Career Planning: An Essential Tool in Your Job Search

A bit of career planning now can lead to a lifetime of fulfillment.

Surveys typically show that a large percentage of people do not enjoy their work and are unhappy in their current position.

It doesn’t have to be that way – you don’t have to be stuck in a position you don’t enjoy and don’t find rewarding. With a little work through career planning in your job search, you can find a career that is a perfect match for your unique self.

What is career planning in your job search?

What is career planning? It’s a process of finding your ideal career – whether it’s your first job out of college or a big career change – based on your intrinsic interests, motivational traits, personal work style, personality, values, skills, and aptitudes. Studies have shown that when a career supports a person’s interests, they are typically happier, more successful, and fulfilled with their work life. And luckily, utilizing career planning in your job search isn’t difficult.

Why is career planning in your job search important?

Career planning in your job search helps to ensure you’re fulfilled in what many consider one of the most important aspects of their lives – your work. When we work full-time, we typically spend 40 or more hours a week working, so if you don’t enjoy or at least know the purpose behind your choice of work, then each passing week can be quite miserable. By using a bit of strategy and clarifying your career goals, you’re more likely to find fulfillment in your career choice. 

Another consideration that makes career planning in your job search essential is that it’s not uncommon for people to change careers today. People find that they enjoy a particular career path for a period of time, and then, for a myriad of reasons, they’re ready to change careers. Strategic career planning can support a successful career transition. 

Steps to career planning in your job search

Many are already using career planning in their job search, and it’s not too late to include it in yours. Let’s take a look at the five key steps to career planning:

  • Step 1: Career assessment

  • Step 2: Career and job research

  • Step 3: Career evaluation

  • Step 4: Career selection

  • Step 5: Job search

Step 1: Career assessment 

The first step in utilizing a career planning strategy is utilizing a variety of career assessment inventories, also known as tests. These types of tests can help you determine a better understanding of your: 

  • Career interests

  • Motivational traits

  • Personal work style

  • Personality

  • Work values

  • Skills and aptitudes

In more detail, applying a variety of career assessment tests can help to:

  • Discover interests and abilities related to your career

  • Identify specific occupations that match your interests, competencies, and personality

  • Identify fields of study that match your personality and interests

  • Identify your communications and leadership style

  • Determine how you work best

  • Understand how you adjust and react to demands in the workplace, specific personality types, and circumstances

  • Determine transferable skills and accomplishments

  • Recognize and prioritize your career-related values

To gather the above types of information, career assessments can be broken down into four primary categories:

  • Interest inventories. Interest inventories ask you a series of questions that focus on your interests. The Holland Code is a popular interest inventory theory often used in many career assessments today. 

  • Work value expectations. Work value inventories focus on the values you find most important in a work environment. Oftentimes, for these types of assessments, you’ll be given a list of several values, and you have to rank them in priority order. From there, you’ll learn the types of cultures that could work better for you than others. 

For example, if receiving recognition at work and having a lot of autonomy are two values that are more important than others, you’ll want to search for a company that emphasizes those types of values as well. Or maybe you’d rather feel like your coworkers are family and have leadership that gives clear direction in how to do your work. In that case, you’ll likely thrive working for a company that also values those areas. 

  • Personality assessment. Personality assessments or tests are excellent tools to better understand your personality, communication style, and how you operate in the world. Certain personality types do better in certain environments compared to others, so having a better understanding of your personality type can help you identify careers that set you up for success. The popular Meyers-Briggs is one of the most well-known personality tests.  

  • Aptitude and skills assessment. A skills or aptitude assessment tests your skill or aptitude level, giving you insights into what your current skills inventory looks like. A skills inventory can tell you the type of role you might excel at from a skills perspective, but not necessarily from an interests perspective. In other words, ideally, you’ll find a career path of interest that also aligns with your skills – though you might find you’ll need to upskill or fill in skills gaps to land a job you’re truly interested in. 

Understanding the information such assessments highlight about you can help ensure you’re picking a career that supports your unique traits and values. Once you complete your assessments, look for common themes and the type of work that could work well based on the different types of assessments. 

For example, suppose a personality assessment combined with an interest inventory assessment shows you don’t love to be in front of a large group of people presenting but do like to help people. In that case, you may not be excited about a career as a teacher, though a career as a therapist might be perfect for you.

You’ll find that there are several free career assessments online by doing a search on the keyword “career assessments.” You can also find several valuable career assessments through the following sites:

Many also turn to a career counselor or career coach to help them decide the best career path for them, especially those who are looking to change careers. 

Related reading: Should You Hire a Career Coach?

