Career Planning can turn out to be a critical factor in determining how your life story pans out. Just take this into perspective: assuming you start your first full-time job at 25 and retire officially at age 60. So, you will spend at least 35 years building and maintaining your career.
Given the importance of your career, we must take a systematic approach towards planning it. The ideas shared in this article will be applicable in most scenarios. However, since one’s context plays a crucial role in such decisions, a Bangladeshi perspective will be present.
One of the first steps in Career Planning is finding out where you want to find yourself in 5 or 10 or 15 years from now. Once done, you need to start aligning your education, training, and job choices with your values, capabilities, and ultimate purpose in life.
Before moving on to some career planning steps, it is worth mentioning that having a vision and a plan is essential. It is equally important to be pragmatic and circumspect at each point or milestone in your career. Assess your career periodically and take stock so that you can make necessary changes to that plan in light of your concurrent reality.
Steps or Factors in Career Planning
It is not an exhaustive list, and neither are these necessarily chronological or mutually exclusive. But these are some things we should keep in mind while planning our careers:
As we grow up and gather various learnings and experiences, our values take shape to the point where we hold them very dear to ourselves. Our actions and decisions are then subconsciously impacted by these values. Any activity not agreeing to these values leads to dissatisfaction or, in worse cases, depression. If freedom and spontaneity are core values to you, doing a job just because it pays well will eventually land you in a dissatisfied place. The rest of your career, and by impact, the rest of your life might feel like you are caged. It is equally important, to be honest with yourself and to be accepting of the fact that some values may change over time.
On a side note, earning lots of money can also be a value for some.
Job and Market Research
Once you have identified the values and aspirations that you hold dearly, start finding out about the jobs, roles, firms, and industries that may suit your aspirations. The work environment and culture might be homogenous across sectors or vary between firms or departments. Gather genuine information about the pay as well.
Online information and resources might not necessarily be accurate, but they can be a starting point. Do not hesitate to reach out to people in your network who are presently or were previously in the industries, companies, or roles of your interest. Your university career or placement office can be of great help here, and make sure to make the most of LinkedIn.
Once you have gathered the necessary information, have narrowed down your list of jobs, seek out opportunities, and apply for positions that match your aspirations and qualifications. If necessary, take professional assistance in the application process.
Career Moves and Persistence
As often said, “reaching the top is easy; staying there is tough.” Getting a job or starting a career is one thing and consolidating the profession is another. The importance of consolidating one’s career could not be more pertinent than in these times of Covid-19. A common theme amongst many professionals in Bangladesh is an urge to earn promotions in a short time. Often professionals may get restless to get that new promotion or hop jobs in search of a little more cash. Such an approach hampers learning on the job and getting ready for the following role by thinking long-term.
It has already been pointed out that finding a career or job that aligns with long-term plans is essential. Once you accept a job or role, you should commit at least the time required to build your field or skill expertise. Besides, except for some top-level roles like CEOs, Directors, etc., it is often challenging in Bangladesh to switch careers. So, pursuing excellence in your skills and focusing on your current career trajectory within the company or industry should be your top priorities. Once you start striving for excellence in your jobs and careers; money, promotions, and placements will follow.