Career Planning Guide

If you are confused or undecided about your career goal, it is time to do some career planning. This guide will take you through a step-by-step career planning process, with suggestions about online services and resources that will help you as you engage in this process.

NOTE: If you are a Clovis Community College student, currently in attendance, and need one-on-one assistance with career planning, contact the CCC Career Center. We offer a guided career planning process involving 4 sessions in the Career Center.

Why Plan?

Engaging in career planning is smart because it:

  • Helps you learn about yourself
  • Is useful in picking your major
  • Gets you thinking about how to spend your college years
  • Puts you in a good position to make good choices about internships and jobs
  • Allows you to focus your energy on identifying a career pathway that is right for you.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

  • There is no one, perfect career for anyone. There may be a number of career fields which will fit you and which you will find satisfying.
  • In any job, there will be aspects of the work that you like and some aspects that you don’t like. No job is perfect.
  • People can shape their own careers. Think not only about what careers might fit who you are, but how you can mold your job or work environment to fit your personal style and utilize your particular skills and strengths most productively.
  • Career planning is a lifelong process. Most people change careers a number of times throughout their lives. Therefore, it is important to learn what is involved in an effective career planning process. You may find yourself using this process again and again throughout your lifetime.
  • Career planning is part "happenstance". Planning will get you started and keep you going, but unplanned events and other life experiences will also play a role in the direction your career path takes. Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Remember, opportunities are sometimes disguised as setbacks. Keep a positive attitude; Make the most of unexpected events; keep your career options open; make mistakes and learn from them; and continue to learn and build your skills as long as you live.

Your Career Planning Portfolio

As you move through the career planning process, it is a good idea to maintain a “YOU” portfolio for future reference. This is a file folder or notebook (or even a box) where you can gather and keep the results of your career assessments and information about career fields of interest to you. Your portfolio is also a good place to keep college records and transcripts, examples of your accomplishments and achievements and other items that represent YOU and what you have to offer prospective employers and the world. Because career planning is a lifelong process, many people maintain a career planning portfolio throughout their work lives.

Overview: Steps to Career Planning

A diagram explaining the career planning cycle: Self explore, explore careers, make decisions, set goals, take action. All these things form the career planning cycle.

Career planning begins with YOU! What kind of a person are you? What is meaningful to you? Career self-assessments will help you explore who you are and suggest career options that might be fulfilling for you. Links to various online career assessments are shown on the following pages. Complete several of these assessments to get a well-rounded picture of your qualities and preferences. Before you begin, here are some things to keep in mind...

Eight Tips about Taking Career Assessments

  1. These assessments are about exploring who you are. There are no right or wrong answers. You will not be graded. These are simply tools that give you a way to look at yourself.
  2. Assessments can help you explore who you are and get ideas about career options that might fit you. They may be able to open your mind to possibilities that you hadn’t considered. They can even help you clarify what you want and give focus to your career planning. However, career assessments cannot tell you what to do or what to be. ONLY you can choose your career pathway.
  3. It is a good idea to take several of the following assessments, rather than just one. This will help you look at yourself in different ways. Compare the results of different assessments. Look for patterns and themes. For example, do several assessments suggest the same or similar career fields?
  4. Not every assessment suggested will appeal to you. Take a variety of assessments to increase your chances of engaging in a process of self-exploration that will fit you.
  5. As you do an assessment, be honest with yourself. Respond according to how you really are, not how you think you should be or how others think you should be. Don’t try to predetermine the results of the test. Genuine responses that fit YOU will give more accurate recommendations and results. And if your assessment results seem inaccurate, listen to yourself. Answering even a few questions inaccurately may give inaccurate recommendations.
  6. Notice that assessments do not measure future skills or knowledge. Nor do they measure attitude or motivation. Only YOU can make the effort to pursue and reach your career goals. Remember: "What you believe, you can achieve."
  7. You are unique! Assessments will give a broad idea of your qualities and preferences, but no test can capture the essence of who you are as a whole, complex, absolutely unique and special human being.
  8. Taking assessments is just the first step. You’re not finished with the self-exploration process until you’ve taken the time do some serious thinking and reflecting about yourself. What makes you like no one else? What special contributions do you have to give to the world? What is most meaningful to you?

Take Several Types of Assessments

Listed below are some assessments to help you with Self Exploration. Try to choose one or two assessments in each of these categories:

  • Personality Assessments
  • Interest Assessments
  • Abilities Assessments
  • Values Assessments
  • Skills Assessments

REMINDER: For future reference, remember to print and keep the results of your assessments in your Career Planning Portfolio (see Section I). When you have finished all of your assessments, you can compare the results and see if there are certain career themes or patterns that keep emerging. These recurring themes can suggest career pathways that might fit you.

