Planning your career

Career planning is an important and useful activity, whether you're looking for a job, changing jobs, or just trying to figure out what to do next. If you don't take the time to plan your career, you'll have to be satisfied with whatever chance brings your way. If you invest time in career planning, you'll still have chance events to deal with—both good and bad—but you'll have the benefit of a road map to guide you if you get off track.

Follow these tips to develop your career plan and make it happen.

Know yourself
Objectively list your strengths and weaknesses as well as your likes and dislikes.
Know your career vision
Explore your current vision of what you see yourself doing in both the near and long-term future.
Do your homework
Research industry types, other companies, or other positions within your current company.
Explore all your options
Look carefully at all the alternatives and weigh the options best for you.
Use your contacts
Talk to your references, college alumni, mentors, management, and professional contacts.
Look for opportunities
Learn how to recognize new opportunities quickly and how to evaluate them against your career vision.
Prepare yourself
Take courses and do home study to prepare yourself to match your career vision's requirements.
Enjoy your career
Much of career happiness comes from enjoying the day-to-day activities. Focus on your accomplishments, and don’t dwell on set-backs.
Adapt to changes
Prepare as best you can for the unexpected, and learn how to adapt to changes both external and internal.
Include your family
Discuss your plans with your family, particularly if they are directly affected by a relocation or an increase in travel.
Separate curiosity from interests
Explore your real interests, but learn to separate out the things that you are merely curious about.
Utilize quiet time
Do your career planning and soul searching under the best conditions, when you are away from distractions (like during vacations).
Pursue your interests
Interview regularly for information and pursue your interests. Talk to people whose career is similar to your vision.
Everyone may be a consultant
Learn your chosen profession well, in order to be a consultant (whether external or internal). This is particularly important for industrial engineers.
Have no regrets
Enjoy your career as it unfolds, with no regrets.

See Planning your career.