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Self-performed 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 view your own competence through 20 competency figures from a "Focuser" to an "Optimist", terms used in real world recruitment. Find your own competency figure with its characteristic ways of acting, processing information, being suited to different work environments and viewing the world. 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, one's 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 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 actional competence derives from behavior driving motivations ie., what one wants to do and how one wants to act (see Lesson: What is motivation?). Are you a Focuser, Results seeker, Action leader, Influencer, Socializer, Advisor, Listener or Fol-lower of your own path? They all mark competence in some jobs. Everyone has a bit of each but it would be important to know which competency figure represents your best competence. Choose from the following eight figures one that is most characteristic of yourself and write 1 beside it and the second most characteristic figure and write 2 beside your choice.


1. Focuser - seeks high, 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-boundaried 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 the best effort in supervisory positions and in jobs involving control of others' conduct. Strongwilled, closes deals, direct feedback and conflict handling.

4. Influencer - leads others’ thoughts and impressions. Inspires others through ideas and presentations. Senses what’s going on in peoples 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 - guides and supports others. Actively offers 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 such as in training and education. User experience design.

7. Listener - 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 one's own path - walks one’s own path. Relies heavily on oneself. Holds on to one’s principles, withstands external pressure and 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, Practical or Big picture viewer, Analytic or Intuitive thinker, a Cautious or Quick decision maker? They all mark competence in some jobs. Everyone has a bit of each but it is important to know which competency figure represents your best competence. Choose from the following eight figures one that is most characteristic of yourself and write 1 beside it and the second most characteristic 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. Practical viewer - attends to practical realities. 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", best suited to action-centered jobs, to practical information & educational environments. Has feet on the ground, operative/tactical sense.

12. Big picture viewer - 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 overtheorizing, turning simple things into complicated ones. A ”thinker", best suited to planning-centered jobs, theoretical information & educational environments. Concept design, systems intelligence, 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 and 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 farfetched 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 decision maker - 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 decision maker - 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.


Suitabity to work environments and viewing one' success options derive from attitude to the surrounding world and oneself. Proponents of order feel at home in Stable and proponents of variety in Mobile work environments. Realists and Optimists reflect very different competencies. Are you a proponent of Order or Variety, a Realist or an Optimist? Choose from the following four figures one that is most characteristic of yourself and write 1 beside it and the second most characteristic figure and write 2 beside your choice.

17. Proponent of order - embraces regularity. Favors clear rules and expects the same from others. Feels good in STABLE work environments involving consistent processes and clearcut responsibilities. Best suited to jobs requiring detection of irregularities and errors cf. financial administration and process monitoring. Organized and cost aware, ”walker of the narrow path”.

18. Proponent of variety - embraces 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), ”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 competency figures. The big question in actional competence concerns your main work role: are you at your best as an Independent performer (figs. 1, 2), a Leader-influencer (figs. 3, 4) or as a Collaborator (figs. 5, 6, 7). They are all needed. The big question in information processing is whether your planning and problem solving tilts toward implementing (figs. 9,11, 13) or innovating things (figs. 10, 12, 14). The big picture comes to closure with the question if you feel best at home in Stable, organized (fig. 17) or in Mobile, variable (fig. 18) work environments and if your success viewings are based on Realism (figure 19) or Optimism (figure 20). Your most characteristic figures will guide you toward educational, occupational fields and jobs that you feel good in and give your best contribution.

Big picture of competence

Big picture of competence
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. WOPI draws a comprehensive and detailed competency portrait of you in relation to the same 20 competency figures (+ the 14 non-selected figures).

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


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