The Career Planning Process

With so many career path topics, such as career path quizzes, tests, templates, plans and counseling, why is there any need for a separate category called "career planning process"? The reason is that all of those separate pieces of the process fit together to form something that, although ultimately focused on career as an outcome-a "product", so to speak, is fundamentally and unalterably a process.

Being a process means that career planning will have significant elements of change, adaptation and unpredictability; that its goals, resources, values and opportunities will be "subject to change without notice"; and, above all, that a career is primarily and always a "state of becoming", and almost never a "state of being"-a "work in progress" (even while at work).

Since all processes are subject to natural constraints and natural tendencies, e.g., toward stability or instability, being aware of the constraints that shape a career and career planning is crucial to making sure that the personal, human interventions in and contributions to the process help get the job and get the job done. In addition to all the other elements that constitute career planning, one key element in the career planning process whose importance must be taken into account and never overlooked is you and how you impact and shape the process.
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A career planning process can be likened to creating and following a road-map to success. It is the making and following of the map, not the map itself. Without any planning, your career process will only consist of muddling through your work, not realizing how your daily work routine fits into your overall plan for yourself. The career planning process not only defines, but also develops and evolves your personal objectives, laying out and shaping the rationale behind them, so that you can better focus your efforts into achieving them.

The process involves several steps, during which it also gives you the flexibility to adjust your career plans, which could, like anything subjected to an evolutionary adaptive process, change over time. For example, you might initially want to be a manager after some years of working. However, as your outlook or personal circumstances in life change, you might want to re-prioritize your work life such that you are willing to delay this goal by a few years, or you might even want to change profession altogether.

Some of the steps of the career planning process might be easier than others. Nonetheless, it is important that you think through each step carefully. Mull over every angle and brainstorm ideas at every step. For every step, there are also some self-assessment tests to guide you through, in case you are not sure what exactly you want, or know about yourself. The more focused your efforts are now, the more substantial and meaningful the planning process will be, and this will pay off in the long run.

Typically, the first step is self-assessment, in which you think about and write down your interests, values and goals in life. For example, what kind of work would you enjoy doing on a long-term basis and why? The second step is skills assessment. This step focuses less on your personality and character, but more on your strengths and weaknesses at work. The third step is to clearly state your career objectives, based on your own understanding of your interests, life goals, values,skills and strengths. The fourth step is to understand the external resources available to you, such as technology, training, contacts and information. The fifth is to come up with a well-structured career development plan, in which specific goals and milestones are set. The final step is implementation of the career development plan, at which point you take action to jump-start your career by picking up new skills, acquiring new experience, and/or taking steps to change your daily routines.
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