Success is not a matter of luck, especially when it comes to such concept as career success. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and others didn't get to the top of the heap just because of luck. Those are people who planned their success and executed that plan to achieve great things. Planning your career can significantly help people achieve their dreams and use their potential to the max. Regardless of age and status, everybody can make career planning happen. More than that, it is highly recommended to do it annually so that you know where you are going and what steps you are going to take in the nearest future to get there. It doesn't really matter whether you are a student, graduate, adult wishing to acquire new skills or seasoned professional who is thinking of a career change, deciding on your next career moves should always be on the to-do list. The reason why the majority of people don't do it is simply because they don't quite understand how they can plan their career and what practical things this process involves.
What Does Career Planning Involve?
While most people have never done meaningful career planning aimed to map your path, almost everybody did some parts of it. We all thought about our interests and preferences in terms of job search. All of us tried tried to explore learning and work options. There is probably no one who didn't think about how job will fit with one's personal circumstances and preferences. All of these things are nothing but components of career planning, however, if used chaotically these components rarely lead to success. When it comes to career planning, the key is a holistic and structured approach. Below you will find the pattern that should give you direction as to where you can start and what to do. Like we have said before, you can go through this process annually re-thinking your plans and preferences as life surprises you with new challenges.
Step 1: Self-Assessment. This is where you have to be honest with yourself and identify your likes and dislikes. Even if you are currently employed but doing something you really hate, you have to be honest and reflect on the things you feel most strongly about. Understanding who you are and where you want to be in future is impossible without identifying your values and things you want to pursue. To narrow it down, think about what it is that you want from work specifically. Financial independence? Effect change? Discover something new to become famous? It is only when you know where you are, what are your preferences, and where you want to be, you can think about ways how you can achieve your goals.
Step 2: Explore. As you have a good foundation for further planning, you can move on to exploring career options that are available based on the results of your self assessment. You can gather data about various occupations and industries using labor market information. After such preliminary investigation, you can work on eliminating those professions that don't appeal to you personally while researching more details for those positions that do. Once you have done that, you can research the specific qualifications required for the type of jobs you are interested in. Ideally, your skills and expertise should match the job requirements but there probably will be something you don't have. Identifying your gaps and looking for ways to gain the missing skills should be one of the priorities for the nearest future.
Step 3: Make a Plan and Take Action. At this point you can make a plan to start moving forward and reach the established goals. In order to do that, you need to have a guide that will lead you to the employment of your dreams. A well-developed plan will help you have such a guide. When you will be working on your plan, you will finally have to narrow down your career choices significantly which will make your plan practical. Identify your short-terms and long-term goals, decide what you will need to do to achieve them, develop a job search strategy, create a resume, learn of prospective employers, etc. - these are generic points. You have to tailor them to match your specific needs. Your plan must be adjusted to your reality so that you know what to do. When your plan is written, get to living it out.