Importance of Early Career Planning
When we get to certain stages in life (be it the completion of high school, starting a new job, or the end of a work year), we begin to envisage and think about how we want the next 5 to 10 years of our lives to be. Making plans for our future become inevitable. How do I kick start my career? Where do I want to be in the nearest and farthest future? What can I do to ensure I have and make my career burgeon? What resources do I need to remain relevant in my chosen or proposed career? These are questions that suffice when the process of career planning comes to mind.
However, the timing of career planning matters a lot. The saying “make hay while the sun shines” cannot be overemphasized; arguably, individuals or employees who initiate career planning early tend to achieve greater success compared to those who start late. While no age is ever too late to start making progress toward the career of your dreams, it is recommended to start today instead of tomorrow. Planning your career early enough comes with added personal and professional advantages; ranging from preparing you for challenges ahead to giving you an array of much-needed experience. Also, early career planning exposes you to a wealth of technological and human resources, needed for sustainable growth, advancement, and progression in your chosen career or field.
Starting a new career and planning out your future can be a fun and exciting time in your life. Even if you are beginning a new career path after spending years in a particular field, the excitement should still resonate. Although the process seems daunting, going through some steps will be of help to you. Since time works in your favor, don’t put things off; set aside some time out of your tight schedule and initiate career planning. Additionally, decide where you want to go in your career, and figure out the necessary steps you need to fill the blanks and get there. Therefore, this article will discuss the concept of career planning, as well as make individuals see the importance of planning careers early.
What is Career Planning?
The process of career planning involves the selection of career goals by individuals and the paths, steps, or stages to the attainment of such goals. In other words, the process occurs when you clearly select or choose specific goals essential for your career; and map out a path for short and long-term success in the career. In addition, career planning forms a crucial phase in the work endeavor and human resource development; it enables workers and individuals to come up with strategies to have a meaningful work-life balance. Similarly, the art of career planning provides a platform and opportunity for information gathering, which in turn encourages and enables individuals and employees to make decisions, set goals, synthesize, gain competencies, and take actions. When executed thoroughly, career planning leads to self-improvement and overall success.
Elements of Early Career Planning
Early career planning has some distinct features and characteristics, amongst which are;
Self-assessment: This involves a thorough analysis of strengths, expertise, ability, knowledge, passion, and preferences by individuals who want to start a new career or switch careers.
Opportunity analysis: Here, individuals dissect and determine the opportunities and roles that fit within their interests, abilities, and chosen career paths respectively.
Goal setting: This is arguably the most important of all elements. Goal setting involves breaking down all that is needed to achieve long and short-term success, in a particular career into steps and stages.
Strategies and action plan for implementation: This involves developing a plan of action to achieve, attain and accomplish set goals. Preferably, it should come with a schedule and deadlines.
Why is Early Career Planning Important?
When you plan your career early, you have a detailed path for your personal and professional future. Enumerated below are the benefits of early career planning;
- Identification of Interests
- Provides career goals and paths
- Development of competencies
- Stimulates creativity and provides Motivation
- It helps in the choice of career
- Saves cost and ensures financial stability
- Attainment of peace of mind
Identification of interests: Interests are things or activities an individual enjoys doing; they are those events and kinds of stuff you love doing. Your interests also include whatever you don’t have second thoughts about; regardless of the time or place, you feel satisfied and fulfilled doing them. Planning your career early enables you to unearth and understand your interests, it also makes you know things you really don’t enjoy doing. Identifying your interest early has lots of pros and advantages; discovering what you are really good at and enjoy doing helps you focus on mapping out a long career in a field of your choice. Also, employees and businesses can identify interesting niches for success when they pursue career planning early.
Provide career goals and paths: Provision of career goals and paths is another importance of early career planning. Goals are essential components of every successful career. When you plan your career early, you are able to discover goals to be achieved on time. Also, it enables you to decide on a path for your career; it is easy to get confused when trying to set goals and choose a career path, especially when you have a lot on your plate. You may become too occupied with work and other personal engagements; hence, the need to start early. Thus, early career planning provides employees and workers with clear future directions in terms of their career(s).
Development of competencies: Competence simply means the ability to do something efficiently or successfully. Competency is an important skill that is needed to do a job. Early career planning stimulates and encourages an individual to develop competencies and capabilities for higher-level jobs. In addition, these competencies can be conceptual, technical, or interpersonal. Planning your career early enhances your ability to get used to and/or adjust to concepts, and new techniques at work or in your career. Similarly, you easily adapt and develop interpersonal skills needed for teamwork and partnership when you plan your career early.
Stimulates creativity and provides motivation: Creativity and motivation are needed for long and short-term success in every endeavor. For your career, the aforementioned form two of the most essential ingredients for progress, growth, and development. Simply put, you cannot do without being creative and motivated. The process of early career planning increases workers’ creativity and promotes innovation within and outside the organization.
Similarly, individuals who plan their careers early have the advantage of being motivated for higher performance. An upward movement in your career is dependent on the quality and quantity of your performance.
It helps in the choice of career: The process of early career planning involves the identification of strengths and research on fields that one can excel and succeed in. Once you’ve come to terms with and identified your interests and strengths, you can look for suitable opportunities in the field of your choice. For example; an individual with an interest, skills, and abilities in technology or IT can make a career choice and venture into digital services such as software development or data science. In contrast, a lack of early career planning might get you confused when you want to decide on a career to pursue.
Saves cost and ensures financial stability: When you plan your career well and early, you also take into account future uncertainties, potential job losses, or any other unforeseen scenarios that could impact your earning potential. Planning your career early can also help you mitigate the financial risks and uncertainties to the barest minimum.
Attainment of peace of mind: One of the lesser-known and emphasized importance of early career planning is that it enables individuals to attain peace of mind, especially in stressful situations. The menace of unemployment invariably leads to stress, uncertainty, and the feeling of low self-worth.
However, if you plan your career smartly and early, you would be keeping an eye on the job trends, which in turn can eliminate the possibilities of financial hardship or lack of opportunities. Early career planning enables you to stay in sync with emerging technologies, market demands, and new innovations or concepts. This will give you peace of mind knowing you have everything almost covered.
The benefits of early career planning are enormous; it enables you to gain much-needed experience and expertise, whilst preparing you for success in your chosen field. Also, you have opportunities to broaden your network and professional connections when you plan your career early. Therefore, refrain from being lazy; don’t get too busy and discouraged from planning your career. Start now, not tomorrow, and reap the benefits that accompany it.