Career planning is an overwhelming task for most people, but it’s extremely crucial for making a successful career. Most people often avoid this step due to fear of failure.
But planning for a successful career necessarily doesn’t mean getting success at your first attempt, it’s all about remaining on right track with proper direction to achieve your career goals by continuously optimizing and adjusting your action plan with a lot of failures.
So, let’s dive into how to do effective career planning practically.
What is career planning?
Career planning is an ongoing process of setting career goals and making an effective action plan to achieve them by exploring several possible ways that fit with personal talent, learning capacity, and market demand. It’s an indispensable set of practices that help you manage your career path efficiently.
Why is career planning important?
Career planning is an essential exercise to easily manage the overwhelming hassles of a career and success paths. It keeps you on track with purposeful persistence to achieve your goals.
Benefits of career planning
Career planning helps an individual in many different ways. The most common benefits of career planning include, not limited to –
Figuring out career goals –
Career planning helps to figure out career objectives and goals through analyzing an individual’s learning and working capacity along with market demand efficiently. With a proper career plan, you don’t need to work aimlessly, rather chase your career purpose and objectives in a better way.
Focusing on a career path –
A perfect career plan keeps you always focused on your purpose and objectives with a clear understanding of your career path. It helps you identify and avoid wrong and negative aspects of your life. Also, you can handle your struggle periods and avoid feeling lost or even depressive conditions with the help of your focused attitude.
Saving energy and time –
Career planning helps you skip works and activities that don’t align with your objectives and goals, resulting in saving lots of time and energy. It helps you choose the correct profession and prevents you from going after a profession that doesn’t suit you. The earlier you prepare your career plan, the more time and energy you save.
Making wise decisions –
Career planning helps you clearly understand your career journey and lets you make wise decisions for the coming future. This way, you can get success in your career faster.
Practical tips for effective career planning
When it comes to creating a successful career plan, it’s always better to explore the market demand first through in-depth market research. You should figure out different career areas that are in high demand across all industries.
Explore different company reviews and conduct overall research related to job profiles, work culture, job responsibilities, salary packages, and most importantly growth opportunities. Also, try to find out different market trends that are highly respected among industries in the current situation.
Try to reach out to as many working professionals as you can within your network to get on-ground perspectives by talking with them about their fields. You can also try job shadowing of professionals if possible. This means you will observe professionals in the practical fields of the jobs. You can witness a professional in the practical ground for an hour or even for 3 to 4 days where possible.
Thorough market research will help you understand the global demand and work responsibilities of different job profiles. Whenever you conduct your market research, make sure you take notes and keep records of all the information you gathered.
Once you have completed your market research, now it’s time to self-assessment. To create a successful and effective career plan, you will have to identify your own interests, capacity, weaknesses, and most importantly your purpose in life.
However, I have seen many people skip the spiritual aspects in the initial stages of career planning, and in the middle of their career and life, they face midlife spiritual crisis and regret their previous career planning decisions, and sometimes begin a new career from scratch.
Therefore, I highly recommend considering your spiritual aspects from scratch of your career planning so that you won’t face any regressive situation in the coming future. In this way, you can get complete emotional comfortable in your career as well as saving a lot of time and energy.
To figure out your strengths and weaknesses, you can ask yourself the following questions –
- What do I love doing most?
- What can I do 24 hours without feeling exhausted?
- What inspires me?
- What are the things I am very good at?
- what are the things I am bad at?
- What is my purpose in life?
- What type of lifestyle do I want?
- what are my previous failures and achievements?
- What qualifications do I have and what can I learn further?
- What experience and expertise do I have?
- What do I crave to be known for?
- What are my goals in life?
Write down all the answers to these questions and keep the record.
Match your strengths and interests with market demand
In the 3rd step of your career planning, you will need to match your strengths and interests with highly demanded career profiles. This means you will have to pick up certain high demanded job profiles that align your interests and strengths to create a separate list.
Once you have created a list of job profiles that matches your interests and capacity, ask yourself for each of the job profiles –
- Is this job interesting to me?
- Can this job help me achieve my goals?
- Do my qualifications align with this job?
- Does my capacity match this job?
- Will I be able to learn new things required for this job?
- Does this industry match my preferred lifestyle?
Once you have got answers to these questions, you have your final list ready and it’s time to proceed to the next step.
