Career Planning – Are You Following a Planned Career Path or Simply a Series of Jobs

Successfully managing your own career is critical for your
financial and personal well being. Yet it is rarely pursued on a
strategic or informed basis. Career planning, particularly in the
technology field, is more and more the responsibility of the individual.
Particularly, since most people today end up working for many
employers.

The overall basis for more successful career management
includes developing plans that are applicable at different stages in
your working life. And even more important if you plan on a career
change after 50.

Although living in the information age, there is
few comprehensive job information and planning resources available
online. Exploring a career versus job information is more readily
available once you have focused on a career path, such as technology or
even further, within a specific industry.

When employed the
employer generally provides training, successive jobs, and a defined
career ladder to the degree that it unites with the organization’s needs
and objectives. Outplacement counselors generally help people focus on
job searches rather than career plans. Recruiters are looking to fill
job positions with top candidates for employers who are their clients
and normally do not provide career planning services for individuals.

We
can generally fit career planning as having three major phases: early
stage from ages 16 to 33; middle, from 34 to 52; and later, beyond 53.
Many times, early career choices are highly influenced by parents,
relatives, teachers or close friends. The choices of technical schools,
colleges or graduate schools, as well as majors, begin to focus
interests for career paths.

It is important, in the early stages
of a career planning, to carefully make choices, as initial decisions
can have a major impact on longer term career success and ultimately,
happiness.

Mid-stage career planning and effort usually reflects
the initial experiences and jobs one has had with his or her early
career. It generally is an extension of that experience. At this stage,
there may be a thread of a career track, but job moves and knowledge
growth during this phase that are not well planned or executed can
result in important limits to career-growth.

Late-stage career
planning frequently results from the need to find the right position in
one’s career after an early retirement or a reduction in force. After 50
career planning at this stage generally reflects more entrepreneurial,
part time, or flexible working arrangements. This is when traditional
employment limitations as well as long developed interests come more
into focus.

Career planning at each stage of a person’s working
career can best be analyzed by considering the following: (1) Take stock
of your career. Define your career and objectives at regular intervals
preferably at least once a year. Do it in writing. (2) Research and
identify possible career options that could meet those career
objectives. (3) Evaluate your skills, personality, training and
experience. Develop a plan so you can pursue your career objectives. (4)
Make a decision as to which career options are the best. Build a plan
in the near, medium and long term to reach your career objectives. (5)
Be flexible as you monitor your progress. Refine the plan, challenge
yourself.

It’s critical for you to invest in career planning
during each stage of a successful career for short-, medium-and
long-term achievement. Ask yourself, are you following a well defined
career roadmap or simply working a succession of jobs? If you said yes
to the latter, it’s never to late to get started.