A solid career plan will help to ensure you are aware of the many options available to you and that you gain the skills and experience you need to be on the right track to the career and lifestyle you want.
Our career planning guide outlines the steps in this process. Remember, this fluid, dynamic and continuous process is part of a lifelong journey and as you come to new decision points, you may return to an earlier stage in the cycle. It is also possible to be moving through multiple cycles simultaneously, like looking for a summer job while planning for your long-term career.
1. ASSESS YOURSELF
Students tend to overlook the need to establish meaningful self-evaluations and rush to explore potential careers and job openings, but taking the time to assess yourself can better your chances of having a rewarding career.
So before applying to numerous job postings or further education programs, consider assessing the following personal attributes to gain more clarity into the directions you want to consider:
- Skills: One’s particular ability and the strength to carry out a responsibility. These abilities can be hard or soft. For example, do you excel at technical tasks or academic problem-solving?
- Interests: The inclination of wanting to understand or comprehend something. For example, does consumer behaviour fascinate you? Or maybe you are drawn to the healthcare field? How can this desire to learn translate into a career?
- Values: Things that are important to you now and in the future. Some questions you might ask yourself include; What motivates me? How much is work-life balance important to me? How comfortable am I with risk? Is it important for me to work for a good cause? What work environment would I be most happy in? Could this change once I have a family?
- Personality: A defined set of behaviors that are influenced by one’s environment. Would you prefer to interact with numerous clients’ inquiries or to work on individual projects?
Whatever the outcome, completing a career exploration is a very useful starting point for students. Remember that career and lifestyle choices go hand-in-hand. Considering what type of lifestyle you want and how it relates to your individualized interests, skills and values, will help you to target potential careers.
Career Planning and What Can I Do with My Career?
Discuss what kind of career you can go into with your major and some viable long-term plans based on your interests, aptitudes, and academic profile.
Interest/Career Assessment Initial Appoinment
Learn more about your interests, skills, and values and how to link them to possible careers. Investigate what options are out there in the world of work and gain answers to common career questions like, “What can I do with my major?” and “Where am I going with my career?” Work with a career advisor to develop a plan for how to get there.
Career Interest Assessment Workshop
Complete the most widely used career interest assessment to gain insight into your career interests and match them with occupations and educational options in this interactive workshop. Explore nearly 300 occupations using the Strong Interest Inventory with the guidance of a career advisor.
2. EXPLORE CAREERS
Once you have assessed your skills, interests, values, and personality in relation to the type of career you may want, the next step is to further investigate potential occupations that relate. Researching various avenues of your education and narrowcasting potential job titles will provide in-depth information to help prepare you for your ideal career before you even enter into the job market.
With the importance of exploring career options, it is essential to find the right outlets to gather information about companies and occupations, as well as to seek opportunities that offer practical experience. Consider the following strategies when beginning to explore your career options:
- Explore trends by conducting labour market research, utilizing various materials available online and in the career resource centre.
- Investigate jobs and employment sectors firsthand by getting involved in the community.
- Meet with people working in the fields that interest you and discuss their views on their career, field, and industry.
No matter the outcome of your research, exploring careers is useful for students thinking about entering the workforce. Investigating what opportunities are present within the community you wish to work will help to maximize your employment success in the field that is right for you.
Using Social Media to Leverage Your Career
Check out the Using Social Media to Leverage Your Career workshop to discover how you can use tools like LinkedIn to network and do valuable career research.
WEBINAR: What is Labour Market Information?
Learn what labour market information is, why it is important, how to find it, and how to use it to give you an advantage in your career.
3. EXPAND SKILLS
Now that you have researched potential careers and identified types of positions that interest you, the next step is to expand your relevant skills based on the requirements and expertise needed in your chosen career path. Training and practical experience is incredibly vital to finding a job. Much like assessing yourself and exploring careers, expanding your skills is an important step in achieving your goals.
There are generally two pathways to expand your skills: through hands-on experiences or formal education. Consider the following additional channels when attempting to build your skills, knowledge and reputation:
- Job opportunities (Full/Part Time Positions and Summer Positions).
- Experiential learning opportunities (Co-op, Internships, VIP, Assistantships, etc.).
- Graduate level or continued education.
- Volunteer work, clubs, or leadership activities.
Using the right avenues to expand and develop skills specific to the career you want is a personal competitive advantage. With the right intellectual tools and abilities, you can become an invaluable asset in the particular industry that interests you.
Considering Further Education
Discuss the various options that may exist and explore things you may want to consider when determining program options. If you already intend to apply for additional schooling you can discuss tips for your application materials or have your personal statement reviewed.
Preparing for Professional Schools
Do you have an admission interview coming up for Medicine, Law, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, etc…? Learn how to prepare for school entrance interviews and effectively discuss your skills and experience related to your program of choice.
4. MARKET YOURSELF
Once you understand the types of careers that are right for you and have gained some expertise related to these positions, you want to become comfortable marketing yourself to employers. While this step
can also encompass applying to post-graduate education options, marketing your transferable skills and potential offerings to your target employer in a strategic way can help you land that job.
When marketing yourself to a particular industry or even a specific position, there are a few key elements you may want to consider mastering:
- Networking with professionals working in your desired field.
- Building your personal brand and developing an effective cover letter and resume.
- Utilizing social networking tools, such as LinkedIn.
More often than not, being in association with other employees of an organization gets your foot in the door before potential competitors. That is why it is important to reach out and network with individuals or groups in common occupational circles.
This half-hour career advising appointment gives you the opportunity to discuss strategies and best practices with a knowledgeable, objective party ahead of your interview.
After completing an Interview Prep appointment, you can schedule an in-person mock interview with a member of the Career Development team. A one-hour mock interview gives you an opportunity to practice interviewing with a trained professional who is well versed in the job interview process.
Cover Letter and Resume
Guidance and tips will be provided on the purpose of a resume/cover letter, how they are viewed by potential employers and the construction and formatting of an eye-catching, industry-specific resume.
Guidance and tips will be provided on the purpose of a CV, when to use one, and the construction and formatting of an eye-catching CV for applying to opportunities in academia and research.
LinkedIn Profile Critique
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for networking and connecting with job opportunities. Review your LinkedIn profile with a career advisor and get some guidance and tips on how to enhance it and increase your chances of impressing employers and recruiters in your desired field.
Personal Statements and Letters of Intent
Guidance and tips will be provided on crafting a personal statement or letter of intent, what to include and how to format one.
Learn how to create powerful resumes that will get noticed by employers.
Skills Statements & Cover Letter Creation Lab
Learn how to create effective skill statements and cover letters that will communicate your value to employers.
Learn what steps to take before, during, and after an interview to successfully sell yourself to an employer.
Using Social Media to Leverage Your Career
Attend the Using Social Media to Leverage Your Career workshop to learn how you can effectively network with professionals and market yourself through social media.
5. FIND A JOB
It often takes some trial and error before breaking into the job market. On average, it takes active job seekers months before landing their first interview. Continuing to be persistent, talking to employers and individuals working in your industry of choice, and tailoring your resume to each job posting will help you find the most success.
At the point in which you’re ready to actively search for potential opportunities of employment, consider a few important skills you should attempt to hone:
- Learning about and developing job search techniques to build an effective strategy to find your next opportunity.
- Actively searching out job postings through resources, such as the job posting board on MySuccess.
- Practicing your interview skills, and considering the DOs and DON’Ts you should follow during a professional interview.
These skills are especially important, as nearly 70-80% of jobs are ever posted. Although it may be discouraging at times, being persistent and continuing to apply to various job postings as well as practicing interview skills will set you up for success.