Keys to Success for Taking Effective Career Planning Steps

Keys to Success

I previously provided a simple outline of five basic career planning steps. In this post, I’ll list some tips to be mindful of throughout each of these steps for active career planning:

  1. Self Assessment
  2. Exploration and Research
  3. Decision Making
  4. Taking Action
  5. Evaluation

Keys to Success for Conducting an Effective Self Assessment

  • Be aware that self assessment revolves around the full consideration, reflection, evaluation, and determination – and confirmation – of your interests, personality characteristics, values, and skills through the use of a variety of methods, such as using various career-related tools and instruments.
  • Be honest with yourself as you thoughtfully ponder and respond to self-assessment related questions, discussions, and exercises.
  • Review your online image and personal brand to see if you can pick up patterns of interests, personality style, values, and skills from all the information that’s already out there, if any.
  • Think deeply and critically as you reflect on past and current actions and thoughts to determine – or confirm – any emerging and already existing patterns.
  • Don’t forget to engage your trusted friends, family, and other folks (like a mentor) in your career planning endeavors.

Keys to Success for Effective Exploration and Research

  • Make the exploration and research step all about being in information gathering mode.
  • Learn about – and utilize – the gold standards in career planning resources, like the online Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Quintessential Careers website among others.
  • Take the time to explore, collect, and organize all available and relevant resources to analyze them and see what top options start to really stand out.
  • Put on your creative thinking hat when brainstorming possible career options.
  • Make that extra effort to pursue not-so-available resources because you just never know what useful information you will come across.
  • Keep an open mind as you collect and learn from new pieces of information.
  • Take the initiative to follow up on any informational leads that interest you. Again, make that extra effort.
  • Stay focused on the specific tasks at hand and committed to the intentional aspect of the career planning process. It takes time, work, and effort.
  • Learn about networking and conducting informational interviews.Then do them.
  • Organize your information on particular careers and majors by creating your own career research report.

Keys to Success for Effective Decision Making

  • Know that this step of the career planning process is when you put all the pieces of information about yourself and your carefully collected career information together as best as you can to narrow down your career choices as best as possible.
  • Identify your best career options after a comprehensive narrowing-down process based on matching up viable career options with your self-assessment information.
  • Learn about and utilize various decision-making strategies to make sure that your top career choice is a really great one for you.
  • Be as specific as you can in outlining the steps in achieving your short-term and long-term career-related goals by developing your own career action plan. A career action plan can also tie all your thoughts together in one central document.
  • Plan how you will go about building your network.
  • Trust not only the facts of your gathered information but also your intuition.
  • Remember that even though you might have come up with a great career choice and devised a carefully constructed career action plan, life is often unpredictable. Your career goals can change for many reasons, whether your circumstances change or unexpected opportunities arise seemingly out of nowhere. Still, having a career plan that you’ve put together thoughtfully can provide a road map that makes solid sense, while you keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities for planned happenstance.

Keys to Success for Effectively Taking Action

  • Realize that taking action is one of those things that’s often easier said than done.
  • Know that this stage is all about being proactive and confident with your career pursuits.
  • Believe in yourself, as you’ve put in all that time and energy in completely the previous steps. You’re now as ready as ever to start making those career-related decisions happen, such as:
    • choosing a major
    • declaring a major
    • changing a major
    • choosing a particular career
    • taking classes to begin a career change
    • networking and conducting informational interviews to get your foot in the door of a particular career field
    • changing jobs
    • and so on…

Keys to Success for Effective Evaluation

  • Keep in mind that many folks who achieve career success and satisfaction are the ones who continually evaluate and assess their world of work throughout their lifetime, keeping track of not only their career progress but also how they feel about their work.
  • Be on the look out for ways to continually gain knowledge and improve your skills (e.g. taking classes, attending conferences and workshops, etc.).
  • Seek feedback from trusted colleagues, your supervisor, and/or a mentor.
  • Continue to look out for new information and interesting opportunities by being proactive and engaged at work; this way, you lessen the chances of getting stuck in a career rut.

I conclude my brief introduction to purposeful career planning by providing five tips for effective career planning.



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