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From college, many people already have some vision of what they want their professional lives to look like. Of course, imagining something and bringing it into reality are two entirely different things. This is why career planning is crucial. In the current world characterized by a highly competitive labor market, one cannot expect to have an easy and smooth career progression without adequate planning and strategizing.
Planning your career is, however, a long-term process with several stages. Thus, this article will discuss some of the crucial steps involved in career planning and how you can execute them effectively. Let’s get into it:
#1. Determine what career you want to pursue
The first step to planning your career is to understand what career you want to pursue. This applies whether you are a teenager still in college or already working but seeking a career change. An ideal career should be compatible with your strengths, skills, personality, interests, and talents. Thus, you can start by conducting an interest evaluation on yourself to narrow down the careers you’ll be willing to pursue.
You can also seek the help of a professional in this regard. People in colleges, for instance, can leverage the career counselors typically available.
#2. Become more qualified
Once you have identified your career path, the next step is to gather experience and skills that make you more likely to succeed. This starts with making informed educational decisions that align with your career choice. Furthermore, while you might not be able to land a full-time job right away, you can explore informational interviews, internships, volunteering activities, job shadowing opportunities, and mentorship with a professional.
These activities could be instrumental in improving your knowledge of how your chosen career path works in the real world while providing a bit of hands-on experience in some cases. In addition, these activities may help you acquire soft and transferable skills relevant to your career path.
After doing all this, write an excellent resume that accurately reflects the skills and experience you have acquired. This way, you can explore whatever job opportunities come up.
#3. Set clear career goals
The career planning process does not end after you have secured a job. Even then, setting short-term, medium-term, and long-term career goals is crucial. These goals would help determine your career trajectory. Importantly, you should set goals following the SMART approach, that is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Also, your goals don’t have to remain static throughout your career. As you progress, you must review your goals and recalibrate as necessary.
#4. Research and explore career advancement opportunities
It is easy to get complacent once you’ve landed a job. However, such a situation only makes for a stagnant or slow-growing career. To avoid this, it is crucial to pursue various career advancement opportunities. This is especially important because there are often fewer jobs available at the senior level, which means competition is more intense.
Career advancement opportunities could come in various forms. For instance, you can take courses or attend workshops to acquire new and in-demand skills for your career path. Similarly, you can switch jobs where such an opportunity arises to gain a broader experience.
#5. Plan for the end of your career
Many people end up having illustrious careers without adequately planning for retirement. This is something you want to avoid for several reasons. For instance, retirement often brings a sudden drop in income, which might make it challenging to maintain the lifestyle you are used to. Therefore, it is vital to start making retirement investments early in your career.
Furthermore, when you are nearing the end of your career, it is necessary to start considering post-retirement health insurance. In this regard, you can learn about medicare plans to select one that is right for you.
Planning your career is a process that lasts your entire work life. While many people might have a successful career without extensive planning, there is no doubt that career planning makes for a smoother career journey.