Four Key 'Steps' for Successful Career Development & Transitions

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Four Key 'Steps' for Successful Career Development & Transitions

Have you been thinking of making a career change but not sure where to begin? Career development and, in particular, career transitions should be a series of small steps toward your goal/s, rather than one big leap.

Career development is not one event. It is a process that takes time and made up of many ‘steps’. The length of time is specific to an individual.

So where does effective career development begin?

1) Self-Awareness:

Before making any career decisions or transitions, it is important for an individual to develop a strong understanding and awareness of who they are first and foremost. This includes an individual’s ability to:

  • Identify their personality, interests, values, personal motivations, preferences and goals.
  • Identify their skills, abilities, knowledge, experience and key areas of expertise.
  • Identify their natural strengths and areas requiring further development.

Career development should always begin with Self- Awareness. Often individuals do not understand who they are, what their natural strengths are, what motivates them etc. and find themselves in roles and work environments that are completely misaligned to who they are. This leads to career dissatisfaction and burnout, leaving professionals feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

2) Opportunity Awareness:

Once a person has developed strong self-awareness, they must next explore and understand the world of work and the various opportunities that align well with who they are. Opportunity Awareness includes an individual’s ability to:

  • Research and identify what opportunities suit them best.
  • Know where to find such opportunities.
  • Understand labour market information.
  • Understand employment trends, position / industry requirements and different options or pathways available to them.
The DOTS model of Career Development was originally developed by Bill Law and Tony Watts of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling in 1976. The DOTS model is a cyclical planning process, with the logical order commencing with Self Awareness, followed by Opportunity Awareness, Decision Making and Transitions

3) Decision Making:

Decision Making builds upon Self-Awareness and Opportunity-Awareness. It focuses on an individual using their knowledge from the previous two stages to decide on effective career directions and actions. It includes an individual’s ability to:

  • Evaluate where one is at and where they could be heading.
  • Set short-, medium- and long-term goals.
  • Plan and develop action plans.
  • Decide on the most appropriate and valuable option.

4) Transitions

To make a career goal a reality, an individual needs to take appropriate action to transition to where they want to go. Taking action can include an individual’s ability to:

  • Develop networks.
  • Understand effective job search techniques to secure work.
  • Use relevant vacancy information, including ways of accessing the hidden job market.
  • Write good job applications.
  • Interview well.
  • Transition to the next stage of their career, whether that be an internship, employment, further study or creating their own opportunity.

These 4 stages are known as the DOTS model of career development which can be used at any stage of your career and can adapt to changes in aspirations, directions and circumstances throughout your life.

The DOTS model provides a framework that guides individuals to explore and understand their own career development, as well as developing skills and knowledge to ensure a successful and satisfying career.