A well-known phrase runs thus: "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". This saw works well for career planning too.
Career planning ideally should start during the final years of your education. If you are lucky and your educational institute has a "career guidance counsellor" so much the better, as he/she can open a number of avenues for you depending upon your skills and temperament. If you did not have this luxury then you need to go it alone keeping in mind the following:
You must have some idea on what you want and in what sector you would like to make a career. This is very important. Initially at ground level it is necessary to have a goal. You might change tack later in life but the initial decision is by far the most important one you will take. This should be your personal mission.
Once you know the type of job you want educate yourself on the intricacies of this job. Attend seminars, courses etc and get to know about the job better.
You are most likely to encounter road blocks but NEVER give up and be your own agent of change. You must consider yourself as a commodity to be sold and sell yourself effectively by using a well constructed resume.
Preferably do not look for a job which pays more but look for one where you enjoy working as this would pay back in the long run.
Be positive in your interviews and convince the interviewers that you are capable of handling the job if given a chance and stick to your promise.
If you find an opening in a different organization that suits your skills and temperament, do not hesitate to apply for that job.
Be always open minded in everything in the work place.
Follow your heart because sometimes a "gut feeling" works better.
Put your plans into action after thoroughly going through them and removing any kinks in them.
Never fall into the following traps:
Having no clear focus, not being able to articulate properly, lacking in clarity and direction etc..
Diffidence, uncertainty, lack of self-confidence, fear of the unknown – all these will drag you down.
Negativity in any form would be your downfall and so avoid thinking negatively.
Neil Theobald - http://www.careercubicle.com/