You can analyze these factors on your own or can get professional help by consulting with a professional career counselor or a career coach. Professionals may suggest you a psychometric test for an in-depth analysis.
You can also consider using various online career analyzing tools such as Career quiz, Personality test, and 123 Career test. Keep records of everything as the acquired information is crucial for your effective career planning.
Identifying the gap
For all the wishful job profiles that are added to your final list, note down resources, expertise, experiences, and skills required for each one of them.
Identify the gap between you and your desired job profiles. This means, figure out what skills, experiences, and qualifications you have and what you will need to get these job profiles. You may find out some skill gaps, qualification gaps, or experience gaps.
You can talk to professionals to get a clearer idea about skills, experiences, and qualifications requirements. You can also consider navigating several job descriptions on the internet as well.
Filling the gap
Once you have clearly identified the gaps between you and your desirable short-listed job profiles, look for different ways to fill up the gaps. For example, consider enrolling in new courses for learning new skills or consider taking up an internship program for gaining relevant experience. This way, you will be confident in your preferred career field.
If you have made a serious decision about a job profile, you may even consider taking a full-time regular course from a college or university. There’s no age for changing your career track or learning new things. For instance, if you feel that a Master’s degree is required for boosting your career, don’t halt yourself to pursue the degree.
However, it’s not possible for everyone to take full-time regular courses, especially while having some family responsibilities. Search for alternatives like part-time, weekend, or distance courses. Make a practical and wise decision, keeping in mind your surrounding situations.
There are various open universities that offer distance professional and degree courses such as IGNOU, NSOU, etc.
Making a choice
Out of all the career profiles that you have shortlisted, you will have to narrow down your choices. Evaluate the overall cost you will have to incur for each of your preferred career profiles. Select the role that matches well with your goals, interests, and abilities.
In your initial stage, it’s recommended to narrow down to 2-3 career choices. If you have completed your assessment, research, and evaluation carefully, you will have a better idea for making your final choices.
Creating an action plan
Once you have your final list ready, now it’s time to create an effective action plan to achieve your career goals. You should have a clear idea about where you are right now and where you want to be in the future. Your action plan should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely).
From beginning your learning skills to starting your job, write down each and every step in your action plan. Set time-bound for each step and evaluate your journey from time to time. Remain flexible in your action plan to adjust your tasks as and when necessary.
In this continuously evolving world, it’s not impossible that the market demand and career goals may change accordingly. In this case, it’s essential to review your career plan and make adjustments as per your new goals.
You might need to further improve your skill levels by learning more new skills while changing your career path. But it’s always advisable to stick to something with purposeful persistence that you truly love and are passionate about.
Additional tips for career planning
- Get help from a mentor – find out and get help from a mentor who has already achieved what you want to achieve and offering mentoring service. A mentor’s guide can make a huge difference in your career as he is living your dream life practically and has crossed the journey that you will need to cover.
- Keep updated – career planning isn’t necessarily a one-time exercise, it’s a lifelong practice. Thus, you should always optimize your plan and update it with necessary adjustments to the current circumstances.
- Be realistic – do not get too emotional with your dreams. Be practical while making your career plan. Always keep in mind what is realistic and achievable with your own ground situations and available resources.
- Use your network – if you find someone who is on the same track similar to you within your network, get connected and discuss the resources and strategies. This will make you more knowledgeable about your process and help speed up your journey.
- Shift career when needed – if you’re not delighted with your current career position and want to shift to a better profession, don’t hesitate to shift. Your age is just a number to begin your dream career.
- Keep options open – if you don’t get your desired profession in your selected industry, be flexible to exploring other industries as per your interests and strengths.
Though it seems overwhelming with a lot of work, effective career planning is worth it. Your dreams can come true and you can live your desired life only through effective career planning. It will enhance your confidence and help you improve your weak areas in a more effective and practical way. So, start your process of making an effective career plan right now.
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Debajyoti Banerjee is the Founder, Director & CEO of Seven Boats - A leading digital marketing agency & digital marketing training institute in India since 2011. He is a Google & LinkedIn Certified Digital Marketer & Trainer, Brand Strategist, Consultant & Entrepreneur. Debajyoti has 17+ years of domain expertise & successful track records in Digital Marketing & emerging technologies. Learn more
Website : https://www.7boats.com/