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4 Steps to Effective Career Planning

“What do you want to do when you finish college?” This has to be one the most difficult questions a student ever has to answer and many have no clear idea of the answer. Some have vague ideas or a rather woolly notion with no real substance and many simply choose whatever degree course is trendy at the time. This casual approach to career planning has resulted in a great many students leaving university with a useless qualification and a big student debt but still with no idea what career they wish to take up.

Career planning is an evolutionary process which changes with the twists and turns of life. Experiential learning a very influential factor as students discover their strengths, weaknesses and preferences in the employment environment. There are in fact four clear steps to the career planning process and these apply to school leavers, mature students seeking direction or working adults looking for a complete change of career.

All you need to do is choose the step which is nearest to your current position and start from there.

1. Who are you?

Consider your current position. Where would you like to be? What do you need to achieve this? Next, think about your current skill-set, interests and values then ask yourself the following questions. Make notes of your findings as you go through the process.

· Where am I at the moment?

· Where do I want to be?

· What do I want from my career?

· What activities do I really enjoy?

· What am I particularly good at

· What’s important to me in my life?

Now you have a clear idea of your personal goals, preferences and the sort of work you would most like to do.

2. Discovery

Now let’s consider in more detail what sort of work is of particular interest to you and what you most enjoy learning. Once this step is complete you will be in a better position to look more deeply into what qualifications you will need to attain in order to achieve that goal.

How do your current skills and experience align with your preferred career? What gaps are there in your knowledge base? Is it possible for you to study and gain additional qualifications to bridge these gaps? Are there opportunities in this field of work near where you live now or would you have to relocate?

Again, makes notes of your findings. Once this step is complete you’ll have a list of potential career options and what you need to do to get there.

3. Making a decision

The next step in the career planning process entails comparing the options you have arrived at in Step 2 and filtering them into a shortlist of the most suitable possibilities. Ask yourself questions like; what best suits your skills, values and interests, what opportunities are presented by the current jobs market and how would retraining fit in with your present domestic and work situation.

Carefully consider the pros and cons of each of the options on your shortlist. Look for potential stumbling blocks and think about what remedial action would be necessary to overcome them.

Now you have a clear list of your options and a better idea of what you need to do to achieve what you want.

4. Action plan

You’re now ready to formulate an action plan and put it in motion using everything you have learned through the previous steps.

Ask yourself what actions you will need to take to get to where you want to be and where can you obtain the assistance and support you need.

At the end of step 4 you will have a definitive plan together with a clear idea of what career options are available to you, what you need to do to achieve them and a plan which clearly outlines the action you will need to take.

Remember that the process is totally flexible and can be used at regular intervals during your working life to re-evaluate your position and keep you moving forward along the best career path for you.

 

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