Career Planning – a phrase that leaves both freshmen as well as professionals pondering over the implications that ensue. Every day, a large number of people either decide their career path or choose to change it, most of it done in an impulse or through a surge of adrenaline. As an individual, it is important to determine which career is right for you, and also to discover a common ground between your career choices and your skills and personal interests, without hampering your professional or personal growth. This is where planning your career comes to play.

Keeping aside all hefty verbiage, career planning simply refers to planning out your professional goals and paths in a systematic manner, in alignment with your personal attributes and aspirations. It is an essential part of your professional life – be it commencement of your job or a shift in it. At some point, we all require planning out our lives – because let’s face it, a life without a plan is a life spent without purpose.

Whether you are a freshly graduated student wondering which career path will be the right choice for you or you are a working professional wishing to switch your job /career and are caught in the dilemma of career choice, career planning is a term that will come in handy. In its very essence, career planning comprises four important steps, which can be chosen according to the relevance to an individual:

Analyze clearly who and what you are as an individual

An important step is to evaluate yourself as a person – what are the skills that make you unique from others, what are your interests and particular areas where you excel – all these render an important role in shaping up your professional life. For example, if you are skilled at devising ideas regarding how a new product or a service can be beneficial to people, and your ideas are potentially feasible and viable, then you are probably a good fit for marketing. If developing codes for complex applications if your passion, then software development is definitely the right choice you could make. Sit down, identify and note down areas where you excel and things that excite you. In this way, rather than hovering endlessly in a vortex of infinite possibilities, you will have a few concrete things where you can start focusing.

Explore options fitting in your skills and interests

The next step in planning out is to find out the career avenues that align with your skills and interests. A key aspect to keep in mind here is whether you wish to churn money out of your talent or pursue what your heart aspires for. Either way, researching on the available options rather than wandering in the dark is a good choice, as it showcases a clear path for you to choose from. There are many ways to research regarding suitable job options – the most popular being searching the internet. Online job searches can be conducted through exploring various online job portals, searching on LinkedIn or through flipping over company websites’ careers section.

Whatever be the medium you choose, ensure that the career path you are interested in embraces either your skills or your interests. Lack of sync between your professional and personal skills/interests upsets the work-life balance and also creates a constant unrest in your mind, leading to unhappiness.

Set up goals and roadmaps to attain them

The task doesn’t end at choosing the appropriate job – it paves way for another step of setting up goals that in turn leads to actually working towards what you wish to achieve for yourself. Once you have decided on a couple of jobs that fit you, you can then proceed towards setting up goals and targets towards attaining that dream job. Start small, and gradually pave way to accommodate bigger changes, goals and targets, so as to inch closer to achieving the actual goal of getting the job you want. Explore opportunities wherein you can hone your skills to better fit the job you choose, such as attending any training or certification classes, workshops or seminars, as the case may be. Analyze what activities are pushing you towards achieving your goals and what activities are acting as an obstacle in your path. Identify such obstacles and make maximum use of the opportunities that arise.

Take concrete action

The final step is to take strong steps and actualize the plans and opportunities identified in the previous stages. If you plan to attend a particular skill-enhancing course to get your desired job, go ahead and complete it. Ensure you do not leave out on any prospect that could assist you in getting closer to the job you aspire for. In this context, a strong resume is essential to secure interviews from the companies you have been eyeing. Consider taking some time out and research for skills and qualifications of a job and frame a resume tailored for that job. Alternatively, you can also opt for getting your resume written by a professional writer, if you are out of time. A good resume coupled with the required skills and qualifications is a perfect combination to bag that coveted job you have been eyeing. Once done, start applying for jobs through various job portals or LinkedIn.

All the best!

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