What is a Career?

The concept of career has changed over the last 20 or 30 years. Whereas a career used to be a job for life, this is rarely the case anymore. It is no longer the situation that a person is employed in one or a series of jobs with one employer and then comfortably retires at 65.

People now, on average, change their jobs or careers at least 7 times over the course of their life. In addition, there is no guarantee of retiring at 65 and many people are working well into their 70’s and 80’s.

The impact of the recession, changing technology, globalisation, competition, mergers, stress, increasing change and the pace of life has changed the traditional career.

According to ‘Wikipedia’, a career is classed by the Oxford English Dictionary as an individual’s “course or progress through life (or a distinct portion of life)”. It is a series of successive situations or activities that make up a person’s occupation.

A career may be focused around progression in a job or a series of roles, or a process of parallel career changes in the search for greater income and personal satisfaction.

A career is made up of a process of continuous learning and personal and professional development. This enables a person to keep up with changes within the workplace and be competitive when seeking a new job.

A career is often made up of activities outside of the traditional paid working environment. These may include voluntary or charity work or working within the community, such as helping out in sporting clubs. In addition, the skills required in a career can come from other activities such as running a home and raising children or looking after elderly relatives.

A career may be made up of a variety of different roles, commonly known as a portfolio career, where a person carries out a range of different jobs often including self employment and working with different organisations to make a living.

A career is no longer just for people who work full time. Many people, and not just women with children, are seeking increased flexibility, more effective work/life balance and part-time working to have a career that works for them. Also people are driven by different things at different stages of their career, such as when they face a life changing event. It is not unusual to take a career break or change roles to fulfil important values at different times during their lives.

Despite the current economic climate, more and more people are seeking self employment as their values no longer meet the values of their organisation or they want greater fulfilment and personal satisfaction. In 2006, 12% of the UK’s working population were self employed with predictions that this could swell by up to 10 million people by 2011.

What is the implication of the changing nature of a career?

For many people, the implication is that there is no longer a career for life, so people need to be flexible in their response to change, whether this is due to redundancy, restructuring or finding a better way to make an income. On the other hand, as there are thousands of career options available today, there is increasing choice, but this can often feel overwhelming as well.

Many people are also finding their is a values shift between their personal values and the changing culture within their organisation. It is when this is out of alignment that many people seek out new employment or a new start to change the focus of their career.

To be successful, workers need to start to focus on their strengths and their skills to develop a plan for their future. In addition, they need to know what else is important in their life to make sure that their choices and decisions are congruent with other parts of their life.

Career Planning Tips – Free Tips For Effective Career Development

Career planning involves planning your career path ahead and determining in advance the career development things you need to do to get to your desired career destination.

The first step to effective career planning is to ask yourself what you want to be in life. What career do you want to pursue?

Want to be a medical doctor, pharmacist, engineer, or lawyer?

Career development along these professional disciplines is often straightforward. For example if your intended career path is to become a lawyer, you know you have to have a bachelors degree in law and thereafter attend law school.

However, career planning and career development go way beyond what you studied in school or the discipline where you majored during your university years. Career planning is way bigger than that.

Career development when properly planned involves taking your destiny in your own hands, deciding what makes you happy, and then structuring all your training and career efforts in the direction of your chosen career path.

For example, suppose you have a bachelors degree in economics and now have a job. Ask yourself, “Why did I study economics?”

Generally, there are one of three reasons why people study a particular discipline in college or university.

1. They may be very passionate about the course or

2. They may have studied the course because that is what mom and dad wanted or

3. They may have studied the course because they could not get admission to study their preferred course

The good news is… you can shape or re-shape your career path irrespective of the reasons that led you to your current profession.

For example, some category 1 people… people who were passionate about their profession as teenagers… may lose their passion for the profession as they grow older and face the reality of day-to-day life. This loss of passion may also result from the pressures from family demands and the peculiar
challenges associated with the profession in practice.

Category 2 professionals, mentioned above, are likely to go after their heart’s first love when they are no longer under the control of mom and dad.

Category 3 professionals are also likely to go after their first love after their first degree.

For example, I know people who are passionate about accountng. However, they could not make the score for the accounting department during their pre-university days. Some of them eventually went for courses like economics, sociology, statistics, and similar social science courses.

What happened after leaving school?

A good number of them went back to register with the professinal accounting body and now have professional certificate in accounting. In simple words… they are now chartered accountants.

Bottom line.

