CAREER planning, to
the uninitiated, would be a one-time process, something that is
done by high school students or fresh graduates at the beginning
of their working life to choose a profession or career path. However,
nothing could be farther from the truth.
Considering that most
people change their careers (not jobs) as many as four to five
times in their working life, career planning is, and ought to
be- a lifetime process.
It is a process that
needs to be regularly reviewed, updated and changed.
While there are any
number of things that can affect the way your career shapes up-
circumstances, changes in attitude, your family, the economy,
market trends and even the stage of life you are in, a successful
career plan is one that can adapt to these changes and reinvent
itself when required.
Like the changes in
a man's life span, his career too undergoes various stages of
development; and, just like a person's life, career options too
are flexible in the initial stages, and have a propensity to become
more predictable later on. This is not to say that you cannot
break free of your chosen career at an advanced stage. -
In fact, many people
have done just that! But, it is also a fact that your options
will be limited once your career follows a set path for a certain
amount of time. So, what is the ideal stage to explore your career
When do you begin to
get into the skin of your career? When do you outgrow it? Is there
something called a seven-year itch or a mid-career crisis? When
is the ideal time to switch over to a new career? If these are
some of the questions that cross your mind when you think of career
planning, this article attempts to answer some of them.
whole new world: Assessment
a baby, its first real comprehension of faces, of sounds,
voices and colour can be an overwhelming experience. It
opens up a whole new world for them. Then curiosity takes
over, prompting them to explore the world around them.
with the feelings you go through when you are young, inexperienced
and not sure about what you want to be doing for the rest
of your life.
At the assessment
stage, you are almost like the baby as far as your future
career is concerned- unaware, gullible and irresolute.
In this stage, you are still getting ready for your life's
is characterised by a lack of direction, in that you are
not sure what your values, strengths, and weaknesses are.
You are curious to explore your options and find out what
fits you best.
tests or approaching a career counsellor or coach for
advice and direction can be of great help to you at this
stage of your career. Proper counselling can help you
get started in the right direction straight away without
loss of precious time or resources.
In the exploratory
stage of your career, you are researching on the opportunities
that exist for your kind of qualifications and personality
traits. This stage is characterized by feelings of confusion,
and excitement. You may feel overwhelmed by all the jobs
and opportunities that exist as you begin the process
You may find
yourself being pulled in different directions. If you
have a positive approach at this stage, you can learn
about many possibilities that you can explore. However,
to be successful, you have to do some serious preparation
road ahead: Commitment & retention
You have had
your fair share of adventure dabbling in diverse professions,
testing waters and having fun. Now you are ready to settle
down and stabilize your career.
In the commitment
stage, you will feel confident about what you want to
be doing for a career. At this stage your focus will be
on gaining knowledge and experience, setting long-term
goals and adopting a success-oriented mind-set.
You will want
to remain committed to your career by continually updating
your skill sets and staying on par with industry standards.
This is the most important stage of your career building
and change: Transition
of working very hard to achieve success in your career,
you suddenly find something amiss- it could be the lack
of growth opportunities, dearth of challenges or plain
boredom and disenchantment and you suddenly realize that
you have fallen into a rut.
You could call
it the (nth) year itch, mid-career crisis, world-weariness
or burnout- these are all symptoms that your career needs
stage is characterized by feelings of discomfort because
you are unsure of what you will be doing next (and/or
if you will be happy).
If the spirit
of adventure still beats in some corner of you heart,
now is probably the time you will break free, and make
conscious changes in your career direction by seeking
what you crave most, be it new opportunities, job satisfaction
or better work-life balance.
vary, and patterns change from individual to individual.
For some it may have very few changes or some may go through
a transition repeatedly.
Some may even
have very quick career cycles- they may complete the entire
cycle within a year or so! For others, it may take ten
or twenty years to come the full round.
A clear understanding
of the various stages of career development not only helps
to identify one's current priorities and chart out a career
plan for the future, but also helps leaders and managers
chart an effective career path for their employees.
In this stage,
individuals hover on to their preferred area of work.
It is a macro level understanding of a person's professional
interests. Individuals explore the various opportunities
available to them and identify their area of interest.
This is an
ideal stage for assessing employee interests and skills.
Charting out a career plan according to employee interests
keeps employees motivated and therefore ensures higher