Career Planning - Definition, Importance, Process & Example

Published in Human Resources Terms by MBA Skool Team

What is Career Planning?

Career planning is the continuous self-evaluation and planning process done by a person to have a strong career path which is aligned with one's career goals, aspirations and skills. Career planning process in the continuous reiterative process of understanding oneself, setting career goals, revising skills and searching for the right career options which may include basic skills, specialized education and job options.

A person may need to start this planning process from scratch every few years based on the market trends or demand and also on the based of the outcome of the current plan. The career planning should be overall aligned to a goal or objective for a career path as it is a continuous process over a long period of time and would require not only joining a job/occupation but also acquisition of basic as well as special skills to do those job(s). For example a person trying to make a career in information technology may require skills like languages, programming whereas a person looking to have a career goal in marketing may first need a specialized degree in business or more specifically marketing.

Importance of Career Planning

Career planning is a step-wise process which enables an individual to focus on where to want to be in life professionally. With the short-term goal and the long-term goals in place, It can help to plan their journey in their professional life. Self-assessment is necessary to understand one’s capabilities and drawbacks. The various career options should be explored in detail to find a fit between one’s abilities and the opportunities provided by a career option. It involves continuous learning and improvement to build and growth in the chosen career path. A good career planning helps a person grow in life in their professional career, which also help them grow personally.

If there is no career planning, then the career of an individual would be controlled by external factors and circumstances. Based on decisions and evaluation done by others, the person would go forward in the career. It may lead to a desirable career path but it can also lead to a job profile which was not at all part of individual's aspiration or career goals.

A great career plan early can lead to better planning of skills and education required to achieve career goals. A career is a long term view of the skills, education and jobs a person would acquire or do in order to reach a particular objective. A job may or may not align with one's career objective if proper career planning is not done. A job may be directly opposite to one's path because the required skills or educational qualifications may be missing due to the lack of a initial plan. The importance of career planning is in starting early, acquiring the right skills and then applying the same for a particular job or a series of jobs to achieve long term career goals. But one can re-plan career later as well if the current occupation doesn't align with the goals or if goals have changed. Sometimes the market demand and business requirements may also require one to re-plan one's career and acquire new skills. Reskilling should be an active part of career planning. Sometimes career planning is seen as a short term exercise based on immediate job requirements but it should be a more long term view of the career rather than one or two jobs. 

Career Planning Process

Career Planning Process

Career planning process is an important aspect for an individual’s career development. Some of the basic steps in a career planning process are:

1. Self-Assessment

The first step in the process is self-assessment to be done by the individual to understand his or her skills, areas of interest, aspirations etc.

Aspirations and goals are very important here as that would define how person would create future plan.

2. Research on Careers and Opportunities

The second step in the process is to understand the career options, companies available, growth options in career etc. which are aligned with the self-assessment done already. 

Right opportunities need to identified and proper research is required for that. An individual needs to be aware of the market trends and growth areas.

3. Set Career Objectives

The next step in the career planning is to set short-term as well as long-term career goals for oneself, and to have a clear career path. These can be defined as the immediate goals and how one looks at the career further down the line. A plan has to be according to clear objectives.

4. Learn & Improve Skills

The fourth step in the process is to keep acquiring new skills and knowledge to be in line with career objectives and with industry requirements. Many a times there can be clear gaps in the objectives, aspirations and skills. To fill those gaps, proper planning is required to acquire and learn those skills so that career plan can be properly executed. 

5. Preparation of CV/Resume

The next step in the planning process is to be fully prepared in terms of CV, cover letter, recommendations etc. The resume should clearly highlight the skills, qualifications, objectives which is aligned with the career planning of an individual

6. Job/Work Search

The sixth step is to short-list the companies where an individual is seeking a job & start applying. It can be also working a entrepreneurship project as well. 

7. Revise Career Goals

The last step in the career planning process is to continuously evaluate the career goals and again do a self-assessment to build a strong career path.

Career Planning Example

Let us take an example of an engineer AJ who has recently graduated and is interested in robotics. to start the planning, AJ has to first assess what kind of robotics he is interested in and what is his skill level. After that, he needs to set the objectives with time box approach on how he wants to grow in his robotics career. If there are gaps, he needs to take trainings and courses to reduce the gaps and search for jobs may be in manufacturing and automotive sector where robotics are natural fit.

If successful in securing suitable job, career planning can be more precise based on the hands on experience in the field and then the goals and objective can be defined for new career trajectory.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Career Planning along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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