The course you studied in the teenage years in school need not hold you captive for the rest of your life if you have lost passion for it.

I recommend you get involved with a profession you love. If you missed your way when you were young, you can always retrace your professional steps no matter where you are currently or how old you are.

Now with that background, let’s get back to the real question.

What career planning strategy can you use to plan your career path? What practical career development strategy can you put to use right now?

Do the following to move your career in the direction you want.

1. Determine where you are right now in your career

2. Determine and document where you want to be

3. Draw an outline of the skills you need to get there

4. Kick-start the process of acquiring skills you need that you don’t already have

5. Discuss your career plan with your wife and then your boss

6. Ask to be given assignments that move you more and more in the direction of your career

7. Get involved in community work (where possible) that offers you an opportunity to function in the position you expect to be

8. Let nothing stop you from making that noble career a reality

So Many Career Choices – How Do You Decide Which Career is For You?

You’re not satisfied with your current career. You’ve done some research, and there seem to be so many exciting possibilities! How do you decide what is right for you? Here are five important factors to consider when choosing a new career.

1. Your Interests

When deciding on a new career path, one of the most important considerations is knowing what you like to do. Your career should reflect your interests. Many people just like you find themselves in jobs that are boring or do not relate to their passion. With the right training, you could leave that dull job behind and get started on a career that you love. After all, if you have to work nine-to-five every day, why not spend the time at a job that is rewarding?

2. Your Lifestyle

Different careers require different time commitments. For example, long-haul truckers must spend days away from home, and are often alone. Cosmetologists work closely with the public, and interact with their clients. Graphic artists often work from home and have flexible hours. The career that you choose should fit your lifestyle. You may want to consider your family commitments, whether or not you enjoy travel, or if you want to work directly with the public or behind the scenes.

3. The Skills Needed For Your Chosen Career

Having a passion for a certain career is one thing… being qualified is another. You may be working in the job you have now simply because you had the skills the employer wanted-but the job has nothing to do with your personal interests! Be honest. Do you really love your job? If not, then you should consider getting trained for the career that you’re passionate about. There’s no reason to spend year after year in a dead-end job that doesn’t interest you when there are many opportunities to get career training.

4. The Job Market

The fact is, in today’s global economy certain careers are growing quickly and others aren’t. This doesn’t mean that you should choose a career only by its expected growth-but you improve your odds of getting hired when you’re trained in a career field that’s growing. Education-For-Careers uses the very latest U. S. Government Department of Labor statistics to bring you the inside scoop on which careers are hot. Check out the numbers and see which growing career best fits your career passion!

5. Expected Earnings

Money isn’t everything… but it’s very high on the list! Some people are happy with low incomes (think starving artist), but most of us want a good paycheck that gets bigger every year. Some careers pay more than others, and the pay rate often depends upon the level of training. According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Digest of Education Statistics 2005, a person with an associate degree can expect to earn nearly 25% more than someone with a high school diploma alone. A person with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn nearly 60% more than someone with a high school diploma or GED. That’s real money!

How to Identify the Career You Want in 5 Easy Steps

Some people may identify their careers when they are very young. At eight years of age, they may decide that they want to have occupations just like their parents or they may decide to enter different professions. Others may discover their career ambitions while they are attending high school or at some point later in their lives. Even though people may select careers to work in, it is important to realize that they can change to other professions at any time. Although many individuals may feel as though they are locked into their careers for financial or other reasons, they should take a moment to assess their situations and determine if other career opportunities are more ideal for them. When they look through their lenses, they may discover the freedom to select new, more appealing careers – careers that may even be dramatically different from their initial choices.

My own career changed in a remarkable fashion. Even though I knew that I wanted to be a veterinarian since I was thirteen years old, I decided to transition to a career that assists people instead of animals. After sixteen years of practicing veterinary medicine, I made the radical decision to lay my stethoscope down and accept a unique opportunity working for the Chairman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I became a senior executive for that organization and had many job responsibilities. Despite the numerous day-to-day job duties that I had, I found time to coach many of the company’s employees and other people employed at various institutions. During this period I discovered that I loved supporting people during their pursuit of career success. My passion to help others led me to establish my own business and motivate others to experience the bliss of pursuing their own career dreams.

You can also determine the career that is ideal for you. Take some time to consider your responses to these questions.

o What would you enjoy doing even if you did not get paid to do it?
o What occupation could you do every single day and not grow tired of doing it?
o When you picture yourself in that profession, does a huge grin suddenly appear on your face?

