Career planning is an essential part not only of our professional lives, but our personal lives as well. Successful careers do not happen just because we close our eyes, take a deep breath, and wish for them. They have to be planned.
A career plan is a detailed roadmap that helps you get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. With a career plan, you not only map out the different jobs and promotions you seek, but also any additional experiences, training, or education you need in order to obtain those jobs and promotions
In fact, it is a long process which involves selecting an occupation, researching the opportunity in that occupation, taking action to land a good job, possibly changing careers midway and someday retiring.
It should not be viewed as a hard activity that has to be dreaded or put off but should be a rewarding and positive experience.
It’s never too soon or too late to start your career planning. Whether you are a beginner or changing career midway, here are a few tips and guidelines to get you moving along.
1. Determine your values:
What’s important to you? Take the time to really think about what it is you want or need from your work and from your career. Are you looking to make a difference in the world? Looking to be famous? Do you like autonomy or working as a member of a team? Do you like structure or lack of structure? Do you want to become financially independent? Do you want effect change? Take the time to understand the motives that drive your sense of success and happiness because they will impact both your short and long-term goals.
2. Know your strengths:
Studies reveal that the real key to success is fully utilizing your strengths and keeping away from activities which reveal your weaknesses. People sometimes try to convert weaknesses into strengths — an effort in futility. You should actually be spending time utilizing and increasing your strengths, which is your Unique Selling Proposition — the one thing that makes you different and more desirable than any other job-seeker.
3. Assess your skills:
The skills you have to offer — is also important. They can be broadly divided into:
- Knowledge-based skills — skills learned through past experience and education.
- Transferable skills — skills you can bring with you to any job.
- Personal skills — traits that make you who you are.
Time spent properly researching the career that you intend to undertake, and the field you wish to enter, is vital. Too often people choose the wrong careers because they are not aware of the varied vocations that exist within their field of study. When conducting career planning, you’ll find literally hundreds of different occupations to consider and evaluate as you search for the one or two that best fit you — for which you have a passion.
5. Find your passions:
If there is just one ideal goal of career planning it revolves around finding your career passion. Everyone has passions, but not everyone channels them properly. Many people work their entire lives in jobs and careers that are completely or partially unfulfilling. It’s never too late to do what you love. Career planning should be about finding that one or more possible careers in which you feel you belong — it’s about finding a career that energizes you, inspires you and excites you.
6. Continue learning:
It’s somewhat of a cliche, but information really does lead to power and success. Learning does not stop in school. If you want to be successful in your career, life-long learning is a requisite. Take the time to contemplate what types of educational experiences will help you achieve your career goals. In a constantly changing world, you can only catch up with the rapid developments in business, by learning and enhancing your knowledge and skills.
7. Taking Action:
Working on your Resume:
You absolutely cannot underestimate the importance of writing a good resume. A resume is a self-marketing document that summarizes your accomplishments, your education, as well as your work experience, and should reflect your special mix of skills and strengths. Especially in today’s job market, these are often the keys to getting the job that you want. It is advisable to customize your resume and have multiple versions for a variety of job-hunting and networking situations.
More jobs are found by networking than from any other source. “It is not what you know, but who you know”. It involves developing a broad list of contacts and encouraging them to assist you in looking for a new job or career direction. Many job openings exist in a “hidden” market–they are not advertised to the public. If you network with people in your industry, you are in a perfect position to hear about jobs in the hidden market and apply for them. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular career, company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network of contacts.
An interview is your chance to present your skills, experience, personal qualities and other strengths relating to the position you are applying for. There’s no question that the most successful job-seekers — those who receive multiple job offers — are the people who spend a good deal of time preparing for interviews. It is important to know about the company, the position and how your skills could be used in that company or role. This will help you prepare for what questions you may get asked. And by showing the interviewer you have done some research, you will show how keen you are for the job.
8. Review your career plan:
By reviewing your career plan periodically, you will be able to track your career choice and direction — and you’ll be better prepared to make a course correction, if required. In real life, we choose the paths that we believe will take us to our destinations, but we have to be open to embarking upon new paths which may emerge in the course of our journey. Just as having a plan is important, so is the importance of planning to be flexible. Once you begin regularly reviewing and planning your career using the tips provided in this article, you’ll find yourself better prepared for whatever lies ahead in your career — and in your life.