Career experts say that people will change careers (not jobs) five to seven times in a lifetime. That’s why career management is an important life skill to develop and cultivate. The six stages of modern career development are:
Learning the characteristics of each stage will empower you to navigate through each stage easily and with more confidence.
In the Assessment Stage, you are getting ready for your life’s work. This stage is characterized by unawareness, in that you are not sure what your values, strengths, and weaknesses are. You start to feel as though you want to know more about yourself and make a conscious effort to get in touch with who you really are.
- Taking assessment instruments
- Working with a career counselor or career coach
In the Investigation Stage, you are researching what work exists in the world. This stage is characterized by feelings of confusion, in that you are not sure what career options exist for you. You may feel overwhelmed with all of the jobs and opportunities that exist as you begin the process of researching the modern world of work. But if you approach this stage with a positive frame of mind, you will find that you will learn about many possibilities you may have never considered.
- Researching the world of work
- Conducting informational interviews with people in your chosen field [Editor’s note: See our Informational Interviewing Tutorial]
In the Preparation Stage, you are still getting ready to do your life’s work. This stage is characterized by feelings of excitement, as you think of how wonderful it will be to perform meaningful work. However, there is still much work to be done, and to be successful, you have to prepare.
- Gaining knowledge and experience
- Setting goals and adopting a success-oriented mind-set
In the Commitment Stage, you will feel confident that you have figured out what you are meant to do. Sometimes people have known all along what they were meant to do but could not commit to the process of making it happen, for whatever reason. At this stage, more than ever, you must focus your energy and keep your eye on the target.
- Conducting a job search
- Negotiating and accepting a job offer
In the Retention Stage, you will feel comfortable in your career field, as you will now have figured out how things work in your industry. You will want to remain committed to your career by continually updating your skill set and staying current with industry standards.
- Providing first-class customer-service skills
- Building a professional network
The Transition Stage is characterized by feelings of discomfort in that you are unsure of what you will be doing next (and/or if you will be happy). In this stage, you will learn to make conscious changes in your career direction.
- Making career changes
- Developing resiliency
No matter what career stage you find yourself in now, you can be sure that you will enter and re-enter through these six stages many times throughout your lifetime.
Find this article helpful? There are plenty of other great career planning articles in this section of Quintessential Careers: Career Planning Articles.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is adapted from the book, Get Smart! About Modern Career Development: A Personal Guide to Creating Your Life’s Work (read our review of this book) by Michelle L. Casto, M.Ed., who is a whole life coach, speaker, and author of the Get Smart! LearningBook Series: Get Smart! About Modern Romantic Relationships, Get Smart! About Modern Career Development, and Get Smart! About Modern Stress Management. Her coaching practice is called Brightlight Coaching because she helps people come up with bright ideas for their life and empowers them to freely shine their bright light to the world. She can be reached at [email protected]. Visit virtually: Get Smart! and Brightlight Coaching.
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