As a Career Coach, it is not uncommon for me to receive queries from people yearning for answers and guidance on how best to find a path to achieving career actions. These career actions vary from job search, career choice, education decisions, career transition, life purpose or a search for meaningful work to interview preparation. My responses are guided by six main entry points, namely, self-knowledge, career research and options, future-thinking focused on the future of work informed by digital and career trends, wellness and health integration in work, decision-making and action plans, plus career management tactics.
These entry points are the six steps of what has become known to me as the EC Career Planning Model. The model is the basis of my engagement and support to coachees as they work towards lifelong career development and finding meaningful work. It also informs the learning design and facilitation of the free career services initiative I am facilitating via my social media spaces, with Twitter as the main anchor. The EC Career Development and Wellness Program is free and part of my annual gift of time and skills as a social contribution to others.
The purpose of this blog is to share the EC Career Planning Model, its 6 steps and some key considerations under each of the steps. It is also provided as a practical tool to raise your awareness of what is critical in informing any career decision and action. It presents a menu of choices and different entry points depending on your needs, as it is not linear, but a continuous cycle of actions in line with the lifelong career development approach.
What is a Career Planning Model?
To proactively develop and manage your career, you have to recognize that this is a lifelong process. The overall umbrella term you need to be familiar with is Career Development. This is the mechanism you use to navigate and manage your learning, work and life transitions that we all go through. You implement this mechanism through career management, career strategy, career planning and the use of various career management tactics. To learn more about these key career concepts, read my blog here.
In this blog we focus on career planning and this is defined as follows: “Career planning is a practical way to manage the ongoing changes in your life and work. It helps you build on what you already have and think realistically about your priorities.” [source] The “practical way” mentioned in the definition pertains to the steps you need to follow for you to get the best outcome in line with your career goals.
It is also important to share the definition of what is a model and its importance in your career development. “A model of a system or process is a theoretical description that can help you understand how the system or process works or might work.” [source] It is also an intentional representation of reality. “It is a representation of a system, made of the composition of concepts used to help people know, understand and simulate the subject represented. It helps you understand how the process works.” [source] I hope the EC Career Planning Model’s 6 Steps will help you know, understand and be supported to make good career decisions and take actions that give you results you seek.
What are the 6-Steps in the EC Career Planning Model?
Career planning has 4 common steps, but I have added 2 others to make a 6-step model (these are steps 3 and 4) because of their importance today and in the future. These are, “future thinking” and “work-life integration”. These 6 steps are the foundation of most career decisions, plans and actions: The 6 steps are outlined in detail below.
STEP 1: Self-knowledge – Assessments and Reflections aimed at Knowing Yourself
Step 1: Self-Knowledge, is the foundation stage for making career decisions and taking any actions that are aligned to who you are and what is important to you. Unfortunately, this is the most neglected and least valued input into career goals, decisions and actions. For most people it is the murky and unclear water that we just do not go near. Yet, the outcome of an aligned occupation and job, which is meaningful and where our best self comes out for us to succeed, lies in self knowledge and using it.
Some key considerations in this step include knowing your:- passion, purpose, vision, values, interests, personality and skills.
STEP 2: Work-life integration – Ensuring Work and Personal Life are Integrated
Gone are the days when work and our personal lives were separated and compartmentalized. The reality now is that there is more integration between these two parts of who we are and many people aspire for more harmony and a good working system between the two. Most people popularly know this as work-life balance, but I promote integration as balance is an impossible aspiration to achieve. Work-Life Integration has also become important in consideration of mental health and calls for everyone to take care of the environment. In this step, you therefore need to take a whole view of your life and the lens that is helpful is using the dimensions of wellness and health and personal management skills.
Some key considerations in this step include assessing and knowing the status of your:- intellectual growth, financial health, social health, spiritual health, physical health, emotional health and mental health.
STEP 3: Research and explore options – Explore your Occupational Options, jobs and the market
In addition to the information about yourself, work-life integration considerations, another step you need to do to inform career decisions and actions is researching and exploring your options. In this step you conduct career research, which is aimed at different types of career actions. For example, in job search, as well as to choose a career path or decide what to study you need to research the occupational options available to you, the job market and skills you need to develop. To be successful in your career goals, you need to invest time in research so that you make informed decisions.
Some key considerations in this step include researching and analysing:- occupational options, labour market information, jobs outlook – employment and unemployment statistics, salary scales and job sources.
STEP 4: Future proofing your career – Prepare for the Future of Work and track Trends
This step is about considering the future to inform both your immediate needs today and being ready for what is coming. It is about future-proofing your career and knowing the key concepts within the Fourth Industrial Revolution that have an huge impact on the future of work and the technological impact on careers, jobs and livelihoods. Developing a personal digital future vision is a key task in this step.
Some key considerations in this step include tracking career and digital trends to learn about and consider the impact of the following on your life, career, business or job:- artificial intelligence (AI), automation, internet of things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and identifying digital skills you need to upskill on to remain relevant.
STEP 5: career plan and key documents – Decision-making, Planning and taking Action
In this Step, you use the information from Steps 1-4 to develop action plans and take career actions. There are several key career actions documents that you will need to develop or update in this step. For example, a career plan will have smart goals and actions for achieving the plan.
Some key considerations in this step include developing or updating the following key career documents:- career plan, job search plan, CV/Resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter samples, references and referees and interview preparation plan.
STEP 6: Career Management tactics – to Develop and Manage your Career
When you are clear about your career strategy/approach, and have developed a plan, you still need to take various actions using different tactics to manage or direct you career as desired.
“Career tactics are actions to maintain oneself in a satisfactory employment situation. Tactics may be more or less assertive, with assertiveness in the work situation referring to actions taken to advance one’s career interests or to exercise one’s legitimate rights while respecting the rights of others.” [source]
Some key considerations in career management tactics include learning about, developing and using:- a career identity, career story, social media profile and strategy, lifelong learning, network building and networking and skills for succeeding at work.
Since career development and management are lifelong processes it means you will continuously be following this career planning cycle as well, to manage important life and work decisions. The 6 steps in this EC Career Planning Model are not linear, but can be used as a guide depending on what you are trying to achieve, which makes flexible to use. Remember, the more information you have about yourself and your context the better you are positioned to make decisions, formulate plans and take career actions.
Ennie Chipembere, Career Coach and Learning Expert
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