Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Career Planning Tips

        Money | Getting a Job

Question Yourself

Finding a fruitful and rewarding career path requires looking beyond salary figures. Give an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses. Do you have good communication skills? Can you quickly master new software programs? Think about where you'd like to work -- do you want to work in a major metropolis, a home office or a foreign country? Consider your qualifications and work history -- maybe you have a degree, an internship or previous work experience in a given field. Account for your personal values -- do you want more time to spend with friends and family? Do you value job security above all else?

Whether you're just beginning your working life or changing careers, do some reconnaissance first. Resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a publication from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, provide overviews of the responsibilities, required skills, salaries and other information for hundreds of occupations. Consult a career services department at your college or through your state's labor department. Contact companies that interest you and schedule an informational interview (a meeting intended to gather industry and career information).