What is “career design” and why is it important?

When it comes to your career, how satisfied do you feel? Are you happy to go to work in the morning? Does the idea of Monday morning bring joy and excitement, or fear and disappointment?

At the heart of career design is a challenge: to design a career that brings you not only satisfaction, but supports your wellbeing.

Satisfaction at work

If you’re unsatisfied with your job, you’re not alone. According to Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, just 6% of Japanese workers report being engaged with their workplace. Workplace engagement is often a measure of how satisfied employees are at work; it measures not just happiness but wellbeing, and how emotionally invested workers are with their company.

It’s an important statistic to capture, and it’s telling. Globally, employee engagement is at just 15%. This is bad news for the global economy. If employee engagement is the sign of a healthy workforce, the opposite is true for the unengaged: higher rates of absenteeism, lower productivity and profitability, and more likely to look for other opportunities.

So does it matter if you’re satisfied with your job? Absolutely. Not only for your own physical and mental wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of your company and your colleagues.

How to design your own career path

One antidote for an unsatisfying career is career design. This is the proactive planning of your career path -- whether it be by small daily changes or big overarching modifications.

There are three main phases to career design.

Step 1: Reflect

It’s important to reflect regularly on the trajectory of your current career and think in not just the short term, but the long term as well. This will help in the planning stage to determine your next career move.

Some helpful questions to ask yourself include:

  • What do I want most in a job?
  • What specific parts of my job bring me joy?
  • What do I like the least about my job?
  • Is this job bringing me closer to the job I want in the future?

It may be helpful at this stage to ask people you trust questions about your strengths and weaknesses at work. Often, other people can provide insight into ourselves that we cannot see.

Step 2: Plan

Once you’ve taken the time to evaluate the current status of your career, it’s time to plan. Sometimes, your next step will require big changes: perhaps it’s time to look for a new job, or maybe even an entirely new career path. But others may require only small tweaks to your current role to make a difference.

Regardless of whether your required actions are big or small, it’s a good idea to write down your overarching aim, your next steps, and how to know whether you’ve achieved what you set out to achieve. Try using the SMART method: make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Step 3: Execute

Of course, all this work is for nothing if you don’t put into action what you’ve discovered. Remember that you don’t need to do all of this straight away; in fact, in some situations, a slow, measured plan of action is more beneficial than rash decisions. For example, if you’ve realised you’ll need to totally retrain in order to move towards a different career path, it is better to do so when you are financially secure. If you need to look for a new job, it is better to do so when you’ve already got a steady income.

Career design is not a static process; it’s dynamic and ongoing. Through constant reflections and small tweaks here and there, it is possible to build a career that’s not only satisfying, but gets you excited to go to work everyday. Not only is this of benefit to your health and happiness, but it’ll make you a better colleague, more supportive boss, and a productive member of society.

Let us help you find the right job