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Career Development

7 Tools to Plan Your Career the Right Way

February 25, 2020

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Deciding on a career takes research, goal setting and knowledge of self. Career planning tools can make this complex task easier to manage. There are many career planning tools designed to assist people just joining the workforce or those interested in making a career transition. In this article, we discuss what career planning tools are, why they are important and which are the most useful career planning tools.

Related: 8 Free Career Aptitude Tests for Adults

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What are career planning tools?

Career planning tools are documents, worksheets, procedures or practices used to help determine the best career for you. Some high schools provide career planning tools as students prepare to apply for college, join the military or join the workforce, usually in the form of questionnaires and guidance counseling. However, career planning tools are available, both online and in person, for anyone at any age who is interested in exploring new career options.

Related: How to Make a Career Plan in 8 Steps

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Why are career planning tools important?

Career planning tools are important because they help narrow your options when you are uncertain about what you want to do for your career. To be successful in a career, you should enjoy the work you do and have a specific skill set. Career planning tools can help you determine what jobs might interest you, what jobs are available in your field of interest and what skills you already have that are transferable to a career. Additionally, career planning tools can help establish a path to obtain a job, guiding you through the necessary educational and experience-based steps.

Related: How to Find the Best Jobs for You

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Career planning tools

Career planning tools range in type and cost. Some are independent while others require the assistance of a counselor. Some are free while others cost money. Use these career planning tools to help you find the best career for you:

  1. SWOT analysis
  2. Career testing
  3. Self-assessment
  4. Research
  5. Community resources
  6. Personality tests
  7. Career planning process

1. SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis helps you learn about yourself so you can identify a job that fits your skill set. Additionally, a SWOT analysis will identify external factors that may impact your career choice. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors while opportunities and threats are external factors. Here are some of the questions you might ask yourself to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats:

  • Strengths: What skills do I have? What am I interested in? What sort of environment do I thrive in?
  • Weaknesses: What subjects do I do poorly in? What am I scared of? What do I not enjoy?
  • Opportunities: In what environment do I work the hardest? How am I best motivated?
  • Threats: Do I bring any risks to an organization? Why might a company not want to hire me?

    An in-depth SWOT analysis can help you determine what benefits you may bring to a potential employer and areas in which you can focus on improving.

2. Career testing

Many private companies provide career tests to determine what job best suits your personality and qualifications. Some of these cost money and some are free. Often, guidance counselors will administer career tests with high school students to help them decide on career paths before college. Some free career tests may also be found online, but it may be more effective to enlist the help of a career coach for a customized career assessment.

3. Self-assessment

Self-assessments assume that you know yourself better than any test could. Self-assessments rely on personal reflection to identify interests and skills in a particular field. There are many ways to complete a self-assessment:

  • Writing: Write about what you picture when you think of a workplace. Are there other people around? Are you outside? What time is it? Use your imagination to determine what your ideal job looks like.
  • Worksheets: Self-assessment worksheets and workbooks provide questions to guide reflection. These can help you focus your thinking and assist you in identifying what you might like to do as a job.
  • Shadowing: Ask friends or family if you can shadow them at work for a day. Reflect on what you liked or did not like about their workplace and job duties to help you determine what job is the best fit for you.

4. Research

Read about different careers and see which ones appeal to you. There are many ways to research career and job opportunities, but the easiest is a tool like Indeed's Career Guide. It allows you to explore many career paths quickly to ascertain what interests you and plot a path to establishing that career.

5. Community resources

Many communities offer career planning tools through workshops, seminars, websites and publications. Public libraries are an excellent community resource for those interested in career planning. Libraries offer books, magazines and computers for research. Libraries and community centers may also provide community workshops on career planning. Your local county's unemployment office also has a variety of career planning resources.

6. Personality tests

Personality tests are assessments that identify fundamental aspects of your personality and usually explain how those aspects make you a positive or negative candidate for certain jobs, relationships or activities. The popular Myers-Briggs test helps you figure out your personality type, which helps steer you in the right direction for your career.

7. Career planning process

If you want to determine what career you should have and the steps it will take to get there, use a career planning process. This is a step-by-step plan formulated to determine your interests, skills, and ideal career. The career planning process will help you determine what education and experience you need to find a job in your chosen career field.

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