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What sort of role is best for me?

Journey 4

They old saying “the grass is always greener” can be a total misconception. The grass you’re on could well be the best place for you to be, even if you think it’s not. This is because you sometimes consider others who work in a different sector or size of company/ organisation to be somehow better off. 

What you need to do is research thoroughly the pros and cons of each before you can make an informed decision, because each has its merits, and each has its disadvantages.

Children will tend to have their own ideas on their future employment, usually based around either a sense of what might be fun: dancer; firefighter; film star; jet pilot, or a natural caring characteristic: nurse; vet. Few, if any, announce an ambition to become, say, an auditor, or to have a role in middle management (although some may be influenced by their parents). Of course, these choices will usually change with the onset of adulthood and practicality sets in. And, clearly, the range available is vast.

Rather than specify one particular role amongst the millions available, let’s examine the sectors – and their individual appeal, or otherwise. If we start with the standard public sector vs private sector, the (taxpayer-funded) ‘Public’ can offer a number or attractive features: job security; clear and unambiguous lines for advancement; unaffected by economic downturns; known salary/remuneration; (usually) generous pension. On the other hand, the (profits-oriented)’ Private’ can provide: an opportunity to make a lot of money; less office bureaucracy; greater control of your destiny. So, each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, Scottish statistics for Sept 2018 show only 20.7% of the total working population in the public sector, although this figure is increasing.

Of course, some people wonder about the possible transition from public to private – or vice versa – and the truth is that there should be no issue here, as long as you’re aware of the constraints as well as the opportunities on offer. Don’t, however, assume that work will be the same, because it almost certainly won’t be.

The other sector consideration is the size of the employer. This can range from a major organisation (e.g. British Airways, RBS or the NHS) through small and medium-sized enterprises (so-called SMEs – usually 50-250 employees) and down to small companies. For graduates, large organisations can often offer schemes which encourage management potential – for example some, like NCR’s in Dundee, are truly exceptional – and the so-called ‘Big Four’ business consultancy firms provide well-paid apprenticeships for those who wish to follow a career in accountancy. 

Working in a small or medium-sized company, however, will probably allow you the opportunity to work in a variety of disciplines, thus broadening your ‘skills portfolio’. And the smaller the company or organisation – be it a private shoe shop or a small medical practice – the greater chance you will have to enjoy a hands-on role in determining the direction it takes; and you with it.

The range of possible options is vast. You must decide which option suits your needs best – and that may cover a variety of things to be considered – but carrying out resolute and tireless research first is vital. Speak to as many people as you can, possibly consider using the advice of a professional career coach, but ensure you’re in the right role, in the right sector, for all the right reasons.

So, there we have it – the range of opportunities is huge. (And we haven’t even mentioned the Services or self-employment as further options.) Each will have its own appeal, and everyone wants to be able to look back in retirement to a career well spent. Choosing the right path can be tricky and only you can pull together the various strands that fulfil that ambition.

Key Points

  • Which one - Public vs Private sector?
  • Possible transitioning one to the other
  • Size: major corporation or corner shop?
  • Graduate schemes and apprenticeships
  • The advantages on offer