Career Planning is an Essential Activity Through Life
If there ever was a time when career planning was a thing that was limited to a particular stage, or a particular moment in one's life, that time is long gone. Career planning has gone beyond what a lot of people still remember it to be. You know that boring office woman you are advised to go talk to when you are having trouble identifying which career path would best suit your academic potentials. Or your cognitive and non-cognitive strengths and innate weaknesses. Like I said earlier, those days are long gone.
In today's world, people hardly stay in one job or in one career all their lives. There is a lot of movement between jobs, just as there is between careers. The fact that trends in each industry have become easier to follow has made these movements even more necessary. Career planning gives you that platform to make confident choices at certain times in your life. It is not only about work, but it is also about family, about your physical and mental health –career planning is all-encompassing.
In this post, we'll look at career planning, not as a one-off thing, but as a recurring activity throughout your life.
When You Should Begin to Consider Career Planning?
The workplace today is a lot more competitive than it used to be. Gone are the days when people get promoted based on how long they have been with an organization. Today, an organization can decide to appoint a rookie, fresh off college, leaving their long-standing staff to wonder if they hadn't been loyal enough.
It goes beyond loyalty. The rookie fresh off college understands this better than most. It is about planning each phase of your life in such a way that you are always positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that may come your way. A rookie fresh out of college understands what employers want for which roles; they take time out to learn these things, to improve their skillset in order to be considered for those roles. While many who already have jobs tend to rely only on loyalty.
Seeing college rookies (or people who generally do not have that much experience) land these relevant jobs isn't too surprising if we are honest here. There is a renewed effort in academic institutions of learning -from high school to college- to shift emphasis away from theoretical classroom learning to a kind of learning experience that is real-life based and more practical.
Thus, a student's academic prowess isn't now the only credentials they're judged on. A lot of other things come into play here, such as the ability to function as part of a group, leadership qualities, talents, and capabilities, how quickly they can learn new skills. In a way, this lays the foundation for career planning, as career counsellors –and of course the individuals themselves- can use the report collected (especially at the elementary stage) to have an idea of where they should be headed, career-wise.
Having said so much about how important it is to begin the process of career planning quite early in life, we also have to let you know that if you missed out on starting out early, it's not the end. Perhaps this is the beauty of career planning, and wherever you are on your journey to career fulfilment, you can always add career planning to the mix. Even if you are already at the top, the sky is only the beginning for you.
Check out the Career Aptitude Quiz
Career Planning as Continuous Process
The process of planning a career is continuous. At the same time, it follows a sequence. There are no laws, just you and your unique process. It does not have to be the same as with the people around you. Not even with your best mate. Human beings are quite complex in nature. We may all have the same body parts and mostly come in the same basic form -one head, two eyes, two ears, etc. Yet, in many other things such as talents, capabilities, assimilation, goals, aspirations, and development potentials, we are innately different. Thus, your career planning process is uniquely yours.
The process follows no particular chronological order. Rather, it is flexible, allowing you to make changes when you deem it fit, to go back one step when necessary, to skip another if the moment calls for it. When you change careers, you might need to repeat the entire process all over again. The process can thus be described as cyclic.
Career Planning Process can be Divided into the Following Basic Steps
Self-Assessment: Who you really are when you take a deep look at yourself, goes a long way in determining your career path in life. It's amazing how many seem to consciously or unconsciously ignore that part of planning a career. From values and skills to interests -our innate self is the first and most important thing to look at when planning a career. You must be able to compile a list of potential careers once this is done. Also, self-assessment should be continuous.
Exploring Careers: You almost cannot make a logical decision on which how you want your career to go if you don't have a considerable amount of decision on the options available to you. Gathering information is essential to the career planning process. Once you have a list of careers that could be potential fits for you- according to your self-assessment report, the next thing is to know as much as possible about them. This could be done by reading about them, talking to informed people, choosing and studying courses related to such careers, and volunteering/internships.
Targeting: Once you know all you need to know about your potentially fitting careers, you can now narrow your choices down to a particular career by ruling out those you consider inappropriate for you. You should do additional research as well. You might need to speak to a career counselor about all of these, to be really sure you are on the right track as regards your career planning efforts.
Prepare For Your Career: Having decided on which career you want to pursue, you must now begin to plan how you want to prepare for that career. You must begin to think of, as well as make conscious moves to enter the field and get actual experience in it. Identify what you need to attain success and amplify yourself to meet these requirements. Know what the trends are in this field, and how to use these trends to your advantage.
Market Yourself: Knowing all you need to know about your preferred career is one thing, knowing how to obtain employment into that field is another. You might even be interested in starting out on your own, but even that requires another kind of marketing. It's a bit like a marketing campaign project and needs to be treated as such.
Manage Your Career: This is the stage where you have been able to enter your preferred field/industry. But that is not all you want to do. You won't move up the ranks. You want to go all the way to the top. You need to be tactical about this. Also, this is the stage where you make decisions such as changing jobs/careers, knowing whether to prioritize your family, or to focus on the job. The career management is perhaps the most difficult part of it all, given the types of make-or-mar decisions you are likely to make at this point.
All these steps are fluid in nature. And they can go on for a lifetime. You are at liberty to move at the pace you want, at the pace you innate self requires to achieve your career planning goals, as long as you achieve them.
Don't forget to share your career planning experiences with us!