5 Steps to Career Planning

 By Amit Nade

Are you planning your future career and not sure where to begin? Are you looking to change career paths? Whether you are just graduating high school, are currently in post-secondary, or you have already started working, it is never too early or too late to start career planning.

What is Career Planning?

It is:     

  • The process of matching your current and foreseeable needs, priorities, interests and abilities with the options available to you and re-evaluating your plans as necessary.              

It is not:

  • Making one big decision. 
  • A one-time event.
  • Choosing one occupation you have to work at for the rest of your life.
  • Doing a quick test with a printout of possible occupations.

There are 5 Steps in the Career Planning Process:

Step 1 - Self- Discovery 

Before you can find an occupation that is right for you, you have to know who you are. If you want to have a career you enjoy and find fulfilling, it helps to know what kind of things you like doing and what kind of things you are good at.

Areas to explore for Self-Discovery:

  • Interests – What are your interests?
  • Values (Work and Life) – What do you value the most when it comes to work and in your personal life?
  • Work Preferences – What are your specific choices when it comes to work?
  • Talents/Aptitudes – Discover what talents and abilities you possess.
  • Transferable Skills – What skills do you have that can be transferred from school life, volunteering etc. towards an occupation.?
  • Job Related Skills – What are the hard skills or technical skills that are used in a particular job?
  • Personal Traits - The way in which you interact with the world. They refer to how you do things rather than what you do. (Also referred to as self-management skills)

Step 2 – Identifying Alternatives

Once you have learned more about who you are, you’re ready to start exploring occupations that will match your interests, values, talents, skills, and personal traits.

Where do you start? It is estimated that there is somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 different occupations in today’s work world.

In order to identify alternatives, here are two steps you can take:

  • Cast a Wide Net: Create a list of different occupational choices that match with what you like and what you are good at. At this stage you want to gather as many occupations as possible. Do brainstorming on your own and with your parents, friends, teachers, relatives, colleagues etc. You can even come to YEC and our Employment Counsellors and support with brainstorming few ideas.
  • Find the Keepers: Once you have found a big number of options, now start narrowing down to what is a good fit for you. Choose your top 3-5 occupations. Remember that these occupations should match with your interests, values, skills, and talents.

Step 3 – Researching

Researching will support you to move to the next step. You can use resources like internet, libraries, career and employment services agencies, labour market information, informational interviewing, volunteering, or working part-time. www.alis.ca is a good resource to start conducting research.

Step 4 – Decision Making 

The next step is to evaluate your options and make a decision. Making decisions about your future is a big step. It is a step you will have to take, but you will want to consider all the options and weigh the positive and negative aspects of each. With over 7000 occupations in Canada, there won't be just one single occupation that suits you better. Your goal should be to find the most appropriate one, not the correct one.

Steps in the Decision-Making Process

  1. Name the decision.
  2. List the alternatives.
  3. Evaluate the alternatives and decide.
  4. Test your choice.
  5. Evaluate your decision.

Step 5 – Action Plan / Goal Setting 

Once the decision has been made on the occupational option you want to pursue, you are ready to move on to the last step of the career planning process: deciding how to pursue that occupation. This last step involves setting goals and choosing actions that will help you reach these goals.

Tips for Effective Action Plan:

  • Set long term and short-term goals for yourself
  • Use SMART acronym to help set goals:
    • Specific – Set goals as specific as possible.
    • Measurable – Set goals that allow you to measure your success.
    • Achievable – Set goals that stretch you but are still achievable.
    • Results-Oriented – Set goals that focus on results rather than activities.
    • Time-Frames – Help guide the process of meeting your goals.
  • Continue to assess and re-assess goals throughout the career planning process

Career planning is a process you will review throughout your lifetime. The earlier you start exploring your interests and values, the more prepared you will be. It’s never too late to start thinking about your future.

The Youth Employment Centre (YEC) offers FREE career planning support. These services are free to Calgary youth aged 15 - 24. Our Employment Counsellors are specialized and will meet with youth to discuss career expectations, education paths, and/or career changes. Connect with a Youth Employment Counsellor at YEC by calling 403-268-2490 or schedule an in-person appointment by clicking here clicking here.

Start now. Take hold of your future.

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