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May 29, 2020, by Leah Sharpe

Exploring career options – time to think creatively?

By Jo Workman, Employability Education Projects Officer

Knowing where to start when thinking about your future career can be tricky, and there are a number of models used by careers advisers to help you approach this. A widely used model is known as ‘DOTS’ which covers thinking about what opportunities are out there, developing your self-awareness, learning how to make a decision, and finally, working out how to transition into the role you have decided on.

So let’s look at some alternative ways to explore career ideas. Creative thinking is defined as looking at a problem or a situation from a different perspective to come up with something new or original, so here are some techniques to try:

Lateral thinking

Career thinking is often progressive. GCSE options lead to choosing A-levels, which leads to a degree subject, which leads to a first job. This pathway of logical steps is known as ‘vertical thinking’. Creative thinking may mean looking at your choices laterally instead. Lateral thinking generates options, so a starting question could be “what are my other interests on the side of my studies?”


Another technique to prompt creative thinking is reversal. This works by forcing you to look at the problem in a different way. Instead of “what’s the perfect job for me?” try asking yourself “what would be the worst job for me?” Sounds like a strange thing to do but sometimes it is easier to have an emotional reaction to what we do not want, rather than rationally thinking about what we do want.

Morphological analysis

Morphological analysis breaks down a problem into different attributes, each of which may have a number of alternatives. For example, if we take the where, what and how of your future career the options could be:


1. Stay in Nottingham

2. Go back to my hometown

3. Move to a new city


1. Closely linked to my degree

2. Partly linked to my degree

3. Not linked to my degree at all


1. Become self-employed

2. Choose a graduate job

3. Choose postgraduate study

This offers 27 different combinations! Once you know the options available, you might be able to choose which combination feels most inspiring, or is the best fit for you.

So if you have been wondering about the future, but aren’t sure where to start, try some creative thinking techniques and see what you come up with. Don’t forget our website is packed full of information to help support you. Try our interactive career decision-making exercise to narrow down your options or choose between several things. 

Posted in Careers AdviceChoosing Your Career