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.
Career Planning: 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.
1. Discover (Self-Assessment)
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. These include:
- Preferred Environments
2. Investigate (Occupational Research, Interviews, and Experience)
Gathering career information is an important because it includes current 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
- Research the Labor Market to understand employment trends, salaries, requisite skills, etc.
Once you’ve researched a number of careers, the next step in narrowing your options by:
- Job Shadowing or seek professional mentors
- Part-time employment, internships, or volunteer opportunities (e.g. community service)
- Conduct Informational interviews with professionals/practitioners
3. Gauge (Career Matches)
During the match phase of the process, you will develop a set of criteria and then:
- Identify possible occupations
- Evaluate these occupations based on your criteria
- Explore alternatives
- Choose both a short-term and a long-term option
4. Succeed (Decision-Making and Action Plan)
You will 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