As individuals change their career five to seven times in their lifetime, change jobs, and transition from one life stage to another, we undergo a personal career journey. During the journey, we search for meaning and fulfilment in our work and career to integrate into our life.
The career journey consists of four phases:
- exploration of the labour market and jobs of interest
- making decisions, and
- taking actions to attain our next step.
Below are the steps, and considerations at each stage.
Step 1 – Self awareness
Self-understanding is the basis from which you make your career decisions. You are looking at yourself; reviewing your present situation and planning for the future. You are reflecting on what you want out of your career and your job. It is a time of deep contemplation as you consider important and honest questions to commence your career journey. These questions include:
- Who am I?
- What are my strengths? My weaknesses? How can these be overcome?
- Where am I now?
- Where would I like to be?
- What are my interests?
- What are my skills?
- What is important to me?
During this stage, you gain valuable information about yourself to set the foundation for your actions and decisions.
Step 2 – Career exploration
You are now ready to research careers, occupations and jobs that are of interest, in order to put together a preferred shortlist. Ask yourself:
“Where am I going?”
For each job, note the specific skills and qualifications that are required to work in the field. The exploration will provide you with a realistic list from which you can assess your skills. At this stage, keep your options broad to enable you to look at the ‘big picture.’ At a later stage, the options will be reduced.
As you answer the question, use your understanding of your skill set from stage one to evaluate how your skills match the occupations of interest. That is, review your skills against the jobs that you are seeking. Where a skills gap exists – the gap between the job that you are seeking and your current skill level, consider how the gap can be addressed and reduced by attaining the required skills or training.
You may need to consider: studying to attain qualifications, obtaining work experience, work shadowing, undertaking voluntary work, or working at a lower level to gain professional experience with the view to a promotion to work at a higher level. Where skills are transferable from one job or context such as your studies, hobbies, voluntary or community work, highlight your skills and experience.
Exploration also involves reviewing the labour market to assess the job availability of particular jobs. Some jobs are harder to find employment in than others. These include: Financial Advisors, Accountants and Auditors, Sales Managers or Human Resource Managers. Consider the labour market as a guide to attain work, but importantly, follow your passion in an area that meets your interests and skills.
Step 3 – Decision making
From the list of occupations and jobs that you have devised in step two, narrow your options to create a specific list. Your preferred list may be based on considerations of your interests, skills, size of the skills gap, job availability, personal responsibility, and work/life balance. Ask yourself:
“What decision will provide me with the career outcomes that meet my goals and current situation?”
Weigh the advantage and disadvantage of each option for both the short and long term. This will enable you to review your situation in perspective, and design a strategy to work towards attaining your career goal.
Step 4 – Action
The culmination of the planning that you have undertaken in steps one to three position you to take action. For many, this will entail a job application. Ask yourself the questions:
- How am I going to get there?
- What actions will help me to achieve my work and career goals?
The action that you take will involve a range of strategies to access jobs and contact with an employer. The job application process will involve writing or updating a professional resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and interview preparation.
Consider both your internal and external resources available to support you. Your inner resources include: your personality attributes such as resilience, persistence, hard work, goal orientation, and the external resources are your network and people that can assist you.
Once you complete the four step process, you gain self-knowledge, understand the labour market, select a preferred option, and strategise your actions. Keep an eye on the future to strengthen your position with ongoing learning and development to stay current. Ask yourself:
“How do I maintain peak performance?”
Best wishes for your career journey! Please share any additional ideas you may have below in ‘Comments.’
Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, and has extensive experience in career development, life coaching, education and training.
Leah is the author of two books in careers and business communication, a former freelance writer for The Age and Herald Sun, and publisher of two accredited online short courses, Mentoring and Development and Foundations in Career Development Practice.
Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA), a Certified Retirement Coach and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.