Step 2: Career and job research

Once you’ve completed a variety of career assessment tests and understand the results, the next step for career planning in your job search is to take the time to gather information about the suggested careers and work environments. Learning more about potential new jobs and career paths can help you determine whether or not you would be happy with them. Be sure to look into:

  • Common job descriptions for the suggested positions

  • Potential working environment and conditions

  • Necessary training and other qualifications needed

  • Potential for advancement

  • Employment trends

  • Future job outlook

  • Compensation

  • Related occupations

Use your gut, and fine tune the list. If you hate being outdoors and one of the work environments of a suggested career keeps you outdoors the majority of the time, it’s safe to eliminate that from the list. Does one of the recommended skills require another eight years of schooling? You might want to reconsider that, unless you’re interested in going back to school.

Keep working on the list until you’ve narrowed it down to a few career paths that feel good and feasible to you. 

Step 3: Career exploration

Now that you have a short list of career paths to consider, it’s time to find ways to explore those careers. Some options include:

  • Informational interviews. The goal of informational interviews is to gather information and insights about the jobs you’re considering. Reach out to people in your network and those who hold roles similar to the jobs you’re interested in and ask them if they’re open to an informational interview. 

  • Volunteering. Offering to volunteer for an organization you’re interested in or in a role you’re considering is a great way to see if you’ll actually like the type of work you’re contemplating.

  • Shadowing and observing. You can ask to shadow or observe someone at their place of work for a few days. This will give you a good idea of “what the day in the life of X” looks like.  

  • Internships. Many companies hire interns of various ages to fill open internship positions. An internship will give you hands-on experience and insights into the type of work environment you might be facing down the road.

  • Training. Seek out training programs, including online courses and certifications, that are necessary for the line of work you’re considering. If you find the training or certification to be dreadful or boring, you might want to rethink your career path. 

  • Part-time work. If you currently have a job that makes it difficult to get away and test out other career options, seek out part-time work in the field that fits with your schedule. Similar to an internship, part-time work provides the value of hands-on experience, giving you a good idea of what the career path would truly involve. 

Step 4: Career selection

Now, it’s time to move on to the exciting part of selecting a career path and going for it. Taking all of the research and insights you’ve gathered into consideration, it’s time to make a choice. What career path meets the majority of your career goals aligned with your career interests and values? 

Step 5: Job search 

Once you land on a career choice, you’re ready to move forward to begin the job search process. Here are some tips for an effective job search:

  • Focus your search. Instead of applying for just any job, focus your search on those that are of high interest and closely aligned with your career planning results. 

  • Network. Reach out to your network and let them know the type of job you’re interested in. 

  • Update your LinkedIn profile. The majority of employers use LinkedIn to recruit and research candidates, so be sure your LinkedIn profile is current and geared towards your desired career path. 

Related reading: How to Put LinkedIn on a Resume (with Examples)

  • Use job boards. Search for jobs on popular job boards and industry-specific job boards to support your job search. When using job boards, be sure to fill in your profile and set up job alerts to maximize efficiency. 

Related reading: Top Sites for Posting Your Resume and Enhancing Your Job Search

Related reading: How to Tailor Your Resume to a Specific Job Description

  • Create a cover letter. Even if the employer doesn’t ask for one, it’s generally agreed upon by experts that it’s best to submit a cover letter with each job application. A cover letter allows you to showcase your personality and clarify why you’re interested in the job more so than a resume alone can.

Related reading: How to Tailor Your Cover Letter for Each Job Application

  • Submit applications. Once you have your resume and cover letter ready, it’s time to submit applications to the jobs you’re interested in. When doing so, don’t rush, and follow application instructions carefully. 

  • Practice for the interview. After you’ve landed the coveted interview, practice to help you prepare and increase your chances of acing it and landing the job. 

Career planning in your job search is worth it!

Career planning in your job search is a task that doesn’t require much effort, but can greatly benefit you in the long run. Creating a job search plan that involves career planning will help you develop a targeted strategy for the types of jobs you’ll find enjoyable and fulfilling.

Have you used career planning in your job search to find the perfect job? The next step is the perfect resume. Need help? Get a free resume critique today.

Recommended reading:

Related Articles:

Source link
All Materials on this website/blog are only for Learning & Educational purposes. It is strictly recommended to buy the products from the original owner/publisher of these products. Our intention is not to infringe any copyright policy. If you are the copyright holder of any of the content uploaded on this site and don’t want it to be here. Instead of taking any other action, please contact us. Your complaint would be honored, and the highlighted content will be removed instantly.

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link