It is estimated that more than 90% of people do not deliberately plan a career path. Following school, most of us take whatever job is available and begin our life work. Many follow work related to what parents or other family members have done while others follow the route taken by friends and associates. These haphazard methods seldom lead to optimal career development. Why is this?
Dr. Powe's new book, Career Planning and Development--In Reverse, presents a systems approach to career planning and development. The systems approach to problem solving has been used in many disciplines and is a proven technique to achieve optimal results. The basis of the systems approach is that every element of a situation or problem is interrelated to every other element. Thus, proper and effective planning must consider all of the associated interrelationships. The book offers a detailed twelve-step planning process for achieving a positive contributing life.
Step 1. Retirement Planning.
Most of us look forward to the day when we don't have to set the clock and be at a certain place at a certain time designated by someone else. The desired retirement life style impacts the amount of money needed in retirement. Will you be content to drive a clunker car, participate in non-expensive recreational activities, and risk not having supplemental health insurance or will you want frequent travel, live in an exclusive retirement community, and assure the best of health care through additional insurance?
Step 2. How Much Money In Retirement?
Many people are surprised to learn that a retirement income equivalent to 65-85 percent of the income at the time of retirement is required to maintain the same standard of living in retirement that was enjoyed while working. A minimum of one million dollars (2010 dollars) is needed. The thought of saving one million dollars over one's working life is daunting at first thought, but with proper planning, is entirely feasible for most of the population. Most noncontributory pension plans are gone. Now, most individuals are totally responsible to earn the retirement income through 401k, Social Security, inheritance, and other savings plans. The foregoing few words should be enough to convince you that planning your career in reverse starting with retirement income needs is the way to go.
Step 3. Who Am I? Every person is an individual--is unique.
We have a genetic tie to our parents, but each of us is a different person with marvelous talents, interests, and characteristics. In this step, one should formally define personality, religious preferences, ethics and values, interests, skills, experiences, knowledges, and learning capabilities. Often, we do not know what these talents and interests are as related to the workplace.
Step 4. Work Requirements.
Once you know your retirement requirements and who you are, it is time to learn what work is about. There are many ways to earn a living with varying degrees of desirability and income. We tend to perform better at tasks in which we have an interest so the job selected should be related to something of interest. Usually, high paying jobs have undesirable characteristics such as frequent travel, extensive time away from home, high mental and/or physical stress, and hazardous working environments.
Step 5. Who Am I versus Job Opportunities.
You should make a list of jobs that meet your requirements and match "who you are" to them. Quite a lot of research is required to make the match between retirement requirements and "who you are." For example, you should know whether or not a job category demand is increasing or decreasing. It would not be wise to start a career in a field that will become obsolete by technology in a few years.
Step 6. Job Search.
Although searching the Internet is useful, networking is still the most effective method of securing a job offer. You should have developed a comprehensive network through social and professional activities. In addition, if you were fortunate enough to have mentors along the way, they can help as well.
Step 7. Select Opportunities.
You will find that there will be many career fields that match your retirement requirements and "who you are." Make and evaluate a list of the opportunities that could satisfy your requirements.
Step 8. Write Resume.
The purpose of the resume is to secure an interview. Each resume must be tailored to each specific opportunity. Have someone else proof read the final copy.
Step 9. Interview.
If the resume has served its purpose, you will be offered several interviews. Prior to the interview, research everything you can find about the company. You should know its management, organization, products or services, and competition well enough to be spontaneous in conversations with the people conducting the interviews. It is expected that you will "put your best foot forward," but never lie about anything. Keep in mind that you are on exhibition from the moment you drive into the parking lot until the time you leave the parking lot. Don't assume anything—everything rests on the initial and follow up interviews.
Step 10. Negotiate Offer.
If the interviews went well, you may be made a formal offer in writing. Negotiation is a delicate issue. Some companies will withdraw an offer if you try to negotiate. Intelligence on the company's hiring practices is helpful, but difficult to determine.
Step 11. Job Performance.
Finally, you are on the payroll. You are in the door. Now the real test begins. Do you have a "can do" attitude toward any task, menial or otherwise? Keeping a job and being competitive for promotion are very directly related to how well you perform every task. Every job has less desirable tasks that must be performed. Make certain that you perform every task with enthusiasm and vigor. Be willing to study on your own time to become better qualified.
Step 12. Contributing Life.
From my perspective, success in life should be measured by the contributions one makes in the workplace, home, and in the performance of civic responsibilities.
This article has been a brief snapshot of the material to be found in "Career Planning and Development--In Reverse." The book includes 115 current references and many illustrating examples from personal experience. It is Published by Outskirts Press, Inc. and distributed via Ingram, Baker & Taylor. It is sold by Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Outskirts Press, Inc. and bookstores and is available in paperback, eBook and Kindle formats. For more information, please visit www.outskirtspress.com/CareerPlanningandDevelopmentinReverse .