Good Career planning follows the same principles as planning for any other important venture in life, like building a house or traveling to another country. However, while a wrong travel plan and in some cases a wrong building plan may be imporved but choosing a wrong kind of career would take away irreplaceable precious time away from one’s life. That’s why a career planning starter should be given some real serious and informed thinking. There are numerous ways people plan what they decide to do for a living in their lives, but time tested universal techniques apply to most of us.
Here we examine a career planning starter in five steps:
1. Grab a Pen & Paper
The first and most important step, often ignored, for those who are starting a career planning or job search is to grab a pen and paper first (or their favorite word processor). Thatâ€™s a simple but the easiest first step in the journey that might be enjoyable and fruitful if handled wisely or may bring struggles if we waver from the focused path.
I want them to jot down all that they can think of doing for a living – however simple or outlandish that may be. Most people come out with a handful of choices, some of which belong to closely related fields while some are polar opposites. What this exercise does is that it gives a physical shape to their ideas â€“ practical and wishful – and the list now stares back at them to work on.
2. Separate the Wheat from the Chaff
Next comes some brainstorming about your written goals. You have to patiently go through each and think about why you would want to be one thing better than the other. You are certain to find some of these choices as being more in the comfort zone or because â€˜mom always tells me toâ€™ as opposed to others that you have always wanted to be or do, ever since you were a teenager. Either way, your own subconscious mind starts feeding you with ideas about them. Take a hard and long look at the options.
I would be the last person to break somebodyâ€™s dream or discourage them from achieving it. So it is up to you to decide whether out of the above list, you really want to pursue the dream of becoming a Hollywood producer or if you want to aim for the supervisor position at the local Wal-Mart. The important thing here is separating things that your gut tells you that you can and want to achieve from the ones that you would wryly smile at and say â€˜someday I might do that tooâ€™.
3. Relating Personal Strengths
The shortened list that you now have, has to be examined from a new angle – by associating your actual and perceived strengths with the chosen fields. Each one of us has certain strengths, physical or mental, that qualify us to perform certain actions better than others. Make a list – at least a mental list â€“ of some of the areas you are strong into. There must have been times when family or friends told you what they thought you were really good at from their observation and point of view. Add those things to your list.
For example, if you chose health care or nursing, is it in you to face blood and veins or a crisis situation. Or would you place satisfaction over physical stress as in the case of putting out fires as a fireman or while working as a construction worker. Would you rather be comfortable in an air conditioned office wearing nice suits and clicking away at computers because you donâ€™t mind playing with accounting numbers all day? Youâ€™ll start to have a lot of clarity and energy by this time about your real self.
4. Time to Meet a Career Counselor or Conduct Self-Assessment
When you have completed this much homework, it is time to seek out help from a professional like a career counselor. It depends, however, whether you have access to such services. For example, if you are graduating from an institution, you are likely to get help from that institutionâ€™s career counselor. Most North American cities also have non profit organizations funded by State to help the unemployed find work. Check your yellow pages or visit the web for relevant information.
If you decide to go the counselor way and are able to find the services of one, your job or career search will get a definite positive boost with the professional advice you will get. More resources will open to you that you ordinarily wouldn’t have realized were there in the first place. The counselor would surely be glad to see that you have already done your homework and are focused by having a researched direction. Even if you are not able to complete the previously mentioned process at home, the counselor would help you start afresh.
For those of you who for some reason are not able to avail these services (time constraints, non-availability), a self-assessment is in order. The first steps of self assessment we have already discussed. Further, you can make use of the free self assessment tools available on the internet. Youâ€™ll be surprised by the amount of information you get on the web, but I suggest that you stick with the reputed and time tested ones. The Myers-Briggs personality type test is one such informal personality test. It helps you find out the kind of career your personality is suitable for.
5. Training and Education
Now, you’ll be at a stage where you would have jotted down all kinds of careers, separated the ones you were confident you could and would follow, made sure your personal strengths matched your choices and used professional advice or self-assessment. Finally, you are ready to claim your place in the sun. Many of you must have come to this stage after you have already completed a relevant course, diploma or degree or training in sync with your chosen career path. Some others might be in career transition only where their work experience and previous training might be sufficient for now.
A few, however, might need to add, upgrade or begin a career related education and training. These people will actually be guided by the counselor about their choices and needs. For some, a full time training to reach their goal is possible and desirable while some others would need to keep the house and hearth going. The latter have to get training in their spare time while holding on to a part time job.
Finally, if all the above steps are followed with a seriousness warranted for career planning, there is no reason to stop you from taking your rightful place in the job market. This process, while being called ‘career planning starter’ would actually take you half way across your journey and make you a confident job applicant. Good Luck!!