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Career Planning

Career Planning
Man standing and looking at whiteboard, rear view (Stockbyte / Getty Images)

Scottish author Samuel Smiles had no idea what he was starting when he self-published a modest little book called "Self-Help" in 1859. His discourse on education, independence and personal perseverance became a Victorian-era bestseller.

Nowadays it's easy to become overwhelmed by the overflow of career services, websites and self-help books. But very few stand out from the crowd of authors and pundits vying for our attention.

Self-help Guides
For more than 40 years, people all over the world have turned to "What Color is Your Parachute" (Ten Speed Press, August 2010) for advice on not only job hunting but finding your passion in times of boom and bust. Updating his book annually to add information relevant to the present-day job market, career guru Richard N. Bolles has sold over 10 million copies in 20 languages.

Among the basic questions the book addresses are: What are the five best (and worst) ways to search for a job? What interview questions can you expect to be asked and how should you answer them? How do you determine what your best skills are?

But the Bolles bestseller is by no means the only such book at your disposal. Some are quite specific, like "The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century" (Island Press, November 1998) by Kevin Lee Doyle, which discusses major trends, salary ranges and other aspects of 11 green careers. If you don't quite fit into a particular mold, maybe "The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People" (Ten Speed Press, March 2007) by Carol Eikleberry is more your style.

Surf the Web
There are thousands of job sites on the Internet,, Yahoo! Hot Jobs and among them. Besides traditional job postings, advice and resources, CareerBuilder also offers online career tests for those who are just entering the job market, considering a career switch or curious to know if their chosen path is right for them. Under such headings as "Best Companies to Work For" and "Top Global Companies," offers links to jobs all over the world and to companies currently hiring.

While using one or more of the well-known sites makes perfect sense, also examine niche sites that focus on a specific industry. For example, sports industry jobs are the focus at and

There's an App for That
Job searching has been made easier with a variety of mobile apps. has a free iPhone app with full website functionality and built-in geolocation technology. The 99-cent "Craiglist Pro" app allows users to search for jobs in every city on Craigslist and dial numbers directly from listings.

Job Finder's mobile app also costs 99 cents and is compatible with iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch and iPad. The app aggregates listings from multiple job sites and organizes them into more than 70 categories. Another useful (and free) career-building app is "Interview Prep Questions," which includes an array of flash-card type questions that would-be employers might ask.  

Stay Connected
"Networking is the most powerful tool of job-hunting," said Dr. Randall Hansen, founder and publisher of Quintessential Careers. "Job-seekers should be spending more time on networking than any other job-search activity. It's through networking that job-seekers uncover unpublicized job openings and other valuable job leads and insider information about employers."

While Hansen believes that the best networking is still done face-to-face, he said that job-seekers should also consider websites such as LinkedIn (and even Facebook) for building and maintaining networks. "The strongest people in your network are those with whom you share a common bond."

Keeping an open mind is a key component to networking and job seeking, according to CareerBuilder spokesperson Jennifer Grasz. "We have consistently found, of those who were laid off in the last year and found new jobs, around half found them in entirely different fields." 

Hansen added that building an online presence is important. He believes everyone should buy their own domain (one that incorporates their name) and then use this personal website to build their brand. "The job-search paradigm is shifting," said Hansen. "And it's shifting to employers using Google (and other search engines) to find prospective candidates — rather than candidates finding them."

— Julia Clerk, Custom Publishing Writer