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Self-directed career planning

The need to plan one's career may arise in many situations. Seeking for an educational path, entering and progressing on one's work career, starting a new career or merely developing one's competence are situations which call for exploring one's career and competence. You can examine your competence through "20 Experts in work" from a Quality seeker to an Optimist, so as described in real world recruitment. Find your personal expert with typical ways of doing things, planning and viewing the world and oneself. Make your choices on the following text or download the corresponding PDF form. See also: Basic competencies at work.


Ponderings about one's work career emerge as part of normal development in teenage years or in early adulthood at the latest. Experiences from school, family traditions, role models and advice constitute the basis for young people in making choices about education and occupation. External influences such as peer pressure, social desirability and timely fads may also strongly affect one's choices. Therefore, an important part of planning one's career is also excluding educational and occupational fields that appear less suitable to oneself. Many people don't have any greater difficulty in making choices but some people experience major uncertainty about their occupational direction and can make significant changes during their studies or early work years.

Digitalization is currently disrupting the work life. Changes in jobs, occupations and competencies lead people even in established work careers to examine their careers and competencies. Increasing are also situations where individuals in middle of their work careers feel that their current or foreseeable tasks don't meet with their basic competencies, characteristic or desired ways of thinking and doing things. Mismatches in the current job may also concern specific competencies or work domains. Awareness of one's characteristic behavior and thinking tendencies can provide solutions to such situations. Besides excluding less suitable work fields, it can also lead to discovery of new competency potentials. The disruption of work, touching upon nearly everyone, has also made career planning an important part of well-being at work.


Behavioral or action competence derives from behavior driving motivations, what one wants to do and how one wants to act (see Lesson: What is motivation?). Are you a Quality or a Results seeker, an Action or Thought leader, a Socializer, Advisor, Listener or Follower of your own path? They all represent competence in certain jobs. Everyone is a bit of each but it is important to know which expert types represent your own best competence. From the following eight experts, choose the one that best characterizes your behavior and write number 1 beside it. Then, choose also your second most characteristic and write 2 beside your choice.

1. QUALITY SEEKER - a focuser who seeks high and flawless quality. Concentrates on the task at hand and wants to take it into finish before moving on to new things. Proceeds along even, controlled steps and spends time in doing so. Gives the best effort in professional or supporting roles in technical or otherwise clear-cut jobs. Precision, withstands routines, goes the extra mile.

2. RESULTS SEEKER - seeks for sizeable, "big" results. Sets high goals and competes with self/others. Seizes opportunities and proceeds along long, risk taking, corner cutting and hasty steps. Gives the best effort as an entrepreneur or a professional in results oriented, loose-boundaried jobs. Takes on activities with highest payoff, doesn't spend time on details.

3. ACTION LEADER - leads others' action. Sets direction to others, gives instructions and orders. Proceeds along determined, straightforward steps. Demanding, overpowers others' resistance and is sometimes bossy. Gives one's best effort in supervisory positions and in jobs involving control of others' conduct. Strong-willed, closes deals, direct feedback and conflict handling.

4. THOUGHT LEADER - an influencer who leads others' thoughts and impressions. Inspires others through ideas and presentations. Senses what's going on in people's minds and presents uplifting visions. Gives the best effort in supervisory roles and in influencing, marketing things before audiences. Presentation and displaying skills, trend identification and brand design.

5. SOCIALIZER - forms and fosters relations. Friendly, carefree and easily approachable. An information sharing "spokesperson" keeping others posted on things. Gives his/her best effort in professional and supporting work roles centered at direct, face-to-face communication. Networker, organizer of social events, melter of ice.

6. ADVISOR OF OTHERS - guides and supports others. Actively offers his/her advice and instructions to others. Assumes responsibility over others, an empathetic mentor. Gives the best effort in professional, supporting or supervisory roles centered at direct, face-to-face advisory and guidance as in training and education. User experience design.

7. LISTENER TO OTHERS - listens to, serves others. Relies heavily on others and takes care of others' needs even at the expense of his/her own interest, a "right hand" to another. Gives the best effort in professional and supporting roles centered at direct, face-to-face listening to others, cf. customer service and care jobs. Depth interviewing, customer experience design.

8. FOLLOWER OF OWN PATH - walks one's own path. Relies heavily on oneself. Holds on to one's principles, withstands external pressure and is less influenced by others. Gives one's best effort in jobs calling for steadfastness as in purchasing, security, inspection, high-pressure negotiation and conflict resolution. Withstands majority/cross pressures, an external problem solver.


Processing of information or planning and problem solving is driven by one's ways of thinking (see also Lesson: What are ways of thinking?). As a planner and problem solver, are you Fact-based or an Idea generator, a viewer of the Practical or Complex picture, Analytic or Intuitive thinker, a Cautious or a Quick implementer? They all represent competence in some jobs. Everyone is a bit of each but it is important to know which expert types represent your own best competence. From the following eight experts, choose the one that best characterizes your planning and problem solving and write 1 beside it. Then, choose your second most characteristic expert and write 2 beside your choice.

9. FACT-BASED - favors well-proven approaches. Approaches things based on tried facts with the downside of shutting eyes from new ideas and openings. A "doer", best suited to action-centered practical jobs where things are known and to jobs where facts must be attended to. Has feet on the ground, spots shaky ideas.

