The days when most people stayed in one occupation for a lifetime are gone. In today’s ever-changing labour market, it’s more realistic to think of your career as a series of jobs and workpaths.
Your values and priorities change throughout your lifetime. Think about what was important to you five, ten years ago. How have your priorities changed? In what ways do you think they might change again in the future (e.g. when you have children or when your children leave home)?
The world of work changes too. Rapid technological advances, economic changes and the shift toward a service-based economy will continue to eliminate some jobs and create new ones.
These days, you are unlikely to find a single occupation what will remain unchanged and continue to satisfy all of your changing priorities until you retire. Be flexible.
Career planning is a lifelong process of matching your current and foreseeable needs and priorities with the options available to you, and re-evaluating your plans as necessary.
This does not mean that you have to start over every few years. Everything builds on what came before:
- In every job you hold, you develop transferable skills as well as the particular skills necessary for that job. When you move to another job, look for a position that allows you to use the skills you enjoy, and develop new ones.
- Hobbies and club activities can lead to related jobs. Likewise, salaried positions can lead to self-employment.
- Experience as a volunteer allows you to develop skills that you can apply to paid employment later.
Make it a habit to notice social, economic and technological changes that may influence your work in the future. Keep in touch with your feelings about your work. If it becomes obvious that your job will disappear or you are getting bored, plan to move on before you have to. Don’t get caught in a dead end!
Use the following four career planning steps to make each career decision as you encounter it. The same steps work for all kinds of career-related decisions and at all stages of your career, whether you are choosing a new occupation, job hunting, going back to school, or planning your retirement.