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.

Young black man in t shirt focussed on a laptop in an empty classroom.

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...

Understand what my skills are

'I' sentences

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.

Understand what my values are

'I' sentences

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.

Understand what my interests are

'I' sentences

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.

Find career ideas using quizzes

Buzz quiz

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 quiz

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

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.

Find career ideas linked to my favourite subject

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.

Professional associations

Official organisations for different subjects often have career pages with career ideas.

For example:

Find the facts about my 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 ServiceCareers Wales or Skills Development Scotland.

Prospects.ac.uk

Prospects has detailed job profiles for careers that involve going to university. Either browse by sector or use the A-Z guide.

Industry organisations

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.

For example:

Employer websites

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.

Find out about people's experiences of different careers

iCould

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:

Find out more about different courses and qualifications

​​​​​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

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.

Find out more about apprenticeships and school leaver jobs

Apprenticeships.gov.uk

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

Not Going To Uni and All About School Leavers both offer a database of apprenticeships and jobs (usually from larger organisations).

Decide what I'm going to do next

Take our mini course

Our mini course in career decision making gives you skills, insight and motivation to make great choices.

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!

Two against one

Two Against One generates scales you can use to assess a career idea and help you make choices. It particularly suits the more scientifically-minded!

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.

Take the next step towards my career idea

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

TargetCareer'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.

Figure out where to start!

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. 

Woman standing beside halo light

Possible selves

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.

Small pennant flag with 'EXPLORE' on it on a wooden tabletop.

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.

Flow chart diagram showing self awareness, occupational awareness, decision making and taking action.

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.

Hand with each fingernail painted a different colour

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.

Running track with hurdle moved off to one side.

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.

Silhouetted woman raises her hand against sunilght

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.

Mini-course workbooks in PDF and Word formats (both designed for on-screen completion)

Workbook 1 - Possible selves - PDF PDF 235.35 KB
Workbook 1 - Possible selves - Word DOCX 168.26 KB
Workbook 2 - Decision making myths - PDF PDF 744.52 KB
Workbook 2 - Decision making myths - Word DOCX 305.73 KB
Workbook 3 - What stage am I at? - PDF PDF 322.55 KB
Workbook 3 - What stage am I at? - Word DOCX 162.89 KB
Workbook 4 - Decision making styles - PDF PDF 294.01 KB
Workbook 4 - Decision making styles - Word DOCX 59.73 KB
Workbook 5 - Overcoming obstacles - PDF PDF 467.34 KB
Workbook 5 - Overcoming obstacles - Word DOCX 141.3 KB
Workbook 6 - Goal setting and action planning - PDF PDF 221.84 KB
Workbook 6 - Goal setting and action planning - Word DOCX 57.13 KB