Steps Involved In A Successful Career Planning Process

Updated 4 April 2023

The career-planning process helps you determine your career path based on your skills and interests. It involves taking a series of steps, such as self-evaluation, career research and action plan preparation to achieve your career goal. Following a proper career planning process ensures that you take complete control of your professional life. In this article, we discuss the meaning and benefits of a career planning process and detail the steps involved in it.

Related: Step-by-Step Guide for How To Make a Career Plan Effectively

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What Is A Career Planning Process?

Career planning process refers to the process of identifying your long-term career goals and setting up a work plan to achieve them. Before taking up a job, you are required to determine your interests and what you want to achieve in life. Based on that, you can explore various career options to match your goals. The career planning process helps you set clear, actionable steps in each stage of your career and evaluate your progress as you keep working towards your goal. It is a continuous process of learning, research, self-evaluation and fine-tuning of goals.

Benefits Of Following A Career Planning Process

Following a career planning process offers the following benefits:

  • It makes it easier to identify and set your long-term professional goals.

  • It helps you focus on your goals by setting a clear, actionable path ensuring you work in roles that align with your goals and interests.

  • It helps you set your priorities right and use your time and energy in a more effective manner.

  • It makes you more confident and conscious about your career choices.

  • It helps you prepare well for your career by motivating you to pursue necessary courses and training. Thus, you are more likely to excel in a job when you follow a proper career planning process.

Related: What Is The Importance Of Planning? (With Advantages)

Essential Steps In A Career Planning Process

Here are the essential steps involved in a career planning process. Depending on your career goals and life situations, you may be required to revisit or reiterate them several times.

1. Perform a self-evaluation

Understanding your personality, interests, skills and values is the first step in the career planning process. You can do this with the help of a career counsellor or on your own. Following are some of the important aspects you are required to consider while evaluating yourself:

  • Personality: Online tools like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can help you test and categorise your personality. MBTI defines 16 different types of personalities based on the permutation and combination of characteristics like whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, whether you use senses or intuition to receive information, whether you make decisions by thinking or feeling and whether you judge or perceive others. You are required to choose your career based on your personality. For example, if you are an introvert, you require to choose a career that needs less interaction with people throughout the day.

  • Values: Make a list of the values you want to abide by, such as your love for animals, your urge to contribute to the society through your work and the amount of prestige you want from your work. This would help you filter the industries, companies and career options that are compatible with your values. For example, if your values do not allow you to harm animals through your eating or wearing preferences, you may decide that you would not work for the meat, leather or dairy industry and take out careers associated with such industries from your options.

  • Interests: Think about the activities you love participating in, types of people you love associating with and the kind of objects you love possessing. Your likes and dislikes can give you ideas about the career options you require to consider pursuing. Career counsellors often use interest profilers like the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) to match your interests with suitable career options. SII profiles your interests across six areas, namely occupation, subject areas, activities, leisure activities, people and your characteristics.

  • Strengths: List your skills and abilities like communication, negotiation, leadership, analytical, problem solving and patience. Analyse which of those skills you can further improve with education and training. This is essential for choosing a career in which you can do exceptionally well.

Related: Guide: How to Choose a Career

2. Research different career options

After identifying your personality, values, interests and strengths, you can start looking at different career options that match them. Make a list of career options along with roles and responsibilities associated with each of them. Go through relevant job profiles to get a better idea about what your shortlisted career options involve. Perform further research about the general work environment, advancement opportunities and labour market conditions. Based on your findings, you can add to, or narrow down your list of career choices.

Related: How to Find Your Desired Career Path

3. Explore and experiment with your career choices

Based on your final list of career choices, look for ways to get a closer look at each career. Here are some ideas to do this:

  • Informational interviews: In these interviews, you request a professional working in your desired area to answer your questions to help you understand the profession better. For example, you can use informational interviews to understand the recruitment criteria, salaries offered and skills required for a given career choice.

  • Job shadowing: It refers to the process of observing how professionals carry out their role in a real job. You can find someone in your network and accompany them to work for an hour, a day or a week. Job shadowing gives you a firsthand experience of how your typical day at work would be in a given job position.

  • Volunteering: You can join an organisation as a volunteer to test your ideal career choice. Volunteering positions are relatively easier to get than a full-time job, but they offer less or no pay at all. Volunteering would give you an opportunity to determine whether you would enjoy the career you are planning to enter.

Related: Utilise Your Aptitude to Find the Right Career

4. Identify and fill your qualification gaps

After you collect information about the skills, experience and education required for your career choices, compare them with what you possess to determine the areas you are required to work upon. You then require to find ways to fill those gaps with relevant education and training. For example, if you have completed your BBA (Bachelors of Business Administration) but realise that employers prefer candidates with an MBA for your chosen career, you can consider joining an MBA course to fill that gap in education.

Similarly, you may consider joining as an intern, working part-time, working under a mentor or pursuing higher studies to fill the gaps. The amount of money, time and resources you require to invest in filling these gaps depends on your individual circumstances and how serious you are about a given job role. For example, if you are a working professional and decide to pursue an MBA to excel in your career, you may want to look for online, part-time or correspondence courses unless you are very serious about leaving your job and spending two years in a full-time MBA.

Related: Learning Styles for Career Development

5. Make a career choice

You are required to now weigh your career choices assessing various factors, such as advantages and disadvantages, interest, pay and work-life balance. Reorganise your career list in the order of preference. This would help you identify your top career choices. You can also add similar or alternative careers to your top choices as you proceed towards making a final choice. Reassess your choices and keep only the top ones to narrow down your list to two or three options.

Related: How To Change Careers

6. Prepare an action plan

Once your career goal is ready, develop an action plan for its accomplishment. Break down your final long-term goal into smaller short-term goals and set clear deadlines for each stage. Consider and note down the financial, educational and personal considerations like college fees and family obligations. Include all the relevant details of things you require to do, such as preparing your CV, writing a cover letter and signing up on job portals. Keep striking off the tasks as you complete them. Be flexible and make necessary changes to your plan as and when required.

7. Start your job search

Based on your career plan, start looking for open positions in the companies you are interested in. Prepare your CV and cover letter for each job role you intend to apply for. Make sure the positions you apply for match your skills, interests and qualifications. Your CV and cover letter is required to show your passion for the job.

Your career plan can also help you remember the steps you have taken thus far to achieve your goal. You can use these to demonstrate your dedication, time management and goal-setting skills during the interview. Remember to assess every job offer against your career goal before accepting them.

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