Career Development Process

Many of us stumble into a career doing less research than when we make a major purchase. When buying a car, most of us do research, compare prices, shop around, and talk to people. Our careers last longer than most vehicles. We owe it to ourselves to devote time and effort to choosing a career or making a career change. One way to do this is through the career development process.

What do we mean by “career development process”?

Career development is:

  • an ongoing, lifelong process
  • an active process; we must be the driving force behind the process, gathering information, setting goals, and making decisions
  • an introspective process of self-assessment and reflection
  • a time-consuming process
  • a holistic process, which integrates our changing needs, wants, relationships, and situations with the ever-changing world of work

Below is a model of the career development process:

Career Development Process Model


"Who am I?" If you’ve been thinking about your career path and know you want a career change you may wonder: “Where do I start?” Typically, this process starts with self-assessment. Understanding who you really are is critical to effective career planning. Breaking this down can be helpful:

  • Skills—what skills do I have? And which do I really enjoy using? Just because you’re good at something doesn’t necessarily mean you like doing it.
  • Interests—what excites me? What interests me enough that I don’t realize the passage of time while I am engaged in it?
  • Values—what things do I believe in? What motivates me to work?
  • Personality—who am I? What are my personal preferences?

Knowing the answers to these questions and having a deep understanding of who we are helps us in our career planning. We can use this information to evaluate possible careers or career changes, look for opportunities, and find greater satisfaction in other areas of our lives as well.


Once you have done some self-assessment, you can move to researching and exploring the world of work. This exploration may include informational interviews, online and library research, volunteering, or other activities that allow you to learn about various occupations.

Set goals

From your self-assessment and exploration you should have a clearer idea of what you are looking for. Now is the time to set some goals. This includes identifying specific action steps that will move you forward.


Sometimes people get stuck looking for the “perfect” action step. Remember that any step forward is an accomplishment.

Because this process is a cycle, after taking action you should re-assess how your plan is going. You may need to alter your goals a bit. Perhaps you stumble across a different occupational path that appears to be a better fit for you. Use this information to ensure your path is taking you where you really want to go.

Your first action: Make an appointment or register for a workshop.