Career planning is a process through which individuals evaluate interests, values, and skills and match them to career-related options. Both career planning and transition take time, forethought, and dedication.
The first task in career planning is information gathering. This requires assessing individual career interests, work values, and skills and gathering information about work environments (occupations or industries) that are a match to what one learns about oneself. This information is also used to make decisions about major selection and whether and where to attend graduate or professional school.
Once someone has enough information, he or she can begin making career planning decisions. The Career Services staff is available to assist with identifying and working through barriers to career decision making, such as misconceptions about careers, industries, or occupations; lack of experience or understanding with decision-making as a process; or other personal issues that may detract from being able to focus on career issues.
Individuals who develop concrete career plans are more likely to reach their career goals sooner than those that "shoot from the hip." Career Services can help to develop an alternative action plan.
Career changes come in two flavors: Your Choice and Not Your Choice
Regardless of how one gets to the point of a career change there are several important things to consider. First, what is your satisfaction level with your current job or occupation? Secondly, evaluating the current status of interests, skills, and values; how have these changed since your last occupational transition? Using this information, it is possible to determine the direction of the career change; a simple job change or a more radical change in career direction.
Choosing to change career direction or even employers is exciting -- it is also scary and daunting. Whatever the reason it is important to evaluate what specifically the reasons are that you aspire to make a change. These reasons will help you communicate more clearly your intentions both to yourself, your current employer, other people in your life, and your prospective employers.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of changing jobs or careers being your choice is the time to create a plan. In planning one can consider the questions to be answered in transition, the desired outcomes, and gather appropriate information and develop contacts to faciliate the transition. All of this without losing the material means of support (your current job) before you create the actual separation.
Even with a plan, and even though it is your choice, change is still difficult. Be prepared to deal with the emotions that come with any major life change. This aspect of career change makes it very important to have a good support structure in place that can help you in transition.
Among the most traumatic life changes for an adult is an involuntary separation from one's work. In the transition, it is important to address the shock and emotions that are inherent in such an event. Taking advantage of transition services, if offered is often helpful even if those services don't produce the exact results you would like - just having the support is important. If no assistance is offered it is helpful to find resources that specialize in assisting persons who are in this transition.
The actual planning process does not differ greatly from any other transition, but it will be especially important to formulate a strategy for addressing the question of why you are changing jobs or occupation. Networking is perhaps more vital in an involuntary separation because networking contacts can often intercede on your behalf assuring that prospective employers understand the situation and are assured by someone they trust of your ability to contribute positively to their organization.
After determining the direction of the change, the next step is information gathering. What and where are the opportunities that fall in-line with current career plans? Develop a database of opportunities and a communication plan that answers the following questions: What is my background and skill-set? How does that skill set meet the needs of prospective employers? If applicable, what are the reasons for the change in direction?
Throughout the process, networking is the key. Trinity University has an outstanding group of fellow alumni who form the Trinity Alumni Career Network. They are an excellent place to start and can lead to referrals to other alumni or persons who may work in and can provide advise directly related to your new career goals.
Finally, there is the actual job search plan itself. Setting up a "formal" plan that includes goals, strategies, timelines and benchmarks can be remarkably helpful. A plan provides organization and to some extent motivation, since one is able to see progress as it is set out in the plan.