Career planning 101: Mapping your path

Not so long ago career planning consisted of finding a job and stumbling along from there. The game has changed considerably in the last few decades, and the power of career planning now lies firmly in your hands.

When it comes to reliable and independent information on career development plans, it’s hard to go past the tools and tips provided by government departments. Nearly every state government has a website with solid career-related advice and a suite of tools to make the process relatively foolproof.

Additionally, the federal government (in conjunction with the states) offers the myfuture site with information about career plans, training and education.

These agencies all assume a fairly similar, and eminently logical, path to career success. It starts with you – your talents, desires and values – because a successful career is ultimately one that brings you happiness and fulfilment.

So let’s take a look at four important steps that can help you with developing a career plan.

Step 1 - Who am I?

As children, we’ve all been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, now we’ve grown up and some of us still don’t know the answer to that question. It’s all about knowing your core values because the career that you enjoy will reflect these values.

Personal values fall into some broad categories:

  • Pragmatic values - The desire for security, wealth and achievement. These values might drive those suited to life in business.
  • Lifestyle values - The desire for variety and adventure. Such values might motivate people towards work in travel, hospitality and tourism.
  • Aesthetic values - A profound appreciation for beauty, creativity and self-expression. A career in the arts might appeal to those who hold these values.
  • Social values - A strong interest in creating a better, fairer and kinder world. With these tenets, you might gravitate to work in community services, therapeutic services, education, law or politics.

The world needs all types of people, so whatever it is that drives you, take pride in it and follow your passions. The Career Centre tool from the WA state government provides a useful way of getting a firmer handle on what your values are.

Step 2 - What am I good at?

Your values will lead you to an industry that you connect with, but your talents, abilities and skills are likely to determine what job you end up doing within that industry.

Maybe you’re a people person, a details wizard, a problem-solving machine or a sales celebrity. Whatever you are naturally good at; it’s a fair bet that it will be your ticket to success. That’s not to say you won’t need to develop your skills and acquire some more, but starting with your given talents is a good starting point to plan your career.

For a more complete picture, you might want to look at the free 16 Personalities profile test.

Step 3 - Close the gap

Once you identify a career or role that inspires you, start researching it. The myfuture site offers some good information on different career paths, or you can try contacting someone within that industry and ask questions about job or career requirements. Most people are more than happy to help, and your initiative might just land you a job offer.

Remember to consider the education and qualifications you need as part of your career plan, and how to get some relevant experience, the various pathways for application and what you can expect from the job. Most industries have a professional association that can steer you in the right direction for career building and planning.

Step 4 - Goals, planning, action

Using all the information you’ve collected so far, set some realistic but challenging goals and then start mapping your career path. You don’t need to know everything right away; just take the first step and then the next step after that. Most people are not held back by circumstances but by their own fears, doubts and inaction. You may get a few knock-backs along the way, but the most important thing is to make sure you are not knocking yourself back.

Follow your passions and interests, trust your talents, respect your skills and be willing to learn. If you’re prepared to do that, you’re on the right track to success. The expression “fortune favours the brave” often holds true, and you have nothing to lose by going for your dreams.

Need help with your career planning? Speak to one of our specialist recruitment consultants today to help connect you to the right job opportunities that will assist your career growth. For more information on career planning read our related article: 

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