Career Planning: Choosing Your Path

Career planning means, to a great degree, choosing the path you want to take through life. The work you do to earn a living affects you not only financially, but also emotionally, psychologically and physically. It is therefore important that you give serious attention to career planning. That is especially true when you consider that many career opportunities available to people today did not even exist a few years ago, and more new fields are opening up all the time.

Career planning means having a clear understanding of the vocabulary of careers. Look at the following words:

Employment
Position
Job
Occupation
Career

At a glance they all seem to mean pretty much the same thing. However, there are subtle differences. A machine operator in a factory and the manager of a financial institution both have employment, but the manager would be much more likely to refer to his work as a position. When you become involved in career planning it is also important that you become familiar with these terms:


Career development
Career management
Career counseling
Career guidance


Each of these is a step in a systematic approach to ensuring that you find the career that is best for you, and advance through that career in a way that is satisfactory to you. In career planning you assess your own planning ability. You identify long-term goals and short-term goals. You make decisions, and evaluate your own flexibility, adaptability and resilience. These are going to be very important to you when it comes to meeting challenges. In the career planning process you take stock of your own personal management skills. This will involve lifestyle decisions, job-survival skills, interpersonal skills, role integration and work-leisure integration. Career planning also means having good personal marketing skills. Can you identify your skills and strengths? Do you know how to conduct an effective job search? What kind of an image do you project? Are you good at selling yourself? Is there anything you can do to make yourself more marketable? In career planning it is important that you are aware of what kinds of opportunities are out there. You must investigate labor market trends and find out about training opportunities. In all probability you are going to have more than one job or position during your working years. By using a well thought out career planning approach, you have a better chance of making each employment change a step forward. You will accumulate skills and experiences, and make yourself an increasingly productive and marketable individual.