By Lisa McGrimmon
Understanding how to make smart career choices is a life skill that everyone needs. The decisions you make about your career have a profound effect on every aspect of your life. The more good knowledge and resources you have to make informed decisions, the more control you’ll have over your career and your future.
Unfortunately, plenty of people believe that career choice is a one time event that happens naturally, without a lot of thought, some time in early adulthood when you’re about to leave high school or apply to post secondary programs. Smart career management actually happens across your lifetime, and we continue to make consequential career choices over the years.
Whether you are looking for a new job, aiming to take the next step in your current job, completely changing your career or planning your retirement options, you are making career choices, and using good resources and the guidance of a career counsellor can help you to make those decisions well.
So often when people find themselves at a career crossroads, the first thing they do is jump right in and create a new resume without putting any thought into what their next steps should be. Smart career management and job search is about so much more than writing a great resume. If you take the time to learn about, think though and act on the four main areas of career management, you will be rewarded throughout your career.
1. Understand Yourself
Your interests, abilities, values and personal needs and realities should all be taken into account in any career decision making process. You spend hours at work, and it impacts your life in many ways. It makes sense that you should be fully informed and aware of your personal needs, strengths and possible challenges before making such profound decisions.
2. Understand Your Options
Do you know how many different career choices are available to you? Both The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (American) and The National Occupational Classification (Canadian) list well over 20,000 different job titles. Unless you have actively explored a variety of career choices, there is a very good chance that there are great career options available to you, and you don’t even realize they exist.
3. Connect Your Information
Match your self knowledge with your understanding of the labor market and possible career options. Once you have developed a good understanding of yourself, you will be able to combine that self knowledge with your career and labor market research to determine potential career choices that are a great fit for your strengths, preferences and personal needs and goals.
4. Make it Happen
Finally, now is the time to start applying all of your job search strategies. You actually don’t get to the resume writing stage until step four. When you have made a well informed career choice, then you’re ready to make it happen. Making use of good career guidance and resources will help you to acquire the education, skills and experience needed to get the job and learn and implement effective job search strategies.
Avoid taking the “ready, fire, aim” approach to making career choices and job searching. Time spent understanding your needs, researching your career options and developing outstanding job search skills, guided by great career resources, is a powerful investment in your future.