After you spend sufficient time reflecting on the questions above, proceed to the five steps below. These steps will help you identify your ideal career.

1. List the careers that appeal to you. If you can not think of any, write down what you really enjoy doing and list the careers that are associated with these activities.

2. Obtain substantial information about each of the careers on your list so that you have a reasonable understanding of what the career entails. You can obtain data on the careers by searching on line or reading books that describe the careers you selected.

3. After conducting your research, return to your list and eliminate the careers that you are no longer interested in based on the information you gathered. Now you can focus on the careers that you are still interested in.

4. Take your abbreviated list and speak to people employed in those professions. During your conversations with them you can ask additional questions that were not answered when you conducted your research. These discussions will provide great opportunities to get their personal perspectives on the careers. You can speak to these individuals on the telephone, however meeting with them face-to-face allows for a more personal exchange (having coffee or tea together is a great way to have a nice discussion). When you schedule your meetings, be careful not to develop intimidating thoughts about speaking with them. Just remember, they began their careers using the same process and will be extremely flattered that you want to discuss what they know best – their very own professions!

5. Continue to re-evaluate and refine your list until you gather sufficient data to determine which career is right for you.

The more you learn about your career of interest, the more you increase the probability of knowing whether you truly want to pursue it. As a result, you will significantly decrease the time or money that may be wasted training in a discipline that you do not want to have as your career.

Dealing With the Most Important New Career Risk

Making the decision to pursue a new career can be one of the most challenging and exciting times in a person’s life. You look forward to the possibility of doing something you have always wanted to do, fulfilling your personal vision, benefiting others, increasing your income, or any combination of these or other benefits. You may be looking to start your own business, move into a new field that has always interested you, or go back to school to get the training needed to allow you to leverage your expertise to teach.

Is making the new career decision enough?

By the time you have made the decision to pursue a new career you likely have done the hard work to carefully think through your decision (If not or to confirm your choice, see the link below). You have spent weeks, months, or maybe years, dealing with the up and down emotions associated with making this type of life change. You have sought career guidance from friends and family, and possibly paid for professional advice. The plan is ready. Time to execute. You are ready to go.

Have you addressed the most important new career risk?

The most likely source of failure in realizing your new career is having insufficient resources to survive until your new career can pay the bills. Let’s face it, as a minimum we all need food, shelter, and clothing to sustain our physical needs. How long do you expect your transition take? Even if you planned to go a year without income, what happens if you get sick and cannot work for 3 weeks, or worse? Will you have the resources to bridge the additional gap? Do you need health insurance to cover unplanned medical expenses?

Are you starting a new business? When does your business plan show you breaking even? If it takes two years to be profitable instead of one, do you have access to funding to stay in business while addressing the shortfall in revenue? Like a business that runs out of cash, failing to mitigate this risk opens you up to personal bankruptcy, or worse.

Are there better times to take on the new career risk?

During college, I learned to stretch the income I made over the summer to address my needs for the entire year. I look back and am amazed at how little I managed to live on. This certainly suggests that it should be easier to change your career when you have few obligations and have not gotten used to a more expensive lifestyle.

If you want to mitigate the risk of insufficient resources in transitioning to your new career, make changes in your lifestyle before you execute on your decision. Determine your minimum needs and try living on your minimum budget before starting your transition. This will enable you to establish how long you can likely stretch your available resources.

Have you just lost your job or experienced a major reorganization at work? Believe it or not, this may also be an ideal time to start working a new career transition. Severance benefits from a job loss can provide the additional financial resources necessary to provide the time needed to move into a new career or launch that new business. In addition, it is not uncommon for training and education resources to be provided that could reduce what you need to spend on required education for your new occupation.

Are you able to retire?

If you have established that you can afford to retire, you have already determined that you have the resources to survive, and hopefully more. This puts you in the position to have already mitigated this risk, as long as any new career investment does not substantially change your resource situation. It comes as no surprise that this is a great time to transition to a new career as your resources will allow you work on your new career until you succeed or ascertain that the new career was not what you hoped it would be.

Mitigate this risk to free yourself to focus on your new career

If you are midway through your working career and have responsibilities for other family members, this risk certainly will be a major factor that you should address prior to executing your career transition. With a well thought mitigation plan, you can be confident that you will have the resources needed to address the needs of you and those that depend on you, allowing you to focus on building your new career. Do not let this risk be the item that causes you to prematurely quit on the career of your dreams.