a great way of narrowing down the options when it comes to careers

Psychometric testing can be a great way of narrowing down the options when it comes to careers - Credit: Inspiring Futures

If career options are still leaving your child in a spin, never fear. Here, Virginia Isaac, chief executive of Inspiring Futures, a not-for-profit organisation that provides impartial careers advice, brings us some helpful tips on narrowing down the options

Last year saw a constant stream of negative news in the media around the quality and availability of careers guidance in UK schools. Indeed, Ofsted itself concluded that three-quarters of schools were not delivering adequate advice, nor were they engaging with external experts. Other headlines warned that the quality of careers guidance in schools was “nothing less than appalling”; “heading towards a cliff edge”; and even “on life support”.

The issue, however, isn’t confined to schools, as Ernst & Young recently reported. According to their research released in January 2014, almost half of parents are unaware of the range of options open to young people turning 18, and more than half don’t fully understand the long-term implications for their children’s careers.

This situation perhaps isn’t surprising given that 40% of jobs weren’t even thought of 10 years ago, but the good news is that in spite of negative headlines, there is help and support available to make the seemingly difficult way ahead easier for young people to navigate.


Personalised profiles

The Inspiring Futures Foundation is a Surrey-based not-for-profit organisation that has been working with young people for over 70 years, providing impartial and expert career guidance. Its Futurewise programme offers contemporary online psychometric assessments, a personalised profile report, a one-to-one interview and access to a guidance helpline.

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Futurewise was recently made available for parents to purchase directly, either as a whole package that is designed for young people aged from 15 to 23, or with just the psychometric profile and guidance session, or even just the guidance session in isolation.

Here, we provide a few pointers on what to consider when thinking about career guidance and how to tackle decisions around future studies and planning for a career...

1 Get to know yourself: The issues surrounding careers guidance are compounded by the fact that the world today is increasingly competitive and even top academic qualifications aren’t always enough to succeed. Evidence suggests that academic qualifications count for just 50% of a young person’s ability to do a job well, with the remaining 50% made up of character, focus, persistence and ability to cope with failure, to make connections and to think critically.

This is why psychometric profiling is so important. An excellent way to help you identify and understand your strengths and weaknesses, it can really help when it comes to choosing further studies and career paths. Many leading independent schools have offered this support for years and, through the Futurewise programme, it is now available direct to parents who feel there is perhaps a lack of sufficient provision made at school.

2 Keep an open mind: Don’t settle on one career at an early age and then refuse to be swayed from it, if it seems you aren’t going to get the grades or simply aren’t suited for it. Something worth remembering is that there are often alternative paths to follow that will take you to your end goal. Non-university routes to the professions will allow you to earn while you learn so an apprenticeship might be something worth considering. Sponsored degrees, meanwhile, where the employer pays your tuition fees, might also be an option.

3 Research, research, research: Don’t assume you know what a career or course entails without reading about it and finding out more from those in the industry. Don’t always rely on well-intentioned parents and friends whose information may be out of date! It’s always a good idea to speak with someone already in that sector, to gain a clearer understanding of what the options open to you might be, and how possible changes in the economy could impact on that career path by the time you come to look for a job. Career insight events provide an opportunity to meet with and hear first-hand from professionals currently in those sectors.

4 Volunteer: Helping out with any form of community, environmental or charitable cause equips you with lots of useful new skills and enhances your CV – something that could pique the interest of a potential employer or course tutor.

5 Get some experience: Arranging work experience placements will not only provide invaluable career insight, but also valuable additions to your CV. Don’t forget to also include other achievements where the skills are transferable to a workplace scenario: babysitting shows responsibility; success in music exams shows dedication; and volunteering can demonstrate a commitment to a role regardless of financial reward.


If your child’s future studies and career options are still leaving them feeling confused then support is available via impartial advisors such as those at the Inspiring Futures Foundation. To find out more, visit their website:

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