Self-Assessment Career Exploration Your Career Growth Plan
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The first step in developing career goals is to assess your own personal characteristics--your skills and interests, your likes and dislikes, and your strengths and weaknesses. You may then match your "profile" to a specific job or career goal. You may also want to identify aspects of your present and past jobs that will help you determine your career goals such as

  • Traits or skills that are required.
  • Aspects of the previous jobs you liked and disliked.
  • Skills you have developed through education, jobs, hobbies, volunteer work, clubs, employee organizations, and the like.
  • Training you've had that can be applied to future jobs.
  • Specific areas of your performance appraisals that have
    been rated above or below satisfactory.
  • Your willingness to relocate or work other than a normal work shift.
  • Personal time and effort you are willing to commit to preparing for career advancement.
Outside Resources
Most community colleges offer free counseling services. College career centers will work with you individually or in a group setting to aid in self-evaluation, career choice, job search, and interview techniques. An interest inventory is a typical tool used by career counselors to help you understand your work interests in general and to show you various kinds of work in which you may be successful.

Career Exploration
Once you have determined your skills, strengths, and interests, you can use various tools to explore and identify the career areas that "fit" your profile.

Career Ladders
Career ladders identify opportunities for possible career change or promotion from one job classification to another. The career ladders pullout, in the center of this handbook, displays the promotion and potential transfer patterns for most classifications used by the Board.

Classification Specifications
Classification specifications ("specs") provide specific information on the scope of duties, typical tasks, and minimum qualifications for state civil service classifications. You may obtain these specs from the Board's Transactions Section by calling 916-445-3048 or on the State Personnel Board website at

People in Fields That Interest You
An excellent way to research a career field is to talk with individuals who are working in that field. Most people are happy to talk about the kind of work they do, and people who are performing the job can often provide you a more realistic description of what the job is really like. Explain that you are exploring your career options and are considering their field as a possible career. Ask them for an honest assessment of their job, such as the pros and cons of the work, the most rewarding features, and the most frustrating aspects.

Other Resources
The Bureau of Labor Statistics O*NET Online website at is a database with information on the knowledge, abilities, work activities, and interests associated with more than 950 occupations. You can find which jobs fit with your skills and experience and explore career profiles using the latest available labor market data.

Your Career Growth Plan
It is important that you construct your own career growth plan, since only you can decide what career or job environment interests you. Although developing this plan is your responsibility, we encourage you to enlist the guidance and assistance of other resource people. Most important are your supervisor or staff in the Board's EEO Office or Personnel Management Division.

Setting Your Career Goal
Your goal should represent what you ultimately hope to accomplish. This goal may be to obtain a specific position or to work in a specific career field. When you set your career goal, set a reasonable time frame indicating when you would like to reach your career goal. Your career goal may include a job that you're now qualified for as well as a job you want to qualify for in the future. However, keep in mind that your career goal should be realistic and attainable-one that is reachable through your ongoing developmental efforts.

Developing a Plan of Action
Develop a plan of activities to reach your goal. Think of this plan as a step-by-step statement of the specific activities needed to reach your goal-in the order in which they should be completed. These activities or objectives should focus on enhancing your education, skills, knowledge, or experience and should be measurable and tailored to achieve your specific career goal. You must be able to recognize when you are working toward your goal and when your goal has been accomplished. Be specific and set dates. You may also consider scheduling a meeting with someone that you believe can provide you constructive feedback on your plan.

Obtaining Approvals
Your plan may require the approval of your supervisor and the coordination and assistance of other units and supervisors because of the possible need for release time, funding, or other considerations. Based on the provisions of the applicable bargaining unit contract, you may be eligible to receive reimbursement from the state for an upward mobility program or for job-related or career-related training costs, including tuition and course-required books. With prior authorization from your supervisor, you may also be given release time for career-related or upward mobility training.

Pursuing Your Plan
The personal development aspects of a career development plan can be successful only if you are committed to the plan. You should be prepared to commit a portion of your own time and effort to accomplish this plan. Completing your planned work experience and/or training activities is your responsibility. You'll need to seek help when necessary, be flexible, and periodically reassess your career development plan.

The University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, has developed a thorough career development manual that can lead you from assessing yourself and the occupational market through job search and acceptance. Check out their Steps to Career/Life Planning Success website

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Developing Your Career

Preparing Your Resume

Classification Specifications
Examination Information
Mobility In Civil Service
Conclusion / Resources