During the heady days prior to the turn of the millennium, career planning was jokingly referred to as an oxymoron. Due to the bullish job market, it was thought that you either had a career and no plans of leaving it, or you had a career plan which had no chance of being followed. Nowadays, although career planning is still thought of as an oxymoron, it is also true that you can plan and follow a career path.
The truth of the matter is that there is a job market, it’s just that list of jobs that are in demand keeps on changing. During the past ten or fifteen years, general job descriptions have splintered and given way to specializations and niches which are getting harder and harder to fill. This is proof that there are jobs out there waiting to be filled. It’s just that there might not be enough skilled people to fill them.
Besides the necessary skills, there is a certain aptitude for any career. A career is not just a job or an employment. After a certain point, it becomes a vocation, and as much as the person creates the career, the career also molds the person. Innate skills and talent are a big part of the decision making process towards choosing a career. There are some who are people persons and would work best in an environment where interacting with others would be the norm. Others are more technically oriented and would be well suited to work in a laboratory or programming computers, or working with machines. These are inherent advantages which should be heeded when starting out and finding that first job. These are also important criteria when deciding on a change in careers or in starting out on a second one.
Increasingly, as you work on a job, or in several jobs with different companies, it becomes clear that job satisfaction is a criteria in choosing what line of work you want to be in, or in what industry you want to be a part of. Job satisfaction is like a Napoleonic pose. In Napoleon Bonaparte’s portraits, he is usually seen with one hand in his pants pocket and the other half inside his coat and over his heart. Job satisfaction comes in part from the money you earn (the pocket) and the enjoyment the work brings (the heart).
Being in a career is a tough decision because it encompasses your whole adult life. If you don’t enjoy your work, you’re not going to get promoted. If you stay too long in one job, you might become obsolete but irreplaceable and, hence, non-promotable. Staying on a job or working for a company for years, or moving on and trying something new, is always a tough choice. Ultimately, what matters is the feeling of accomplishment, and satisfaction at a job well done.