Personality Assessments

Career planning is essentially a search for self and finding the answer to the question, "Who am I". Personality assessments can help you become more self-aware. They also offer insights into how you relate to the world and to other people. The results of some of these assessments may not point directly to career choices that might fit you, but they will give you ideas about what work environments might be most compatible with your personality. Taking one or two of the assessments below is a great place to start. Be sure to print out the results and put them in your career portfolio.

  • Identify your Holland Personality Type, also called your RIASEC type code, to find out how your personality preferences relate to interests and career fields. Visit and complete the assessment and View Jobs that match your 3-letter RIASEC code. Remember to print your results for future reference!
  • Take the free KTS-II Temperament Sorter at>
  • offers a free, informal personality quiz to introduce the popular MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) concepts of personality
  • Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? Take the Free Assessment

Interest Assessments

The things you like to do can help you identify career fields to explore. As you do an interest assessment, think about what you like or dislike doing, not about your ability to do it. Interest assessments help you identify preferences based on your likes and dislikes.

After you have completed an assessment, be sure to make the Career Connection! Find out what career fields might match your interests. Print out the results for future reference. It will be helpful to compare the results of different interest assessments and see if there is a pattern as to what occupations are suggested.

Complete the California Career Zone Interest Profiler

ACT Profile has an interest, values, and abilities assessment.

  1. Go to the website above
  2. Set up account
  3. Hover over the plans tab
  4. Click on inventories
  5. Click on get started
  6. Take inventories-interest, values, abilities
  7. Hover over the career tab and click on the career map
  8. Explore highlighted areas on the map and * star the careers you like so they will be saved in your summary
  9. Hover over the education tab and click on the major map to explore majors

Values Assessments

Values are guiding principles or motivators that indicate what you consider most important in your life. Your most important values are those that you prize the most, affirm publicly, choose freely after careful consideration and act upon consistently. Identifying your most important values will help you choose a career that will fulfill and be compatible with these values. To identify the characteristics of a job which are important to you...

Go to and complete the Work Importance Profiler

Skills Assessments

A skill is an activity that you have learned to do well or that you can improve upon through training and practice. What skills do you find most satisfying and enjoyable? These are the ones that you may wish to use in future work. Visit and complete the Skills Profiler.

What is there for you to do out there in the wide world of work? Explore options and possibilities before narrowing your choices. You may find a field that you hadn’t even considered that may be a good fit for you.

Explore industry sectors. This will give you a good understanding of how occupations are grouped by industry.

Once you've identified career fields that might be of interest to you, investigate them closely. Find out more about occupations suggested by your career self-assessments. There are many ways to gather information about career fields.

  1. Surf the Internet:
    • Visit O*Net Online: This huge database, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, which includes information on skills, abilities, knowledge, work activities, and interests associated with thousands of occupations.
    • Read Career Stories, first-person articles written by professionals in a variety of careers.
    • Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook: This is a nationally recognized source of career information published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Go to the Career Center:
    If you are a student at Clovis Community College, go to the Career Resource, AC2-174 and meet with a career counselor for individual help and further exploration.
  3. Do Informational Interviewing:
    To gather real-life information, interview people who work in fields that are of special interest to you.
  4. Learn about professions:
    • Read professional and trade journals or go online to professional association websites. You will find professional journals in the Clovis Community College and in public libraries
    • Watch Road Trip Nation: and see interviews with real people working in a wide variety of jobs
    • Visit Weddles Association Directory for links to numerous professional associations in the United States
  5. Volunteer:
    Gain work experience and learn new skills by helping others in your area of interest
  6. Serve an Internship or Work Part-Time:
    • Intern or work part-time in your prospective field
    • Looking for a job? If you are a CCC student or alumnus you may use our online job board at

Now it’s time to make a choice and make a plan. This is the point where you focus on a prospective career pathway, identify the related program of study or major and develop an educational plan that will get you started toward a fulfilling career.

If you are not yet ready to engage in the following decision-making steps, you may need to go back to earlier sections of this guide and do some additional self -assessment and career exploration. Be sure to give yourself time to review, compare assessment results and reflect upon the information you have gathered about yourself and potential career fields.

Steps in Decision Making

There are many effective ways to make a decision, and some that are not so effective. Here is a decision-making strategy that may help you:

  1. Define your goal.
  2. Identify options and possible choices
  3. Gather information about each option and think about the facts.
  4. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each choice.
  5. Reach a thoughtful choice that will satisfy both your head and your heart.
  6. Establish a plan of action. Decide what steps you will take, both short and long term, to reach your career goal.
  7. Re-evaluate your plan as needed. Your plan will evolve and change as opportunities arise and as things change in your life.

Remember, career planning is a lifelong process. You may need to go through some or all of the steps in this process again in the future, as you change or the world around you changes. Also keep in mind that career planning is part planning and part opportunity. Planning prepares you to take advantage of unexpected opportunities as they arise. So be flexible and ready for changes.