A Guide To Planning and Navigating Your Career
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is career planning important?
Career planning is important because it allows you to set goals and create a strategy that will help you achieve them. Without career planning, you may not have a path to follow and it may be difficult to navigate your education, industries, and jobs. A career plan will also help you understand what skills you need and how to go about learning them.
What should you do first when planning your career?
The first step in planning your career is setting goals. What do you want to achieve in the future? This can be a job title, a salary, a skill, a degree, and more. Long-term goals are usually two to 10 years long. In order to achieve long-term goals, you’ll need to set short-term goals that will help you along the way.
What are the basic steps in the career planning process?
The basic steps in the career planning process include setting career goals, conducting research, determining jobs you want, building your skills and growing your experience, preparing your resume, and finally applying for jobs. After that, it’s all about continuing to develop and navigate your career through advancement, networking, and more.
When should a student start career planning?
Career planning should begin before you graduate school, whether that’s in high school or college, or even earlier. Students can explore skills and industries by joining clubs, reading books, watching movies, and more. Once a student identifies an industry or job that sparks their interest, they can begin the career planning process to map out how they can get there.
Career Planning Process
The career planning process involves taking the time to decide what your career goals are and how you'll get there. You might engage in this process on your own or with a guidance or career counselor.
A career path is a sequence of jobs that leads to your short- and long-term career goals. Some follow a linear career path within one field, while others change fields periodically to achieve career or personal goals.
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They include how you interact with colleagues, how you solve problems, and how you manage your work.
Career development is the process of choosing a career, improving your skills, and advancing along a career path. It's a lifelong process of learning and decision-making that brings you closer to your ideal job, skillset, and lifestyle.
Hard skills are part of the skill set that is required for a job. They include the technical skills required to accomplish specific tasks, and the expertise necessary for an individual to successfully do a job. They are job-specific and are typically listed in job postings and job descriptions.
Collaboration skills enable you to successfully work toward a common goal with others. They include communicating clearly, actively listening to others, taking responsibility for mistakes, and respecting the diversity of your colleagues.
Job Placement Tests
Job placement tests help determine what careers are best for people based on their personality, skills, interests, and other factors. They offer potentially actionable information that will help you as a job applicant.
Transferable skills are talents and abilities that can be used in many different jobs and career paths. They can be acquired through employment, school, internships, hobbies, and volunteer experiences.
Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively. It's one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants, as employees with these skills tend to be self-reliant. Problem-solving skills require quickly identifying the underlying issue and implementing a solution.
MIT Career Advising and Professional Development. “Make a Career Plan.”
Penn Carey Law, University of Pennsylvania. “Career Advancement Minute: Setting Short-Term and Long-Term Career Goals.”
California Lutheran University. “6 Steps for Career Planning.”