Career planning is a lifelong process in selecting an occupation, locating career opportunities, professionally developing one’s self in a career, and possibly changing one’s career. It may happen once in your lifetime, but it is more likely to happen several times as an individual gains experience and redefines his or her self due a combination of their personal and/or career goals.
A Four-Step Process
The career planning process is comprised of four steps, D.I.G.S., where one should consider seeking the expertise and services of a career development professional to help through this process. Whether or not you choose to work with a professional or on your own, the amount of energy and commitment you put into choosing a career is important.
Self-assessment is the first step of gathering information about yourself in order to make an informed career decision. It is the first step of the career planning process and is often conducted with the help of a career development professional. Self-assessments measure:
- Preferred Environments
- Developmental Needs
- Your realities
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Gather information about employment outlook, salary, related occupations, education and training, and job duties.
- Explore the occupations in which you are interested
- Research the industries in which you would like to work
- Understand employment trends, salaries, requisite skills, etc.
Once you’ve researched a number of careers, narrow your options by:
- Job shadowing or seeking professional mentors
- Part-time employment, internships, or volunteer opportunities (e.g. community service)
- Conduct informational interviews with professionals/practitioners
Obtain relevant experience through an internship, part-time job, or volunteering to measure and test if this career path is enjoyable and sparks your passion.
Be able to answer this: “Am I passionate about this career path?”
Develop the steps you need to take in order to reach your goal, for example:
- Investigate sources of additional training, education and/or gaps to determine if anything is needed to qualify you for the career
- Make a decision
- Develop a job search strategy (e.g. resume, cover letter, networking)
- Take action and persevere toward your career goal