01 Career planning


Careers are constantly changing and evolving. Career planning can help you define the direction you want to take in your working life. Career planning helps you to think about your future career aspirations, formulate your goals and plan the next steps towards your goals. However, it is important to keep your career plans flexible enough, as it is important to be open to the opportunities that lie ahead. It is also wise to be prepared for the possibility that your plans may change as new information and interests emerge. Careers are rarely linear; you can also change direction along the way, try something new or go back.

The goal of career planning is to form basic models for your potential professional futures. Self-knowledge is the basis of an effective career planning. When you know yourself and know what you can do, what interests you, what motivates you and what kind of goals you have, you can have a better insight on the direction that you want to go in your career.

Career planning

A career is the chain of different jobs and working life experiences that is unique and different for all of us. Somebody’s career can be a like a train, moving in a straight line towards more and more challenging tasks within a single industry. Somebody else might advance at a slower pace or expand their competence to include other industries as well, moving from one expert position to another, perhaps even changing industries. The third person might have several employers simultaneously and be working on many different things at the same time. 

The goal of career planning is to form basic models for your potential professional futures. Your own ideas are what matter – not the choices of your family or friends, or whatever is currently hot in the media. The basic models for your career develop, change and become richer as you gain more work experience and grow professionally. The point in career planning is not to make a solid plan covering your whole working life. Instead, the models are there to give you some direction. Career planning is something that you can do constantly.

Why and how to plan your career?

Before jumping straight into the job search, take a moment to reflect on your where you want your career to go and to strengthen your self-knowledge. This will ensure that you are heading in a direction that is right and meaningful for you. By knowing what you want from your job and your professional future, you are more likely to make better choices in your job search, take decisions more easily and lay the foundation for your well-being and meaningful work. Without reflection, you may drift on the basis of external desires or your life circumstances and end up in jobs that are not suitable or motivating for you.  

You can and should start to think about your future career while you are still studying. Reflection also often helps you to make good choices in your studies. It's important to find out the fields that interest you so that you can direct your career in those areas. Gaining work experience from your own field already during your studies provides a good foundation for your ideas and planning. It is advisable to gather experience from different places, as spending two or three summers in the same job is not likely to provide you with new ideas.

However, you should not be too rigid in your plans, as you run the risk of missing out on unexpected but good job opportunities. In the right amount, it's worth letting curiosity lead the way in your career and trying different things. By keeping your mind and eyes open to different job opportunities, you'll tune your brain to spot various job opportunities and at the same time allow for chance.

So instead of rigid career planning, leave room for chance and keep an open mind to unexpected career opportunities. The key skills for finding career opportunities are curiosity, perseverance, flexibility, optimism and risk tolerance. You should openly seek opportunities to learn, experiment and expand your understanding. In the face of adversity, try to persevere. Embrace new opportunities. Seize opportunities and start somewhere, even if your destination is not clearly defined.  

Career plans tend to become clearer as you gain experience, develop your skills and learn about your work and yourself. You should start by focusing on what speaks to you in your career, what you are good at and what you are passionate about. Let your career be different from that of other people!  

Career planning means

Getting to know yourself
Developing your self-knowledge by getting to know your skills, perceptions, wishes, values ​​and interests in more detail.
Collecting information of working life and opportunities
Observing the world and other people around you, seeking information and finding out about different opportunities, tasks, roles, working methods and working environments.
Experimentation and curiosity
With open mind, experimenting alternatives in working life, for example different tasks, roles, ways of doing things, working environments and cultures, teams and organizations.

Career planning is about combining all of the above – your experiences and information you have discovered yourself or heard from others, as well as your skills, interests, feelings and personal values.

They form the basis you can use in the future when you need to make choices and decisions that feel meaningful. They offer a means to discover the lifestyle and manner of working that is best for you.

Exercise: Take a look at yourself before starting your job search ‹
Before starting the job search, check out the exercise "Take a look at yourself before starting your job search" in the toolkit.