How do people make career choices – and find dream jobs?

Ever wondered how to choose or change careers? How is it that some people just seem to know which career is right for them and others just ‘pick and pray’. Well, your question is about to get answered with some academic research and practical advice that you can put into action right away.

How people make career choices

Research conducted by Kelly and Lee (2002) identified four key elements that contribute to the way people make career choice decisions.


Where you come from, who you are now and who you want to be in the future, combined with wider elements such as lifestyle, life purpose and demographic factors (such as sexuality, gender, race, and class) all influence how you perceive yourself in the world around you and the decisions you make about your career choice.

Understanding the environment:

Environmental influences can impact on the way you perceive the world of work. The impact of politics, the media, your family and friends, the job market and career opportunities available shape decisions. How you ‘see’ yourself and your perceptions of jobs are more relevant that things are actually like.

Decision-making and research skills:

As you would expect, this is an important aspect of the process. However, this is in conjunction with the value placed on rational logic, as well as gut instincts that influence decisions. This is sometimes referred to as ‘head or heart’ decisions. Depending upon which you place most value, your career decisions will be influenced accordingly.

Personal attributes:

As with everything else in life, there is variation in what skills and personal attributes people possess. Not everyone is equally equipped to make good career choices or able to put plans into action. Those who do not naturally have these skills can enhance them through specific tailored intervention.  It doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of having a dream job, it just means that you will need quality help to achieve it.

Discover your decision-making style with a free assessment

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Sample of the “What type of decision-maker are you?” assessment

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I first worked with Will whilst I was a junior member of a teaching team. I worked closely with him for around three years and he became a true mentor to me. During this time Will helped encourage me to discover my own leadership style and he mapped out what it takes to be successful. I highly recommend Will for life and career coaching.

Will is a professional, natural leader who manages to make you feel at ease. He manages to be both emphatic and encouraging, whilst also managing to challenge you to find your own answers. Will’s approach is totally non-judgmental and the sessions are really focused on you and on what you want to achieve. Working with Will has allowed me to address challenges I was facing and he brought a wealth of resources and practical tools to help me set goals, clarify my values, and explore avenues right away. Even though I left teaching 5 years ago, I still seek out Will for his help and guidance and I appreciate his versatility as a thought partner, ally, and coach. Our sessions are always productive and efficiently run, which is perfect for someone who is juggling many priorities! Will brings great communication, professionalism and quality to his work and I highly recommend him as a life/business coach.
- Jamie T (Leadership Coaching)

Highly recommended

I am so glad I found Mapleleaf Vision! Will has been super supportive and understood exactly what I needed to help me to redirect my focus. I now have fresh enthusiasm for what lies ahead.
- Greg M (Life Coaching)


Will at Mapleleaf vision fitted me in for a last minute decision-making session that I needed to make ASAP re. a job offer / career change. He was friendly, professional, and really knew his stuff! He unpicked things that I could never have done on my own. I’m so grateful to him & will be highly recommending him to everyone! Where there is a ‘Will’, there’s a way! Thank you, Will. You truly have a gift.
- Cat K (Career Coaching)