Field of sunflowers

November 11, 2021, by Jackie Thompson

How to Prioritise Your Future Wellbeing When Exploring Career Options

By Hannah Woolley, Careers and Employability Consultant

At some point you’re likely to start thinking about what you’ll do next and begin to explore graduate jobs. Different people approach this at different points, and that’s fine, but whenever you decide the time is right, it’s worth trying to factor in your future wellbeing.

After all, who doesn’t want a job that makes them feel happy and healthy, fits in with their values, allows them to balance work with other aspects of their life, and provides support during challenging times? So, how can you prioritise your future wellbeing when exploring potential career options?

Tune in to your values and motivations

Doing a job or working for an organisation that feels at odds with your values can lead to frustration and become demoralising. By developing a sense of what really matters to you, you’ll be better placed to identify types of work and employers that can offer opportunities that feel meaningful.

Of course, what is important to each of us varies, so to pinpoint your own values you could:

1. consider your response to major events, such as the current pandemic, and think about what issues connected to this stand out as being most important to you

2. make a list of the principles that have guided any big decisions you’ve made in the past

3. think about behaviours you most appreciate in others and try to spot themes

4. take our online values questionnaire, Profiling for Success, on our website

Think about what you find energising as well as what you perform well

Knowing what you’re good at is obviously helpful when it comes to thinking about what you can offer an employer, but being able to tick off all the essential skills listed on a job description doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’ll find the role fulfilling. You might be able to perform a set of tasks extremely well, yet find them uninspiring and a bit tedious, which is unlikely to provide a positive experience at work.

So, when thinking about your skills, focus on how you feel when you use them and try to identify which ones are most energising and give you a sense of satisfaction. Once you’ve done that, you can then map these across to any potential career options.

Consider how each option might fit in with everything else you have going on

Take some time to think about how each option you identify is likely to fit in with your day to day lifestyle. You might relish the idea of starting a new chapter after graduation and look to reinvent your schedule, or you might prefer to maintain aspects of your existing lifestyle alongside a new job.

Either way, considering how you might achieve a sense of balance can help you to look after your overall wellbeing. For example, if pursuing a particular career meant that you’d be required to study for an additional professional qualification, would you see this as an exciting development opportunity and a worthwhile investment of time, or a source of additional pressure that might clash with other commitments and take up time you’d rather spend on other activities?

Research what wellbeing initiatives an employer offers

Once you’ve narrowed things down a little, spend some time investigating how any potential employers support their employees’ wellbeing. To gain real insight, attend careers events and speak to an employer’s representatives, or approach family, friends, or University of Nottingham alumni that work for organisations you’re interested in. Then, ask questions like:

1. Is there a sense of community?

2. Are there opportunities for colleagues to connect socially?

3. Are new starters offered a buddy or mentor?

4. How many hours do people tend to work per week?

5. What sort of development opportunities are available?

6. Is there a flexible working policy?

7. How are employees’ efforts recognised and rewarded?

8. Are employees encouraged to be healthy and active?

9. Is there any counselling or mental health provision?

10. How has your organisation taken action to support staff in difficult times, such as during the pandemic?

Get expert advice

We can help you to clarify your own career wellbeing priorities, identify and evaluate options, and work through any concerns you have about your future career.

You might find it helpful to book an appointment to speak to a careers adviser, or visit our career wellbeing webpage to discover a range of resources, support, and practical advice. 

Posted in Career wellbeingCareers Advice