Career planning

Deciding on a particular career path can be a daunting experience. Career planning is all about organising your career ideas to make them achievable.

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Where to start? This is often the biggest question. Some people know exactly what they want to do from an early age. Others haven’t got a clue; which is okay, but make sure that you do not leave planning until your final year.

Career Planning Stages

There are three important stages when it comes to planning and developing your career effectively:

  1. Make decisions – career planning starts with you! Before you make any big decisions, it is important to (i) gather information about yourself and (ii) gather information about the opportunities available to you. Knowing yourself, your motivations and what skills you have to offer employers is an important step in the career planning process. This is all about being self-aware
  2. Make plans – the next stage involves you being more proactive, taking practical steps and making plans. A ‘plan’ isn’t necessarily something set in stone, but more like a flexible guide to help you navigate through life. It is likely to change and adapt as you encounter new experiences, people and environments
  3. A career action plan – enables you to focus your thoughts and ideas into a series of steps to achieve your career objectives within a realistic timescale. The process takes into account the fact that situations change and plans can be reviewed and altered
  4. Take action -the final piece of the career planning jigsaw is to take further action and essentially ‘compete’. This may involve applying for jobs, gaining work experience, undertaking voluntary work, studying or working abroad, or taking part in an extra-curricular award. Every time you apply for any position you are developing your application skills and your ability to compete for jobs and opportunities

Taking action is often easier said than done, so do not give up. Obstacles to taking action do appear and life is often unpredictable. Even though you might have come up with a detailed and thoughtfully constructed career plan, your career goals can change for many reasons – circumstances change or unexpected opportunities arise seemingly out of nowhere. Still, having a career plan can provide a road map that guides your actions and keeps you moving forward, while you keep your eyes and ears open to opportunities.

For more detailed information, read our Careers Service Guide on career planning which can be found by clicking on the yellow button above. This guide will help you to understand each stage of the career planning process and provides a list of useful resources.

Remember, you can call in to the Careers Service at any stage of your university life to discuss your career plans.