10. IDEA GENERATOR - favors novel approaches. Approaches things by seeking for new ideas and openings. Looks at things from an original, creative standpoint with the downside of bypassing facts. A "thinker", best suited to jobs requiring new ideas, to content production and planning jobs. Creativity, product/service design.

11. VIEWER OF THE PRACTICAL PICTURE - directs attention to visible practical matters. Focuses attention on concrete things that meet the eye and doesn't spend time in theorizing. Is able to simplify, "wrap up" complicated things with the downside of bypassing true complexity. A "doer" and best suited to action-centered jobs, to practical information & educational environments. Has feet on the ground, operative/tactical sense.

12. VIEWER OF THE COMPLEX PICTURE - attends to complex wholes. Focuses attention on things beyond the concrete and what meet the eye. Delineates contexts, causes and effects of things with the downside of over-theorizing, turning simple things into complicated ones. A "thinker", thus best suited to planning-centered jobs, theoretical information and educational environments. Concept design, systems intelligence and strategic sense.

13. ANALYTIC THINKER - rationality and logic. Comes up with rational, standard solutions which is competence in logical processes (material processes). In irregular processes (people processes) this may lead to mechanistic, "by-the-book" solutions. Best suited to information and educational environments which involve measurement, calculation, quantities, cf. technical + natural science studies. Objectivity, graph reading, math skills.

14. INTUITIVE THINKER - instinct and feeling. Comes up with instinct driven, potentially disruptive and at best creative solutions addressing the situation's unique features which may be far-fetched and work poorly in practice. Sense of irregular, whimsical processes (people processes). Best suited to information & educational environments involving interpretation and qualitative data, cf. humanities and art studies. Creativity, sense of nuances.

15. CAUTIOUS IMPLEMENTER - contemplates and ascertains. Implements things with caution and taking due time which is competence in jobs requiring judgment, research or involving critical consequences with the downside of procrastination and being late, "missing the train". A "thinker", best suited to jobs capitalizing on sound judgment and decision preparation and to planning-centered jobs. Risk awareness, "better safe than sorry".

16. QUICK IMPLEMENTER - quickly seizes opportunities. Implements things quickly and by taking risks. Moves quickly from one thing to another, may skip details and act hastily. This marks competence in competitive environments. A "doer", best suited to quick-tempoed, action-centered jobs which require alert responding and risk taking. Action orientation, gets quickly down to business, doesn't remain sitting on things.


Individuals' ways of viewing the world and oneself derive from different attitudes. Proponents of order feel at home in Stable work environments while proponents of variety enjoy Mobile work environments. Realists and Optimists have different success expectancies needed in different jobs. Are you a proponent of Order or of Variety, a Realist or an Optimist? From the two experts in work environments choose the more characteristic, 17 or 18 and write 1 beside it. Then, from the two experts along success expectancies, choose the more characteristic, 19 or 20 and write also 1 beside it.

17. PROPONENT OF ORDER - favors regularity. Favors clear rules and expects the same from others. Feels good in STABLE work environments involving consistent processes and clear-cut responsibilities. Best suited to jobs requiring detection of irregularities and errors cf. financial administration and process monitoring. Organized and cost aware, organization person, "walker of the narrow path".

18. PROPONENT OF VARIETY - favors the new and varied. Favors variety, scans for new terrains. Feels good in MOBILE work environments involving variety and surprises. Best suited to mobile and creative work. Adapts to situations and tolerates ambiguity, cf. expatriate jobs and creative work. Variety seeking can be behavioral (adventurer) or informational (creativity), free soul, "grass is greener on the other side".

19. REALIST - aware of limited resources. Has only a partial belief in success. Realistic in appraisals, detects problems, risks and obstacles and doesn't beautify things: "there is no free lunch". The "glass is half empty" philosophy may also lead to underestimation of odds. Best suited to jobs that require awareness of risks and resources cf. rescue and judicature occupations. Problem awareness, cost-benefit analysis.

20. OPTIMIST - strong belief in success. Has a strong belief in success. Energetic, action spirited and carefree, cf. "problem out of sight, out of mind". Becomes excited and jumps fearlessly into new things. The "glass is half full" philosophy may also lead to skipping of problems and overestimation of odds. Suited to many kind of jobs which call for zeal and spiritedness.


For the big picture (see below), examine the broader contexts behind your chosen experts. The question in behavioral or action expertise indicates your main work role: are you at your best as an Independent performer (1, 2), a Leader-influencer (3, 4) or as a Collaborator (5, 6, 7). They are all needed in work life. The question in information processing is whether your planning and problem solving leans more toward implementing things (9,11, 13) or, innovating them (10, 12, 14). The big picture comes to closure with the question whether you feel best at home in Stable, orderly (17) or in Mobile, variety providing (18) work environments. And finally, are your success expectations based more on Realism (19) or Optimism (20). Your most characteristic expert figures will guide you toward educational, occupational fields and jobs that you feel good in and where you can give your best contribution.

Big picture

Big picture
As continuation, you may request a certified career coach for a feedback session on your choices. You may also fill out the standardized 224 item WOPI test used in real life recruitment. It generates a comprehensive and detailed portrait of the same experts while also shedding light on the potentially important but non-chosen experts.

As an alternative to the freely downloadable pdf form, you may choose to use a payable "20 Experts in work" card pack as your tool in career planning. The colorful, laminated cards can also be used for captivating and playful team building exercises where team members make guesses on each others' competencies. The card pack serves as a good development tool in a variety of situations eg., in forming work pairs.


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