To define your career plan, carefully consider your desires, tastes, ideas and interests, and evaluate them realistically in terms of the current job market.
Let’s outline the process in 4 steps.
In this chapter, you will carry out steps 1 and 2 to find out more about yourself, both who you are and what you want.
In the next chapter, you will move on to steps 3 and 4, to put your career plan into action but also test it against the reality of the world of work.
The 4-step method
Below we outline the process in four consecutive steps that include transiting between your vision and the reality of the job market:
Personal exploration: what I like, what I do well, what I know <=> what experiences have allowed me to learn this?
Explore your professional interests and tastes: my preferences, my skills, what do I want? <=> which profession, sector of activity, type of company can I see myself in?
Visualise yourself in a professional context that attracts you: where do I see myself fitting in?
Assess the feasibility of your plans: how flexible am I in adapting to the job market?
Step 1: Personal exploration
Defining your career plan starts with looking at who you are and the type of person you would like to become. Think about your interests, tastes, skills and talents. Think about how these could be put to use in the current job market.
In order to discover who you really are, you should ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want to be doing in five years, ten years time? Let your imagination run free!
Who are the professionals I admire? Teachers, people working in companies or for NGOs, athletes, artists, family, friends and acquaintances, public figures or members of the local community?
Who captures my interest and admiration? What are they doing when that happens?
What do I like? What don’t I like? If you’re not sure what you like, then list everything you don’t like experiencing, doing or encountering and it will help you understand what you like!
What is important to me? What are my values (money, security, helping others, the common good, etc.)?
Here are some examples of values:
sense of responsibility
sense of duty
respect for life
It’s not easy to know who you are. Here are some ideas and resources to help you find answers to these questions:
Ask those who know you well: friends, relatives, colleagues or a former boss:
What do they like about you?
What are your qualities?
What behaviour of yours may be difficult for them to deal with or understand?
What advice would they give you to progress in life?
Get them to talk by asking open-ended questions (What? How? Why? Which? etc.)
Take a personality test, if you haven't already tried the ones mentioned in the first chapter of this course. Many people find the personality tests to be especially thought-provoking springboards into a personal exploration.
Create new encounters, discussions and experiences:
Reach out to your professional network, talk with your teachers and colleagues.
Explain your ideas to career guidance counsellors and professionals you meet in person or can contact via social networks.
Participate in workshops and meetings with other professionals or jobseekers.
The goal is to be informed, explore, make contact and put yourself in situations to see what you like, what attracts you and what doesn’t; observe your reactions and emotions and get to know yourself better.
To finish taking stock of your skills, use the skill list tables that you filled out previously. List your main skills:
your knowledge: what you know well and can use in the workplace;
your expertise: what you do well and what you enjoy doing; and
your social skills: what strengths allow you to succeed in your interactions.
Over to you! 😁
We recommend using a mind map like the one modeled below to organise your personal exploration.
A mind map is a visual representation of your ideas and actions yet to be taken. The layout gives you an overview of your whole plan in one quick glance!
You can map it on paper, or you can use one of several mindmapping tools available online or a software programme you're comfortable with (the mind map above was created using MS PowerPoint).
Step 2: Your professional interests and tastes
Now that you’ve thought more about who you are, it’s time to explore your professional interests and tastes such as the certain sectors of activity, companies and jobs that might appeal to you.
There’s only one way to do that: by discovering what possibilities the job market offers.
You should seek out encounters and experiences to further your understanding of the job market! Even if you have a good idea about the type of job and company that would suit you, you should still try to discover everything that the job market has to offer.
You will probably be surprised, and you’ll certainly discover new ideas to help develop your plan.
Reach out to professionals and ask them questions about their job.
Visit trade shows and conferences to meet professionals, and listen to them talk about their sector of activity, projects and challenges!
Do research on the Internet to see which sectors and professions are up-and-coming. Register with forums and groups specialising in the professions that appeal to you. Watch TED talks to find inspiration.
Chalk up experience if you lack it! Internships, student jobs, company team projects, etc., are all good ways to encounter the realities of the job market.
Over to you! 😁
Now expand your mind map to include your preferences in terms of sectors of activity, companies and jobs. Explore ideas! Nothing is set in stone.
Several steps are necessary to build your career plan; here are the first two:
Know yourself better: your qualities, values, skills, etc.
Explore your professional interests and tastes: your desires in terms of jobs but also sector of activity, business type, etc. You will need to explore the job market in order to fully understand what the job is like and fine-tune your choices as a result.
You have now identified 2 steps in the development of your career plan. Take the time to discuss it with others and to think about your choices.
Now you're ready to move on to the next chapter and start steps 3 and 4:
Visualise a professional context that appeals to you.
Assess the feasibility of your career choices.