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Graduates

5 steps to plan your career

Once you have your degree, you want your investment to pay off by choosing a rewarding career that has you in a role you love. But how do you go about planning your career and choosing the right career path from all the options open to you? 

We think spending a little time up-front can help put you on the right path and have put together five steps to help you plan your career. 

self assessment

1. Self-assessment

consider your options

2. Consider your options

set your goals

3. Set your goals

develop and implement a plan

4. Develop and implement a plan

review and adjust your plan

5. Review and adjust your plan

Step 1: Self-assessment

The better you know yourself, the better your choices will be. Knowing your personality, interests, values and skills will help you identify the jobs and businesses as well as personal and professional career goals best suited to your dreams. A self-assessment can also help you identify any knowledge and/or skills you might need to acquire, or the personal qualities you might need to achieve your career goals. 

To do a self-assessment, write a list of a few things under each heading:

  • Personality: What motivates you and makes you happy?
  • Interests: What are you passionate about?
  • Values: What is important to you?
  • Skills: What are you good at?

There are many free personality and career planning tools online to help inform your self-assessment. You may also like to complete our Aurecon Attributes quiz to find out your strongest attribute and take this into consideration.

Step 2: Research your options

Now you know a little more about yourself, you can start to research the opportunities that play to your strengths and will ultimately deliver a rewarding career. The good news here is that your options may be wider than you initially thought. Often the hard part is narrowing down these options and finding the one that suits you the best. 

You can narrow your options by researching companies, reviewing career information such as particular career paths and by talking to professionals in the field. Another invaluable way to help narrow the options is by taking part in experiences such as volunteering and internships. These give you first-hand experience in the field and can help you decide if you want to pursue that career path or not. Read more about our vacation programme

If you’re still studying, take advantage of the services your university provides and meet with a Career Advisor, or gather advice from friends, colleagues and family members. Take time to consider all the potential outcomes and barriers for each of your options.

Step 3: Decide on your goals

If you are yet to decide on your career goals, look forward two years from now; what do you want to be doing in two years' time? What about in five and ten years’ time? This will help break down the sometimes-scary career path and planning into manageable pieces.

Setting SMART goals is an effective way to help you achieve your goals:

  • Specific: be clear about what you want to achieve
  • Measurable: define a physical way that helps you see you’ve achieved your goal
  • Achievable: don’t set yourself up to fail; make your goal attainable 
  • Relevant: make sure the goal matters to you
  • Time bound: setting a deadline ensures your goal isn’t left unactioned and forgotten.

Step 4: Develop and implement a plan

If you’re in the early stages of your degree, identifying multiple career paths may be a good idea. If you’re nearing the end of your degree, narrowing to one or two options will help focus your job search or graduate school applications.

When creating your plan, it’s important to be realistic about expectations and timelines. Write down the specific steps you need to take to achieve your goals, and check them off as you complete them. Keep in mind your goals and priorities may change, so amend your career plan as needed. This leads us to the final step.

Step 5: Review and adjust your plan

Life happens and unpredictable events and changes can occur over time. View your plan as a guide, and allow space for adjustments. The original plan you create may not be relevant once you’ve achieved certain goals and experienced other job and life events.

Reviewing your plan will help clarify your thinking and can help you decide if you need to change your strategy, get advice on how to achieve your goals, or put more effort into achieving them.

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