Current Issue 13thFebruary 2016 - 19 February 2016, i.e. No. 45

How to Plan your Career

Dr. S. S. Chadha

As soon as a young child comes out of school he is confronted with the problem of choosing which is the most appropriate stream of studies for him to study further i.e. Humanities, Non-Medical, Medical, Commerce, Arts, Agriculture, Vocational trades etc. This decision will set limit for his future choice of career. Leaving aside some common overlapping fields of occupations he is left with the option to make a choice of his career from the fields of occupations covered under that stream of education only. Therefore, such choice of stream must be right one so that he will not have to regret for a wrong choice later on. Thus, this exercise of choice has assumed very great significance in his life.

Of course, you as a parent will pool your all resources to best guide your child in an effort to make most suitable choice for him. You will also elicit the help of his teachers as well as known persons and your relatives. Your combined efforts may lead to a realistic choice of course which will ultimately take him to enter an occupation of that field but it is also possible that in absence of most reliable scientific psychological data about your child, your child may make a decision which may turn out to be an unrealistic one. If your child is very bright and his targeted career is below his potentials it is termed as an unrealistic choice. Similarly, if your child has middle level abilities but his choice of career needs higher level of abilities such a choice will also be considered an unrealistic one. Hence, your child needs assistance of an expert to steer him out of such problematic situations in order to make a right choice. In case, such help is not forthcoming readily you may follow some of the suggestions listed below to arrive at an appropriate choice of courses of further studies in order to make him an efficient employable person in life.

Are you aware about the correct usage of the term career which is being discussed here? If you already know, it is fine, but some of you may still desire to know it. Let it be defined first of all as this term is interchanged with terms like job, occupation, calling and vocation. Let us start with clear understanding of the term “CAREER”.

Occupational psychology defines career as a ladder of occupations showing your upward mobility (in certain cases downward mobility). After completion of targeted education you will join an initial occupation and will go on further through out your working life passing through one occupation to another. This process is termed as your ‘career’.

What is Career Planning?

Career planning is a process of deciding your ideal and an appropriate career based upon your course of studies, which rightly commensurate with your basic aptitudes, work preferences; Need to Achieve (n Ach), personality traits and work style based on your acquired skills, self confidence, attitudes, adjustment level and emotional intelligence levels etc.

What does Career Planning Process Constitute?

1. The first step in career planning is to gain a better understanding of your basic aptitudes, intrinsic interests (work prefereances) , n ‘ach (need achievement), personality and its traits, self confidence, adjustment status and psychological hurdles affecting careers. You will benefit by using testing batteries of these factors. So apply different types of Career Inventories, also known as Tests to assist you.

Hence you have to:

  1. Find out your career related aptitudes.
  2. Sort out matching fields of course of future studies, which commensurate with your aptitudes.
  3. On the basis of your aptitudes’ results discover occupations that match your courses of
    studies and other competencies.
  4. Try to know how you will adjust:-
    to people working in such careers;
    i. related circumstances and demands of your aptitudes to execute it; preferences in such occupation;
    iii.personality traits which facilitate in such occupation;
    iv.other competencies needed in your work environments;
    v.and visualize whether these adjustments will result in ‘stresses or satisfaction’.
  5. Work out transferable skills as well and accomplishments so that alternative line can be taken in case of readjustment to changing situations.
  6. Know your emotional intelligence levels as it is an indicator of success in your career.

2. The second step involves the analysis of collected and compiled occupational information about occupational options suggested by the results of your test results. This step will cover:-

  1. Working environment and conditions.
  2. Training, other qualifications.
  3. Advancement opportunities.
  4. Employment trends.
  5. Future job outlook.
  6. Compensation and related occupations.
  7. Other incentives.

3. The third step involves decision making. You have to develop a career plan in consultation with Career Counsellor keeping in mind the data so far collected. Take the assistance of experienced Career Counsellor.

4. The fourth step is to execute the career plan by undergoing the course of studies related to your choice. Take effective steps if any readjustment is warranted to carry out your Career Planning. There are significant factors which play prominent role in career development. The details about some of such important factors needs clarifications to understand their roles properly which are listed to update your understanding. Role of Aptitudes, Need to Achieve (n ‘Ach), Personality, Self-confidence, Adjustment, Emotional Intelligence, Work Preferences and Psychological Hurdles in career development.

Aptitudes: Your aptitudes are pointer to your symptomatic future performances. They determine the attainment levels as well as types of activities you are capable of doing. The modern research studies have established that there are nine independent basic aptitudes which are needed in execution of every occupation. Of course, every occupation requires different levels of these nine aptitudes. Their determination is finalized through multiple cut off technique. Researches have also determined the levels of aptitudes needed for almost every occupation. Career Counsellors have to find out the levels of these aptitudes of the individuals and match them with those of various occupations to find most suitable careers for them. Out of which they can exercise their final choices keeping in mind their individual preferences as well as market trends concerning such career. The nine basic aptitudes which are tested on General Aptitude Testing Battery are Intelligence coded as ‘G’, Verbal Aptitude coded as ‘V’, Numerical Aptitude coded as ‘N’, Spatial Aptitude coded as ‘S’, Form Perception coded as ’P’, Clerical Perception coded as ‘P’, Motor Co-Ordination coded as ‘K’, Finger Dexterity coded as ‘F’ and Manual Dexterity coded as ‘M’. Need to Achieve (n ‘Ach) contribution in career development is very paramount. In its measurement the following three aspects are covered using projective techniques:

To succeed in competition with some standard of excellence (example: I am preparing for

i. examination and hope to stand first in it).
Unique achievement (example: Ram is busy in bringing out the details of production of
ii. nuclear energy and has succeeded in inventing a new machine).
Long term involvement (example: I am preparing for pre-medical classes and I want to
ii. become a very good doctor).

