Career Planner: Definition and How To Outline Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 October 2022

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A prosperous career can provide professional and personal fulfilment. Securing the job of your dream may require dedication and time commitment, which is why you may benefit from developing a strategic plan. Specifying your desires and credentials for your career can help you find the position that's best for you and stay organised in your quest toward your goal. In this article, we explain the significance of a career planner and detail the aspects of exercising the next stages of your occupational journey.

Read more: Interview Question: 'What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?'

What is a career planner?

Career planning is the process of contemplating your ideal profession and outlining a series of actionable steps to achieve your vision. It enables you to learn about employment opportunities that suit your passions and review the educational and training requirements of your desired role. You can establish long-term goals, which visualise your occupational status in five, 10 or 20 years. Each stage can also have short-term milestones that ensure you're making efficient progress according to your timeline. As you execute the steps of your career plan, you can reevaluate your aspirations and modify your objectives if your interests change.

Read more: How To Make a Career Plan and Set Career Goals (With Benefits)

Steps of the career planning process

Review the following steps of the career planning process to start your own:

1. Self-exploration and assessment

To make informed decisions about your career, the first step is to discover what you want to do and what job duties you can perform effectively. You can also think about your needs, such as the salary to fund your lifestyle and the schedule flexibility that allows you to tend to your personal life. Discover your job aspirations by compiling your characteristics in a series of lists. For example, one list can display your strong technical skills, while another can outline tasks you enjoy completing. Another option is to participate in assessments. Here are some examples:

  • Gauge your workplace preferences. Complete a value evaluation to determine your preferred work environment, such as performing independently or being a member of your team. Discern the impact you strive to have on society with your career and your priorities for achieving prestige with your job title or contributions.

  • Categorise your interests. An interest evaluation includes questions that gauge your likes and dislikes about job responsibilities, which can help you identify occupations that can be fun for you. For instance, if your results show you're artistic, then you might consider a career as a content creator or photographer.

  • Evaluate your personality. Fulfil a personality evaluation to find out the type of position and organisational culture where you may feel more comfortable. For example, if the assessment shows you're extroverted, then the prospect of meeting with clients and collaborating with your coworkers may excite you.

  • Rank your proficiencies. Employers often require professionals to have a certain level of proficiency in job skills. Consider undergoing an aptitude test to ascertain if you can benefit from additional training, which can help you estimate the time and financial resources your coveted position may consume.

Read more: What Are Common Types of Career Aptitude Tests?

2. Career research

The second step is to collect background information on the professions you're likely to pursue. Access job descriptions to review the responsibilities of the role and the personality traits companies prefer in employees. You can also pay attention to the credentials the roles require. Some organisations may seek candidates with work experience, while others may require master's degrees or certifications before hiring a person for the position. For instance, if you want to work in the health care field, then you might analyse the admission requirements to get into medical school and the licences that authorise you to treat patients.

Minimise your list of prospective careers by gaining personal insight into what it's like to fulfil the positions. You can engage with online discussion forums, which enables you to receive advice from industry professionals and study their experiences in the role. Perhaps you know someone who has the job you're interested in, so you can interview them to obtain an insider's perspective. Another option is to peruse reviews of the potential job and company and document the advantages and drawbacks. Narrowing down your prospects can help you make your career plan more specific and attainable.

Related: What to Expect From Career Counselling? (With Examples)

3. Career exploration and experimentation

The third step is to experiment with your potential careers to indicate which job is right for you. Here are several options for job exploration:

  • Attend a career fair. A career fair is an event that invites you to speak with representatives of companies that offer the job you're seeking. Consider building connections with employers and exchanging contact information to stay informed about available positions in the future.

  • Volunteer with an organisation. Search for volunteer opportunities to gain exposure to the workplace culture surrounding your desired role. For instance, you may volunteer to coordinate a special event or charity function.

  • Work as an intern. As a university student, participating in an internship can allow you to acquire professional experience, boosting your qualifications for full-time jobs. You can learn directly from employees that have the jobs you want and discover what you like about the industry.

  • Enrol in relevant courses. A curriculum may challenge you to strengthen your soft and technical fields and expose you to the best practices for your industry. For example, if you want to work as a technology specialist, then your coursework may teach you how to operate and repair computers in the same ways as actual employees.

  • Seek mentorship. Mentors are professionals with extensive experience and knowledge about the career you're pursuing. They can motivate you to work harder at your craft and deliver constructive criticism on how you can improve.

Related: What Is Career Development? (With Strategies and Tips)

4. Decision-making and career selection

The fourth step is to identify the occupation you want to pursue. Compare the traits of each prospect using the qualifications you already have and the impressions you gained from your research and exploration. It may be beneficial to focus on alternative jobs that can help you advance to your ultimate professional goal. For instance, if you want to become a technical architect, then you might develop a career plan for software engineers or user interface designers that can provide the work experience and expertise for the leadership position you really want. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the demand for the job I want? It can be important for your career option to have longevity, allowing you to fulfil the same or a more advanced role in one industry for the next phases of your life. Contemplate if the demand for your prospective job may fluctuate in the future, and designate a step in your plan to help you stay employed.

  • Do I need to relocate to find opportunities? To heighten your chances of securing employment, you may choose to move to another city with a robust market for your field. If relocation is not in your plans, then focus on potential jobs that have vacancies in the area where you currently live.

  • Is it possible for me to maintain a healthy work-life balance? A work-life balance empowers you to perform competently as an employee and still have time to enjoy your free time, which may include making memories with your family and friends. Look for positions that can help you implement boundaries between the workplace and your leisure.

Related: How To Find a Rewarding Career in 9 Steps

5. Final planning and action

Once you've made the final selection, the fifth step is to establish an action plan for obtaining your career goal. Organise your steps according to the education and training the job requires. For example, if professionals typically have bachelor's degrees, then your first step is to earn a four-year degree in a relevant discipline.

Anticipate challenges you may encounter as you progress through your career, such as financial barriers to funding your education or familial obligations that may consume a lot of your time. Next, think about how you can overcome your challenges and accomplish your goals. Consider adding timelines to each step so you can track how far you've come and estimate how far you're working toward your milestone.

Related: Examples of Short-Term Goals To Improve Your Career

6. Job search and acceptance

The final step is to start your professional journey. Using the results of your evaluation assessments, write a cover letter and build a resume that reflects your employable attributes. You can emphasise the areas where you're proficient and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role you're seeking. Compare the salary ranges to the earning potential you documented on your career plan, and strategise how to differentiate your qualifications from competing candidates. During the interview, the employer may appreciate discussions about your aspirations, where you can highlight your interest in advancing in the company.

Related: How to Write an Email Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

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