Making Career Plans

man looking out window

Experts like to talk about how often people change careers in their lifetimes. This figure usually ranges from three and seven times. Changing careers becomes more difficult, but not impossible, as you get older because your responsibilities typically increase with age. You might not have as many responsibilities at age 25 as you might have when you are 40.

Here are some tips for you to navigate changes in your work life.

How to Change Careers

Maybe you lost your job, or you may need to change to a career that better fits your family's needs. Now might be a good time to look at your options. You may decide to:

  • Get more training to make yourself more marketable. 
  • Find a new job that uses similar skills and knowledge to your previous jobs.  These are called transferable skills. Your skills might qualify you for jobs that pay more or have other benefits you want. This may require additional training.  

First Step … Stop! Make a Plan.

Before you make a plan, it's important to understand the difference between a “job” and a “career.” A paycheck is essential to most families; your job is how you earn that paycheck.

Your career is the journey that encompasses all your jobs, experiences, and training. A career plan helps you create and achieve long-term goals. For example, you may need to start working at a job you don't like to earn a paycheck or gain experience. Planning will help you continue moving towards jobs you want over time.

Follow each of the steps below to create your plan.

Assessments help you discover careers that fit your personality best. Use the tools below to explore which careers match your unique skills, interests, and work values.

  • Skills Matcher
    This Skills Matcher lets you rate yourself on different skill sets to see which occupations match your abilities.
  • CareerOneStop Interest Assessment
    You will be more engaged and successful in a career that matches your interests. Answer questions about what you like and dislike to see which jobs you are more likely to enjoy.
  • Work Values Assessment
    Spend time thinking about what is important to you. Do you need support in your work environment? Value independence? Or is a specific work environment important to you? Use this assessment to explore what your work values are and find related careers.

If you have not already done so, make sure you know which careers are available where you want to live. 

Once you decide the career and salary you want, break down your goal into small steps that are SMART. SMART goals are:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-based

  • Specific: Specific means the goal is precise and detailed. Instead of: "I want to get better at typing," a more specific goal would be: "I'm going to practice typing for an hour twice a week."
  • Measurable: Measurable means you can see if you have achieved a goal. Instead of: "I want to get better at typing," a measurable goal would be: "I will be able to type 40 words per minute by October 10."
  • Achievable: Achievable means that you can accomplish the step you have set out to do. Instead of: “I'm going to get hired by Friday," an achievable goal would be: “I’m going to submit a resume and cover letter to an employer every day this week.”
  • Realistic: Realistic means it's possible to do the task within a fixed amount of time. Instead of: “I’m going to apply for 15 jobs online every day,” a realistic goal would be: “I’m going to apply for one job every day.”
  • Time-based: Time-based means the goal is not open-ended, but there is a timeframe. Instead of: “I’m going to write a resume and a cover letter,” a time-based goal would be: “I’m going to attend a resume workshop on Friday.” or “I’m going to finish writing my resume by next week.”