Career Planning: What Is It?

Career Planning: What Is It?

You get serious about career planning when you set concrete goals for your work and career path and tackle their implementation in a structured way. But before you set such goals, you should ask yourself a few questions. It’s not just about which rung of the career ladder you want to be on in the medium and long term. It’s also about who you are, what you’re good at and what you enjoy.

When Is The Best Time To Start Career Planning?

Simple answer: always. But sometimes in your professional life are particularly appropriate for career planning. However, you should always be aware that a life and a career path cannot really be planned out 100%. “First, things happen differently, secondly, than you think.” Every project manager knows that a plan is just a plan and that every plan is wrong. The purpose of plans is to have an orientation. And every plan needs to be adjusted or tweaked at some point.

  • The first important time to plan your career is when you graduate from high school. After that, you set the course for your future. What kind of training or degree program do you want? What are your professional and personal inclinations? Should it be something social, something technical or something business administration? In this day and age, it is no longer a stigma to make a bad decision. Anyone can take a free shot.
  • The second important time to plan your career is after you have completed your training or studies. If you have several job offers, then you are again making a seminal decision with your choice of employer. Don’t just base your decision on the starting salary, but find out more about the company. What career opportunities are available there? Is the job profile in line with your own values, or do you see potential for conflict?
  • Unless you’ve already done a few internships beforehand, you’ll gain your first real work experience after your initial hire. You get a feel for work processes, the working atmosphere and can actually only now judge which aspects of professional life you like or dislike. Therefore, after the first year in your first job is probably the most important time to seriously pursue the topic of career planning.
    It is a bad time to start career planning if you have already spent half your working life muddling through more or less poorly and have never really been happy. The possibilities for change have then already become much more limited. But that doesn’t mean that you should stop planning your career under these circumstances. Being unhappy is not a good option either. But you should remain realistic in your career planning.

The Most Important Questions To Start Career Planning

If you are already in your professional life, and you have gained insights into different processes, then it will be easier for you to formulate concrete goals. You need to be clear about your wishes and values at the beginning of your career planning in order to derive goals from them. The following questions are important:
 

  • Which activity is meaningful to you and is fun for you? What can you imagine doing until you retire?
  • Are you aiming for a vertical (management) or horizontal (expert) career?
  • How important is salary to you?
  • What values do you represent? Do you find these values reflected in the company?

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Goal Definition In The Context Of Career Planning

From your desires, values, and answers to the starting career planning questions, you derive your goals. And at the same time, you identify gaps that you are missing to achieve your goals. The definition of goals includes:

  • a description of the desired job profile
  • a time frame, until when you would like to sit on exactly this job
  • an analysis of what skills and competencies you are still lacking
  • an action plan on how you can close these gaps
  • an idea about salary development

When setting goals, it’s important that you stay realistic. For one thing, you need to properly assess both your skills and your environment. Which adversities can occur, will you have competition or can you find a sponsor? If you can find an experienced mentor in the company who will give you constructive feedback, this will help you enormously in your career planning. You have to make sure that your self-perception is at least largely in line with the external perception of those around you. If the discrepancy is too large, your goals are unrealistic, and this is usually due to you and not the environment.

Is There A Need For Career Planning?

In principle, yes. Only those who are truly happy in their jobs can probably do without career planning. But for everyone else, it’s a key element in finding one’s own path and ultimately being able to follow it.

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