How to make career decisions in planning

Published on: 13 Mar 2014

Getting started, keeping going

Now The Planner is advertising jobs, how do you decide which ones to apply for?

Here are two seemingly conflicting pieces of advice: go through the information and only apply where you meet the essential requirements; or take a chance and make your next job something completely different.

But of course these aren’t really conflicting because both suggestions are about looking closely at the details and your own career history.

Applying for jobs, whether at the start or middle of your career, is where continuing professional development comes into its own. Keep a record of your projects, your achievements, and internships so you can map your history and behaviours to the needs of prospective employers.


Recently qualified

If you’ve recently qualified you may worry you don’t have the experience employers demand. This is a common fear and if it held everyone back there would be no experienced people today! So consider what your experience says about you. Jobs that supported you through university say you’re diligent and reliable.

Look at the words adverts use. These are key terms to help you decide how suited you are for the position. For a ‘lead role’ look how you’ve demonstrated initiative before. Perhaps your skills were commended in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Where the word ‘customer’ is used frequently you can point to relevant work in retail. Eventually you won’t need these examples, you’ll refer to bigger projects but for now these will help you fill a statement with meaningful information.

Of course your qualifications demonstrate expertise. Refer to case studies, placements, internships and your dissertation. Reap the benefit of all that hard work.


Changing jobs

Because you’re established doesn’t mean everything is settled. Maybe you want a change or anticipate changes at work. To be prepared maintain a record of your professional development. This is why CPD monitoring is important. The RTPI might call upon you to provide evidence of your development at any time so you should be ready to submit evidence. This also prepares you when you need to write an application. The potential employer will see that not only do you meet their criteria but have reflected on your experience.

A job advert may ask that you engage with stakeholders. Any application can confirm you deal with stakeholders but if you’ve maintained CPD you’ll have a reflective example: “I developed relationships with the community to include them in discussion. This resulted in a popular decision.”


Calling ahead

Writing a good application takes time so while you may want to try something different balance this against a realistic chance of getting an interview. Is the chance slim but the reward great? Is there another job application you should be spending time on? A portfolio of evidence to draw upon will help you make a good application. If you have the option to call ahead, find out if your application will not be considered then keep your powder dry for the next prospect.