Having a career plan is essential because it gives you a clear guide to follow. You’ll know what skills and experience you need for the future. However, developing a career plan can be difficult for many people.
How do you know where to start?
This guide has all of the steps you need! You can follow them to build your career plan. As your goals change, you may need to revisit the steps. Let’s get started!
1. Learn About Yourself
Before you set any goals for your career, you need to know about yourself. Start your self-exploration with a list- write down your skills, strengths, talents, and traits. This self-assessment should help you determine what careers are best suited to your personality and abilities.
If you’re still learning about yourself, you can take plenty of tests online. Personality or psychology assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, will give you insight into your unique characteristics. It would help if you also considered the various career assessment tools your college should offer.
While at career services, you should meet with a career counselor. If you’re not in college, you can still find career counselors in your local area. These counselors will get to know you, help you identify your skills and interests, and suggest career paths you haven’t thought of before. The services they offer are excellent for realizing new options available to you.
2. Conduct Research
During this step, you want to learn as much as possible about the field you’re interested in. You can explore different options and discover your interests. During this step, you should do a ton of online research and make sure to meet with people in the field. You can ask them questions and gain a better understanding of the work they do.
Make sure to reference the information you learned about yourself in step one. You want to think about how you would fit into the career roles you’re researching. Then, write down the basic information for the position. Your list should include:
- Educational requirements
- Experience and training requirements
- Level of demand
- Other relevant information
You’ll want to do this for all the jobs you’re interested in. Then, you can compare them and think about which options would be the best for you.
3. Start Setting Your Path
Next, it’s time to start setting goals. You’ll want to determine which industries you want to enter, then figure out what education and training you need to get there. It’s also vital that you find out where these positions are. Often, location is essential to people looking for a new job.
Your path may change over time- that’s normal! When your goals start changing, you’ll want to do the above steps again. That way, you can set your new path.
4. Participate in the Field
Once you’ve decided on your general path, you should participate in the field. This method is best for determining if the work is suited for you. You’ll want to job shadow professionals or volunteer in the area. You can also consider applying to internships for a more hands-on experience.
Depending on your industry, you may be able to jump right into part-time work or find a mentor to learn from. Many people also take classes to help be better prepared for their future careers. No matter what method you use to participate in the field, you’re sure to gain the insight and experience that you need.
5. Build a Resume
As you participate in the field, you can build a strong resume. You’ll want to include everything relating to the profession. For instance, any internships, jobs, or part-time work in the field will be beneficial to have there.
You can also join clubs and groups at your school. For instance, if you’re interested in finances, there are plenty of business-related clubs to participate in. You can include this information on your resume.
In addition to your resume, you’ll also want to have a high-quality cover letter and portfolio. You can visit your college’s career center for feedback and help with preparing these documents.
6. Gather Leads
During this step, you want to figure out what companies are hiring in your intended field. You can check the career center for leads as well. It helps if you keep the documents involved with your search well-organized.
You can attend workshops and career events. Your college likely hosts these fairs for their students- attending would significantly increase your chances of finding a solid lead! You should also focus on growing your professional networks online and in person.
7. Launch Your Official Search
Now that you know all there is to know about your field, it’s time to launch your job search! There are plenty of ways to start. However, you can find plenty of information and interview opportunities online.
Make sure to answer all phone calls during this stage and respond to employer emails promptly. Being available tells the hiring companies that you’re interested in working with them. You should also make sure to write “Thank You” letters after attending interviews. These letters significantly increase the odds of getting the job since they remind the interviewers of you.
As you participate in interviews, you’ll want to make sure to update your resume and other documents. You can include new skills and the work you do in the resume. When you receive a job offer, consider the work-life balance, salary, benefits, and how far you need to travel. Then, compare it with the lists you made in steps one and two.
Have Patience And Don’t Give Up
Finding a job in today’s market can be difficult. However, you’ll want to be patient and keep your search going. To ensure you get your dream job, you shouldn’t accept anything less! It’s also okay for your career plans to change over time as you grow and learn more about yourself.
Overall, it’s important to keep trying and follow all of the leads you find.