Personality and personality traits: Your personality patterns will also be a deciding factor in selection of your choice. Whether you are emotionally liable or a balanced person will go a long way in deciding the career matching your personality. Extrovert persons are preferred in careers involving people interactions. Introverts are considered more suitable where fewer interactions with people are required. Neurotic patterns of personality are generally more suitable where quick actions are needed. These are prominent dimensions of your personality will make career a success if it matches with requirements of a given occupation otherwise may lead to problems in its execution. Now-a-days personality make up carries considerable weight in selection process. Personality measurement is done through Personality Inventories as well as through projective techniques.

Self-Confidence: It has been observed that lack of self-confidence is prominent cause of failures even though you are able and shining in the academic world. The quality of mind or spirit will enable you to face difficulties is indicator of your level of self-confidence. Generally lack of competence, secret-maintaining, physical disabilities, guilt and inferiority feelings as well as negative attitudes are responsible for low confidence. Overcome these weaknesses to built-up your self-confidence.

Adjustment: Good, very good, excellent or poor adjustment status in areas of emotional, social and educational field will smoothen or hinder your success in educational attainments as well as in social and career developments. It will go long way if you make better adjustment in your emotional, social and educational areas of life. Consult a counsellor in case you need improvement in any of these areas of life for promotion or success.

Emotional intelligence covers:

Your self-awareness.

a.Management of your emotions.
b.Your Self Motivation .
c.Recognizing emotions in other persons.
d.Handling relations competencies.
e.The recent studies have pointed out that emotional competencies were twice as important in contributing “EXCELLENCE” in you as were your pure “INTELLECT” and expertise. In contribution to excellence of a person it has been pointed by studies that cognitive (intellectual) capacities were about 27% more frequent on outstanding stars (persons) than average persons while greater strengths in emotional competencies’ were 53% more frequent in them.

The above reference will clear your understanding that emotional intelligence (E.Q.) is of paramount importance in giving better performances in your lives hence, while career planning get assessed your E.Q. to evaluate your chances of success in your career.

Work Preferences: The work preferences are associated with occupations. The most preferred work preferences for different occupations have been worked out for the available occupations. The aptitude levels and work preferences are taken into consideration for deciding suitable occupations you are capable of doing through multi cut off procedure.

Psychological Hurdles: During the long period of career counseling I have observed that young people suffer from different types of psychological hurdles. Prominent among them are ‘lack of knowledge of aptitudes and related fields of careers’, ‘lack of concentration’, ‘feelings of depressions’ as a result of stresses and strains they have to face constantly, ‘lack of self-confidence and motivation’, ‘uncontrolled temper’, ’ nervousness’, ‘sexual conflicts’, ‘inferiority feelings’ ‘fears and worries about financial support’, and ‘parental indifference and lack of rapport with them’ as well as problem of ‘how to study properly’ were found to be very common. Such hurdles contribute negatively in educational achievements which effect in their admissions to courses for which they will be otherwise suitable. It will be in their interest to take any step to minimize them in case they are victim to any of such psychological hurdles.

Chance Factors: You must not ignore the chance factors in your career plan. The best career plan sometimes may not meet its desired goals owing to factors beyond your control like war-breakouts, natural calamities in addition to dynamic technological developments. Such eventualities will result in creation of new avenue and at the same time restrict expansion in existing career fields. It does not mean that you just leave your career plan to chance but plan your career in more dynamic style to the best possible way while keeping all suggestions described so far in mind.

To Sum up it is useful to analyze yourself in the process of career planning before hand. After having made a study of the occupations you are endowed to carry out, you would like to make a thorough study of your own self i.e. your mental and physical abilities, work preferences (interests), personality make- up, aptitudes, attitudes, emotional intelligence/emotional awareness, other relevant traits and aspirations keeping your family financial background in view. All such factors will determine your capacity to pursue a particular course of studies, your success in it and happiness in the chosen career. Your abilities set limit to your success, which you will attain in the initial occupation as well as in your entire career thereafter. It will be in order to know that some occupations demand special types of physical abilities i.e., abilities to undertake hazardous work or long rounds of walking active movements of limbs, physical clearness, co-ordination of eye and hands etc. Hence, it is suggested that you must be aware of your physical strengths and weaknesses in case you want to avoid wastage of energy in un-necessary pursuits.

During my career counseling work during the last about forty years it has been observed that several young men and women after several years of hard labour find themselves medically unfit to enter into their targeted occupation. You can well imagine the quantum of wastage of time, energies, and financial resources of such persons. It is advisable to get yourself medical examined and match your medical data with that of targeted occupation if it is essential to pass the medically standard attach to such occupations.

Who knows what great opportunities you might miss because of your graduating late on account of faulty career planning? What is the appropriate way to avoid such eventualities? Of course, you would conclude that had I planned my career at the proper time and in the right way I could have possibly avoided such unpleasant situations. It will be convenient for you to plan your career in consultation with an experienced counsellor.

About Author:
Dr. S. S. Chadha (M.A. (Psychology), Dip. In Edu. Voc. Guidance had done doctorate work in the field of ‘Career Aspirations’. He has more than 40 years of experience in career counseling field. At present he is running Career Counseling Centre at # 2083, Sector 15-C, Chandigarh-160015

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