For Students, Alumni, and Employers

6 Steps for Career Planning

Step 1: Explore Career Options

Use career assessment tools to explore fields further so that you can better utilize guidance from our career staff. This stage helps make you aware of the many possibilities that exist. In addition to learning position titles, you will also discover the skills, educational requirements, and personal attributes needed to be successful in various fields. Gathering this information helps career counselors make suggestions for majors, jobs, and careers that would fit in with your interests and skills. The goal here is to come up with a few options to share with a career counselor.

Step 2: Conduct Field Research

This stage is useful in deciding between different fields to pursue. What better way to explore career options than to meet with someone working in the field? It entails meeting with people in different positions or industries that you are interested in and asking them questions about their job. This is also the first step in starting to build a professional network. To help you with this stage, pick up a packet in the Career Center on Field Research and Informational Interviews.

Step 3: Determine Your Job Target

After you have looked at your options by doing career exploration and field research, it is time to make a decision and set some goals. The components of this decision are called your Job Target. Your Job Target is the specific industry and position you choose to pursue. It may also include geographic location. Your Job Target can change as you gain more experience and knowledge about yourself.

Step 4: Build Your Credentials and Resume

This stage is ongoing and the more you build your credentials, the better your resume becomes. A great resume leads to interviews and offers. The best ways to build your credentials and knowledge are by:

  • Doing internships related to your Job Target
  • Taking classes and attending seminars related to your Job Target
  • Reading books, journals, and magazines related to your Job Target
  • Joining professional associations or clubs on campus related to your Job Target

Upload your resume at so employers can view it.

Step 5: Prepare for Your Job Search

This stage requires researching companies and organizations you want to work for and establishing if your friends, family, or the Career Center have any leads there. Learn to write calling scripts and develop tactics for approaching employers other than looking at advertisements (which seldom bring quick results). You will also need to get organized by starting a job search binder where all your activities are logged and new information is kept. In addition, it is crucial to educate yourself regarding interviewing and salary negotiations before you meet employers. (Our workshops are a great way to do this.) You have to stand out! It will take most new graduates 3–10 months to find a job, so start early. For a graduate-level student, it may take longer.

Step 6: Launch Your Job Search

Ready? There are many activities involved in launching your job search. Writing a targeted resume is important to show employers how your skills relate to their specific needs. Set aside the time to make calls, write cover letters and thank you letters, conduct interviews, and do research. Be creative with the approaches you use and remember to ask yourself, "Will this help me to stand out from my competition?" Lastly, consistently update your resume with any new skills, knowledge, and experience.