Knowing Yourself and Knowing How to Create Your Own Good Luck Are
Keys to Career Planning
by David P. Helfand, Ph.D.
The most important piece of advice I can offer today's job seeker
is to first figure out, as best as you can, exactly what you want
to do. This is the first and possibly the most important step in
the career planning process. If relevant career options are not
identified, the remaining steps (researching career options, resume
writing, job searching, and interviewing) become more and more difficult
to complete and, when completed, are more likely to result in job
Once you have identified what you most want to do, everything else
that follows falls into place more easily. Researching career ideas
is more focused, resumes are easier to complete and reflect greater
direction, job searching/networking efforts are often more productive
and oral presentation/interviewing skills more effective.
The best way for any job-seekers today to best prepare themselves
for whatever follows is to understand the career planning process
and complete all the steps thoroughly. For example, when identifying
career options, do the necessary self-assessment, understand what
your preferred interests, skills, and values are and their relationship
to career possibilities. As you explore options concentrate on two
questions; what aspects of the career areas you're considering will
be more up-and-coming (and thus make you more employable) in the
future and how can you best maintain flexibility in how you can
fit into the world of work. Only good research (through written
and people resources) on your part will help you to find the answers
to these questions.
If someone were interested in the art field, for example, it may
be advisable to consider computer graphics with all the opportunities
the Internet seems to be offering. On the other hand, social workers
have great flexibility in the world of work because of the many
work settings that they can plug into (all educational settings
from elementary schools to universities, as well as hospitals, mental
health clinics, corporate employment assistance programs, HMO's,
private practices, nursing homes and more). In fact, it wouldn't
be unusual for a social worker to combine two or three of the options
mentioned on a part-time basis to equal a full-time job, especially
if full-time jobs were hard to come by. This kind of configuration
is what author William Bridges refers to as a composite career.
Currently, at least 25 percent of the workforce is contingent (part-time,
temporary, independent contractors, or consultants), and the numbers
are sure to increase in the future.
One needs to take charge of one's own career as if it was a business
(another idea espoused by Bridges) and not rely on others to insure
security in the hectic job market of today and into the future.
By building in career options that have favorable employment outlooks
and offer greater flexibility, job-seekers can better meet this.
Job-seekers should recognize that they have the power within them
to create their own good luck. You've heard the saying that luck
is "when preparedness meets opportunity," which may sound
a bit corny, but I believe it's true for life in general and especially
so when it comes to career matters.
If you have any doubt try this little exercise. Think of a recent
success/accomplishment (small or large) that was unexpected. Now
ask yourself: Did that success come about on its own or as a result
of some action that you took (though seemingly unrelated at the
time and perhaps one month to a year or more prior)? Did you choose
at some point to participate in some way rather than not to? Chances
are you probably just answered yes, you took some action, chose
to participate and experienced unexpected positive results at some
point thereafter. You created luck (perhaps when preparedness met
opportunity) for yourself.
This is a message I try to get across to my clients. Without taking
action chances are one can predict the results (usually not much).
Once you decide to take action, to participate wherever possible,
there's no predicting what might come about (often much). With this
posture toward life good fortune will come your way and perhaps
lead to your next career.
Copyright by Quintessential Careers. The original article can be
found at: http://www.quintcareers.com/career_planning_keys.html
Reprinted with permission.
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