What Is Mean by a Career Planning?
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Countless children have been asked this question through the decades. The question says it all really.
Yes, most of us have to work.
But we have to make choices as to what we want to work as, based off our interests, skills, and ambitions. This process is called career planning.
This process involves making big decisions with many factors to consider as work is central in most people’s lives. It is going to pay the bills but is also going to take up a great deal of time. It is going to come with obligations and responsibilities. Work, in fact, is going to decide how you live your life.
For that reason, the old adage, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” takes on a new significance when thinking about your career.
Table of Contents
What Is Career Planning?
In an ideal world, planning a career should happen at an early point in a person’s education. Deciding what “You want to be when you grow up” should happen easily and with a burst of enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. For the vast majority of people planning a career doesn’t happen automatically. You must make conscious decisions and choices about your skills and interests, the types of work environments you enjoy, and the studies and training you will undertake.
Failure to career plan leads to many people opting for jobs that do not suit them. Very often, they find themselves following a career that pays the bills but that gives them a less than enjoyable working experience.
Why Do People Fail To Career Plan?
For many young people, their lives in the educational system are devoted to passing examinations and to all that being young entails. But there is a lack of focus on the realities of different careers.
Career guidance counselors do their best to provide students with information on the career options open to them. Parents and guardians attempt to inspire young people to follow specific career routes. But for young people, all this information can very often leave them cold.
The world of work and paying bills is still set somewhere in the distance and is not their immediate concern. But with time, the reality of working life has to be considered.
What To Consider When Career Planning?
The person approaching a world where they will have to decide on a career needs to focus on a number of points before they come to a final decision.
First among them is the amount of time we spend at work. The average worker:
- Is likely to be working in a field for very many years to come
- Will be devoting approximately 40 hours a week to this type of work
- Can expect to spend a large proportion of the 52-week year working the job
All of that adds up to a large portion of a person’s waking hours. For a fulfilling life, they need to select a career where they can enjoy their work.
Picking a career you enjoy requires asking yourself serious questions and giving honest answers.
- What subjects did I most enjoy in school? What ones did I detest? Compile a list. When you can see something in front of you, it is easier to visualize where you may be headed.
- For each of the subjects listed, name a career that could come from that subject. For example, if the Sciences are on your favorite list, could that point you in the direction of a career in medicine, scientific research, or pharmacology?
However, if the Sciences are on the list of subjects you did not like, then those careers are obviously a no-no for you.
Work through all of your subjects to find the career you should be focusing on.
- Next, turn to your extra-curricular activities. Deal with them as you dealt with your school subjects.
Could any of them lead to a career? Again be honest with yourself. If you are an average sportsperson, then a career in the world of sports is unlikely to come beckoning.
However, you may have exceptional musical or artistic talent. Could you see yourself working in one of those areas?
Or why not combine your academic and leisure time favorites to find your career path? For example, you may have excelled in business subjects but also are good at cooking.
Consider maybe getting a degree in accountancy with the intention of opening a restaurant. Cook in your free time or do your business qualification at night while training as a chef.
The bottom line is that you are forging a career doing what you enjoy.
Given the amount of time you will spend working that career, enjoying it is as essential as making enough money to cover your expenses.
This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.
Many jobs demand a lot of interaction with colleagues and clients. For the people person, this very rarely presents a problem.
However, for the person who prefers to work alone, this can present difficulties. If you are a loner, you need to decide how easy you will find having to work on a team and decide if you can adjust to doing that type of work.
Alternatively, you may have to look at jobs where you will be working alone in your office. Think, for example, of jobs like accountancy, where a lot of the work is carried out within the four walls of your own office.
The same metrics apply when deciding if you want to work in a technical field, an academic one, or perhaps a creative one. Ideally, you will be personally suited to your career. Perhaps do a personality test to discover more about yourself.
Availability And Demand
Having decided on the type of work that you are most likely to enjoy, there are many other factors to take into consideration.
Chief among those, of course, is the availability of work in your particular field. You do not want to spend vast amounts of time and money on gaining a qualification that there is no demand for in the world of work.
Do your research into the hiring trends in the career you are looking at. If you are planning on undertaking a course of study, look at the current trends but also try to see what the trends are likely to be when you qualify.
But be careful. With constant changes in the economy, trends can change quickly. For example, something that is not doing well now may be approaching a boom period when you have qualified.
Look, for example, at the tech industry. It is now one of the booming areas, but not so terribly long ago, a career in tech came at the bottom of many people’s list of priorities.
You also need to look at the whole area of career advancement. If you are an ambitious person, it is highly unlikely that you will want to stay at entry-level career-wise for the duration of your working life. Research your career.
Ask, for example:
- Are there courses you can take throughout your working life to advance your position?
- Are there employment levels you can aspire to?
- Are there professional organizations you can join to keep abreast of new developments?
It is easy to think that once you get that first job, you will have money to spend. And, of course, you will.
But there is more to consider than the hard cash that wings its way to your bank account.
You need to consider if the job is going to give you the following:
- An opportunity to plan for your retirement
- Health and medical benefits
- Life insurance
- Benefits that cover other expenses. Some companies, for example, make contributions to employees’ gym
- expenses or to further training expenses.
Your job can influence where you live.
If you have to work onsite, you need to decide if you can happily move to a new location. Ask yourself if your personal circumstances will make moving to a different area more difficult for you and the people who matter to you.
On the other hand, the current move to remote or hybrid working may be in your favor.
However, to avail of that opportunity, you will need a desk-based job. If you are in that position, your employer will generally provide the tools that you need to carry out the work from your home-based office.
You, of course, will have to ensure you have reliable internet access but for most people, that shouldn’t pose a problem.
And More Money Questions
After the initial excitement of being a wage earner wears off, you will find that your concept of income changes.
What might seem like a large amount of money to a newly qualified person will become a smaller amount as life eats into your paycheck. As a student, you needed money to pay for food, leisure activities, and some extras.
As a working adult, other expenses will quickly rear their heads:
- Do you have student loans to repay?
- Can you afford to buy that car you have been promising yourself?
- Do you want to buy your own house? Can you save enough to get a mortgage, and can you repay a mortgage?
- Do you want to have children? And more importantly, can you afford to feed, clothe and educate them?
Your priorities will change, and your expenses will increase in tandem with them.
Some of the issues raised above hardly seem fair. You have worked hard to get an education and a qualification and are being catapulted into making life-changing decisions.
However, they are decisions that will influence the course of your life.
There will be mistakes along the way. Things may not always work out as planned. You may decide to change careers during the course of your working life, and that, too, is a feature of modern living.
But following the steps outlined above should make the challenges of the journey more manageable.
Written by Elizabeth O Mahony
With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.