Career Planning

What is career planning?

​​Career planning is an ongoing process that can help you take control of your learning and development.

You can use the career planning process whether you are:

  • still in school;
  • an adult adding on skills; or
  • an adult changing your job or career.

Career planning is the continuous process of:

  • thinking about your interests, values, skills and preferences;
  • exploring the life, work and learning options available to you;
  • ensuring that your work fits with your personal circumstances; and
  • continuously fine-tuning your work and learning plans to meet the changes in your life and the world of work.


Why is it important?

It is a proven fact that individuals of our current working population will undertake five to seven occupational changes throughout their lifetime. This means that we are continually evaluating where we are, what we’ve done, and where we want to go. Having a plan is important in terms of setting goals for ourselves and provides us with the steps and possible outcomes required to reach these goals.

Also, today’s organizations cannot promise their employees lifetime careers. The employer is forced to focus on the best interest of the company – which may or may not be what is in the best interest of each employee.

Your employer can help you manage your career and grow professionally by providing training, job progression and increased responsibility. However, it is up to you to actually plan your career by deciding on your goals and the intermediate steps and jobs that you want to take to achieve your dreams. You are the only person that can truly understand the importance of planning your career path.

Having a career path is like having a professional insurance policy. By developing a  career plan, you have the opportunity to:

  • Build a broader skill base: You will have identified and learned the skills necessary to make you more attractive to a wider range of employers.
  • Make logical job transitions: You will know what skills and responsibilities to look for in the next job.
  • Have increasing responsibility: You will have identified and gained the skills and training you need to take on more responsibility.
  • Have a broader perspective: You will be able to understand where a specific job or responsibility fits into your overall career path plans.
  • Make decisions easier: You can look at a decision within a larger context and better evaluate your options.
  • Earn more: You are less likely to be underpaid since your career research will tell you what you should be earning.
  • Be more satisfied: You will be moving in a career direction that is designed to meet your lifestyle, interests and financial goals.



The Four Steps of Career Planning

Step 1: Knowing Yourself
Step 2: Finding Out
Step 3: Making Decisions
Step 4: Taking Action


Step 1: Knowing Yourself

Begin by thinking about where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where am I at now?
  • Where do I want to be?
  • What do I want out of a job or career?
  • What do I like to do?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What is important to me?

At the end of this step you will have a clearer idea of your work or learning goals as well as your individual preferences. You can use this information about yourself as your personal ‘wish list’ against which you can compare all the information you gather in Step 2.

Step 2: Finding Out

This step is about exploring the occupations and learning areas that interest you. Once you have some idea of your occupational preferences you can research the specific skills and qualifications required for those occupations. Explore occupations that interest you and ask yourself:

  • How do my skills and interests match up with these occupations?
  • Where are the gaps?
  • What options do I have in order to gain these skills or qualify for these occupations?
  • What skills do I need?
  • Where is the work?

At the end of this step you will have a list of preferred occupations and/or learning options.

Step 3: Making Decisions

This step involves comparing your options, narrowing down your choices and thinking about what suits you best at this point in time.  Ask yourself:

  • What are my best work/training options?
  • How do they match with my skills, interests and values?
  • How do they fit with the current labor market?
  • How do they fit with my current situation and responsibilities?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • What will help and what will hinder me?
  • What can I do about it?

At the end of this step you will have narrowed down your options and have more of an idea of what you need to do next in order to achieve your goals.

Step 4: Taking Action

At this point you will plan the steps you need to take to put your plan into action. Use all of what you have learned about your skills, interests and values together with the information you have gathered about the world of work to create your plan. Begin by asking yourself:

  • What actions/steps will help me achieve my work, training and career goals?
  • Where can I get help?
  • Who will support me?

At the end of this step you will have:

  • a plan to help you explore your options further (e.g. work experience, job shadowing or further research); or
  • a plan which sets out the steps to help you achieve your next learning or work goal.


Decide which step is relevant for you right now and start from there. 

Career Planning @ DCC

DCC offers low-income, pell-eligible students the opportunity to meet with a Student Success Coach for career planning. During these sessions, students can explore career options, take assessments, create an outstanding resume, practice for interviews, search local jobs and internships and develop career connections with our career planning services.


To schedule an appointment for career planning services, call 434-797-8536, or fill out the form below and a Student Success Coach will contact you to set up a meeting. 

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