August 8, 2008

Choosing a Right Career


Planning and Organizing are the keys to developing a career and finding a job. One should have the right tools to tackle the job market.

Career is more than earning money as it plays a major role in shaping the entire life of a professional.

Career planning is estimating, forecasting and calculating the path that helps in attaining the desired goals.

Need for Career Planning

Career planning is the first and foremost decision that every jobseeker has to take.

People work for the following reasons –

• To be socially acceptable
• To satiate their ego
• To obtain security
• To obtain respect
• To prove their worth
• To earn money

Initially people might work for money and it might satisfy them but as time passes, the individual looks only for happiness and satisfaction in their work. This happens because the work that an individual takes up has a very strong influence on his/her personality.

Today, there are a wide range of career options available. Generally, most of the people look up to their parent’s suggestions and advice and choose their careers accordingly. Some others merely pursue the careers, which their friends have taken up. Parental and peer pressure has a lot of influence in the career choice of many.

Most people make a mistake of choosing a career that brings a lot of rewards in the form of money or recognition but ultimately suffer from unhappiness and frustration. Planning for a wrong career causes disappointment, indecision, pressure and tension in family, causing loss of overall self-esteem, which is one of the main reasons for increase in suicides and hypertension problems amongst the youth. On the other hand, an individual who has chosen a right career has high spirits even while facing difficulties is still happy and loves his/her work by taking up challenges and emerging out as a winner. The secret to a successful career is to plan and choose a career according to the right fit.

Choosing a Right Career

Excellent career planning demands experience and maturity with relevant information. This can be done with the help of career counselors who match the personality of an individual with a particular job profile. The career must match an individual’s personality. Care must be taken to choose a right counselor who is experienced, has a strong desire to help and empathize with the individual who is seeking an advice.

The individual can observe the best of the results only when he/she has a complete faith in the counselor.

Career planning is basically of two types: short-term career planning that lasts for a period of two-five years and long-term career planning that is for span of five plus years. Some of the major barriers an individual may face during short-term career planning are analyzing ones current/future lifestyle, likes/dislikes, passions, strengths and weaknesses, definition of success, dream job, personality and the current situation.

In these days of rapid change where yesterday is always irrelevant the individual needs to identify and develop core skills that employers would continue to value even after a long span of five plus years. Some such skills are communication (both verbal and written), creative thinking, emotional intelligence, problem solving, decision-making and a total life commitment to learn new things in the core area of work. The best way to do this is by being very active always and keeping a tab on the various changes taking place in the specified area of work.

Tools for Career Planning

Career planning begins with self-awareness and self-understanding. Professionals must learn to continuously evaluate their skills, abilities, likes and dislikes before they establish their goals. Self assessment is the process of learning more about oneself. It is aimed at helping the candidates to avoid mistakes that could affect career and life. This is to ensure that one does not take up a job or a career without the knowledge of their interests and abilities.

The tools that can be used for career planning are:

• Self Assessment
• Gathering Information
• Career Preparation
• Career Management

Self-Assessment: It plays a major role in the career planning process that involves SWOT analysis, likes/dislikes, and knowledge of self.

• SWOT Analysis: SWOT analysis is the most important of the entire self- assessment process, which involves professional analysis of an individual’s Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are innate, and an individual has to learn to maximize his strengths and minimize the weaknesses. While evaluating strengths one has to avoid modesty but should be honest and realistic. One of the greatest strengths can be enjoying the work we do. As normal human beings find it very difficult to accept weaknesses but in order to excel incur life both professionally and personally one must give a lot of importance to the weaknesses and try to build on them and change them into strengths, which would make us better individuals?

• Likes/Dislikes: The likes and dislikes depend on the self-imposed restrictions. Some people for example like to work in a team and are very happy to work amongst people while the rest are very happy if they are left alone. Some prefer a stable job that does not involve much of travel and the others like to travel a lot. This personal awareness of likes and dislikes makes career choice simple and helps the professionals choose a career according to their personality.

• Knowledge of Self: Through a complete knowledge of self, an individual can determine his/her ability and aptitude and match these skills with the career choice. It is very important for an individual to possess knowledge of self and to know what they enjoy and what gives them total satisfaction. It might be minute task like fixing a washing machine, drawing, and painting, singing or probably writing an article requires skills and the individual can perform his/her best only when they enjoy doing it. Each individual possess unique skills.

• Gathering Information: The second crucial step is to gather complete information about the career choices made such as additional qualifications

Assessment Tests

Assessment tests help an individual in choosing a right career that meets individual goals and that best matches their skills, interests, values and training. There is a wide variety of these tests, which are available. But, one needs to be choosy while selecting these tests and choose only the ones developed specifically by practitioners.

Some of the commonly used tools are

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that helps individuals determines their personality types depending on their personal preferences and strengths. For example a person may be an ENFP (Extrovert Intuitive Feeling Perceiving) or of ISTJ (Introvert Sensing Thinking Judging). Some people show both the characteristics and are known as ambiverts who fall in between and can be characterized as E/INFP.

SIGI plus (System of Interactive Guidance and Information) is a tool that evaluates individual’s values, interests and activities. It integrates self-assessment with in depth and up-to-date information regarding an appropriate specific career opportunities.

Self-Directed Search method provides a three-letter code that describes individual personality/ career type. This test is accompanied with a booklet that provides that best possible career occupations for each of these codes. The individual has to match his/her code with the careers listed in the booklet. These lists can guide further occupational research you may want to do. All these tests can be available on the Internet for a nominal fee. or certifications required both in terms of time and monetary aspects. It is advisable to choose only those courses, which the individual is certain of accomplishing. Also, the individual has to check about the job opportunities, prospects of growth and development both personally and professionally.

• Career Preparation: After obtaining thorough knowledge about the planned career it is vital to have a thorough preparation in terms of getting a right education, which is not only a mere option but a great need. Education equips an individual to achieve success in the career chosen. The individual has to again know the subjects he/she is both good and bad and determine how he/she can make this dislike into a strong liking by probably putting an extra effort or by taking a special class etc. It is advisable to get hands on experience probably taking up a project in the similar course or working as a research associate to the professor, who teaches the same subject, etc., could add value to the course. It is imperative to remember that to be successful in any arena one needs to remember the four P’s-Preparations, Patience, Perseverance and Positive Attitude.

• Career Management: After choosing a career and conducting enough research on the pros and cons of the chosen career the next important issue in planning a career is to manage the chosen career efficiently. By managing careers properly individuals can expect to get better jobs and grow up the career ladder. The professional’s entire life, his/her happiness, satisfaction and even the family’s happiness and future prospects rely entirely on well-organized career management .Aiming for a good job and settling in a career of one’s choice hold a great importance in a professional’s life. You might be a fresher aiming for a good job, or might be in a wrong job, or might be thinking of leaving the present job because of a bad boss.

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