Computer Software for Career Planning Career Management Research Paper

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Computer Software for Career Planning

Career Management is a combination of structured management and active strategic planning for a professional career. Ostensibly, the outcome of successful career management should be a job that provides personal fulfillment, balance in one's work and life, actualization and goal achievement, as well as financial security. Because this is an active and strategic venture, beginning with setting goals and objectives, and following through with steps, detours, and possibly even reroutes during one's career lifecycle, harnessing the power of computers to help manage both data and direction is optimal. Career management software is, therefore, a combination of psychological assessments (e.g. Myer's-Briggs) to quick and informal overviews (Career Builder) to more summative and comprehensive like MyPath (Stenger, 2008).

Within the context of career counseling with the college or university system, the key is preparing the student to understand that career develop is a lifelong process; and inexorably tied in with other life skills and roles. This is difficult for many, who see a career as the culmination of the degree process, and unable to grasp the rather fuzzy lines of lifelong learning, potential career change, or the way their major or minor subjects may not provide the exact answer to career satisfaction. Career guidance must meet, and be able to explain, the various stages of career development and understanding the relationships between career choice and educational requirements is absolutely essential. This is true in two ways; the minimum requirements for some jobs -- but also that getting a "degree in management" will not necessarily put them on the path to be the next CEO of a Fortune 100 company (Zunker, 2006,450-6).

Fortunately, there are software applications to help with this. Whatever the software path one takes, the time-frame analysis is critical for the software application chosen, coupled with Internet research and online database integration. Short-term goal setting (1-2 years) is typically limited in scope, easier to formulate, less expensive, and less robust. Intermediate goals (3-5 years) tend to be less specific, and more open ended and tend to focus on experience transference and professional growth. Long-term (greater than 5 years) tends to be the most fluid. For many, lack of knowledge about potential opportunities (and pitfalls) makes it difficult to formulate long-term objectives; but are more easily modified once one gets an idea of the direction either within, or within an ancillary, are of interest and expertise. Nevertheless, a clear advantage to all stages of career planning comes from the careful and strategic use of the continually evolving appropriate software and data bases (Ibarra, 2003).

Introduction- While there is a clear difference between the paradigm of lifelong learning and the concept of adult education, there are in fact times in which one cannot have one without the other. Indeed, in order to form a society in which lifelong learning takes place in a robust and regular manner; one must have a population of literate, cogent adults who, through their process of education, continue to strive for an evolving level of actualization through knowledge, analysis and synthesis. This is an integral concept for Career Management since it embodies a number of ideas that should be a part of the adult's evolutionary career toolbox: change management, flexibility, a passion for lifelong learning, the desire to be retrained, and certainly the ability to reinvent and arrive at new and different truths based on experience and worldview (Maritainm, 1943, 1971). The responsibility of the actual learning, then, resides with the student, and emphasizes the importance of the student remaining actively involved in the process. The motivation for learning is based, in many ways, on Vygotsky's "Zone of proximal development" -- a theory that posits that learners are challenged in proximity to their current level of development, yet slightly above. By experiencing a successful completion of challenging activities, learners gain self-confidence and motivation, guiding them to even more complex challenges (Merrian, 2006). Knowing that both covert and overt societal changes necessitate flexibility, career management then simply becomes part of one's life; a larger template to help organize and structure personal and career development.

Additionally, career management takes into account that we have moved to an information and services economy, and that relationships have become an increasingly critical asset. Not only do these relationships help us with the tactical tasks (colleagues, vendors, customers and even competitors), they also become important sources about how different fields and industries are evolving. It is thus important to "manage" those connections, too, certainly software and technological applications can assist in that as well (Bourne, 2009)

The college counselor has various tools that can help students at all levels understand their responsibilities in career management and make a strategic assessment, leading to a plan that will help in the various types of programs offered in the college and university system. For instance:

Junior College -- Typically focused on short-term career or technical fields. Additionally, might focus on 4-year degree plans and path toward first professional job.

Four-Year College without Masters -- Short or medium term; depending on type of career and what additional education or training necessary.

Four-Year College with Masters -- Some careers (education, for instance) can start with a BA, but usually require a Masters to move ahead; medium term planning.

PhD Program -- Long-term professional plans; either academic or pure research; if more research oriented, medium term planning to allow for most expeditious pathway.

Post-Bac. Degrees and Programs -- mid-life change in career plans, new career, or developing new skills for alternative paths or certification (Luzzo, 2000).

Short-Term Career Management Software- Short-term career management often focuses on the more tactical side of one's career choices, the basics of career choice, and the idea of path. Counselors should suggest software solutions for this stage that deal with information about one's overall "fit" within several career choices, tools to assess whether one is ready for a certain path, and essentially discovery about one's overall immediate goals. This will help the student with more immediate feedback and the time to adjust subject matter or career expectations sooner if needed.

CareerPath.com -- This online program offers a number of basic career tests that provide one with a better self-view and assessment of skills, interests, and overall predispositions towards certain careers or positions within a career field. Testing methodologies are rather general, but help to clarify interests, match skills and competencies to specific job types, identify work style and strong points, direct the individual to jobs that specifically align with interests and skill sets, and guide the individual in the beginning stages of one's career path or educational pursuit. Much of the data is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (About Career Path, 2011).

Time Management -- Many students have great trouble with time management skills while in school, and certainly need to adjust those prior to moving into the working world. In fact, one former professor, and now college student again, noted, "The key to succeeding at college is effort and good planning. If you plan your time well, " you will succeed (Nathan, 2005). Additionally, part of the beginning stages of career development focus on goal setting and time management, often overlooked by professionals who think they already know this information. Software solutions can help the individual to develop a clear career vision, write goals, and create a basic goal setting plan. Some examples of GTD (Getting Things Done) software include Nozbe, Achieve Planner, or Smartsheet. The use of these alone or in combination is entirely dependent on whether one wants to manage time, tasks, schedules, or self -- or a combination (Time Management Software, 2011).

Medium Term Career Management Software- Medium term career management is less tactical and begins to focus more on the larger picture -- what does the student need to do in order to get where they want in 3-5 years -- the development aspect. This may involve additional training and education, it may involve a broader spectrum of possibilities, and in order to remain satisfied and actualized, it most definitely involves a bit more individual psychological management. Some colleges offer classes in career management for seniors to ease the stress of moving into the working world or moving on with education and training. In either case, Medium Term Management is about building bridges and finding the right fit (Gardner and Van Der Veer, 1998).

Insala Talent Development Solutions -- Because this software is online, it enables executives to interact more effectively from updated databases. The efficacy of this program is three-tiered: career development, mentoring, and career organization. It uses both customized solutions and performance driven algorithms to help individuals and organizations manage, create, and even plan for succession (Performance Management, 2011).

SumTotal Career Development Systems -- takes a broad, global approach to career development by actively working with employees to provide career advancement, to drive succession, and to increase engagement and productivity. The individual takes control of their own career with guided…[continue]

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