Assessing career goals and career strategy

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My studies have helped me focus more on my career goals when I graduate. In the future, I would like to be engaged in a career in human resource and strategic management. For now, I am seeking opportunities for internship in a company that would provide me with some basic experiences to apply what I have learned from my courses so far.

After graduation, my goal is to secure a job in the field of human resource management while looking into the possibility of further studies for specialization in the field. Before I go back to China, I would like to be able to gain both work experience and academic knowledge here in the UK.

Cameron (2009) presented a model to guide aspirants of successful careers that is founded on positive thinking. The first step is knowing oneself and that includes one's skills, strengths and weaknesses. Once that is achieved, the aspirant searches for potential employers whose organization will benefit from the aspirant's skills. Next is being able to present oneself professionally with evidence of such skills. In time, the aspirant will gain more knowledge and experience and he will be able to present himself successfully.

I believe that Cameron's model will be able to help me chart my career and this career portfolio assignment is a good start. It will comprise the first step of knowing myself through self-analysis by reflecting on my own skills, strengths and weaknesses. This assignment will also plan out my strategy in finding potential employers and how I can present myself professionally to them to increase my chances of being accepted for internship.

Industry/Sector analysis

Knowing about the industry one wants to join entails careful study and analysis. Human resource management (HRM) is the field I want to specialize in someday and this portion will highlight what HRM is all about.

HRM has been ascribed an essential role in achieving the goals of organizations. Its rise had important implications on the recognition of workers. The competencies of employees have been given more notice in recruitment and selection as well as in training and development (Van Marrewijk & Timmers, 2003). Its strategic position as a sounding board for top management and facilitator and change agent in the restructuring and transformation processes of the company is equally balanced with its role as an important partner for employees. "Thus, the HRM function positions itself in two ways: as the architect of new organizational structures and work systems, and as coach in management development processes and companion of employees in turnaround processes" (Van Marrewijk & Timmers, 2003, p.174)

HRM is also in charge of performance appraisals of the people working for the organization. Stone (2002) defines it as a vital tool for strategy execution by "providing a dynamic link to employee recruitment, selection, training and development, career planning, compensation and benefits, safety and health and industrial relations" (p.264). Further, Stone explains:

It signals to managers and employees what is really important; it provides ways to measure what is important; it fixes accountability for behaviour and results; and it helps in improving performance. Finally, performance appraisal is necessary to defend the organisation against individuals who legally challenge the validity of management decisions relating to promotions, transfers, salary changes ,and, termination (p. 264)

Being aware of people's needs and skills, HRM goes beyond the appraisals and attempt to develop them professionally. Employee development has been identified as key to improving overall organizational effectiveness. Jacobs and Washington (2003) have defined it as thus:

Employee development refers to an integrated set of planned programs, provided over a period of time, to help assure that all individuals have the competence necessary to perform to their fullest potential in support of the organization's goals (p. 344).

In sum, Dessler (2002) encapsulates HRM as the business development strategy based on the requirements of the rational allocation of human resources in a planned way, the enterprise employees through recruitment, training, use, evaluation, motivation, adjustment and a series of processes, mobilise the enthusiasm of the staff, play staff's potential, creating value for enterprises to ensure that corporate strategic objectives.

Knowing that HRM covers a wide range of tasks and responsibilities, an aspirant wanting to enter the field should be adept in many areas. The following section focuses on the role of the human resource manager.

Role analysis

The HRM is bestowed a number of responsibilities to help make the organization more effective. Firstly, it deals with the concerns of personnel, as it recruits and allocates people to the appropriate positions in the company based on their qualifications. They are in charge of the employee's training and development as well as the evaluation of their performance. This will determine increases in their remuneration. Dessler (2002) adds that the human resource manager creates a conducive, creative and harmonious work environment where all the employees are aware of company policies and procedures. He sees to it that employee morale is kept high and that their health and well-being are optimized. Having efficient and happy employees who enjoy productive and harmonious relationships with co-workers is key to the maximization of results for the organization.

The important role of the human resource manager calls for a multitude of people skills and a high rate of emotional intelligence to be able to manage the responsibilities that go with the job. Following Cameron's model, the next part evaluates how my own qualities and skills will fit into the role of the human resource manager.

Critical evaluation of strengths and development needs

As an adult student, I know I am at the threshold of choosing a career path where I will find my fulfilment. The world suddenly seems too big for me and I am faced with endless possibilities. I know that even if I finish my education, I will continue to be a learner. My hunger for knowledge and new skills is unquenchable. I see that as a positive trait.

I am mostly interested in people. I am drawn to learning about people and how they work together towards a particular goal. I know that I get along well with people. I had positive experiences with people of diverse backgrounds and personalities. On the other hand, since I am so into learning more about them, I become too easy to manipulate. It is difficult for me to say 'no'. I guess that makes me likeable but at the same time, I end up doing more favours to others than I can handle.

It takes a certain kind of leader to become an efficient human resource manager. In this age when leaders easily fall into corruption, I still believe that a leader should be strong enough to hold on to his integrity and values. I believe money cannot buy everything. Being able to motivate people is one important trait of a good human resource manager. Knowing that my own experiences in motivation become a strength for me because I know I will not be easily swayed by material rewards and some employees may be the same. Apart from monetary rewards, I know how to encourage people to do better by calling on their strengths and giving them opportunities to be put to good use.

One weakness of mine is decision-making because I have the tendency to consider so many things before I come up with a decision. I usually end up delaying making a final decision until it's too late. I know I have to learn to be more decisive by knowing how to weigh things better. The rational reasons need to be balanced with the emotional outcomes.

Time management is also a challenge for me. I am a very active learner and need to move around. I feel fulfilled when I get to do many things at once. However, I know that when I get engrossed in a certain activity, I forget about the time. I need to learn more time management techniques so I can meet all my short term as well as long term life goals.

Knowing my own skills, strengths and personality gives me confidence that I will be able to fit into the future role in the field of human resource management because I know I can handle multiple responsibilities well. However, I also know that I have several weaknesses that I need to improve on so I may better handle such great responsibilities. Thus, an action plan is necessary for me to focus on further strengthening my strengths and improving on my weaknesses so eventually, they will also be considered strengths.

Action Plan

Overall, my action plan includes continued learning all throughout my life. This course has propelled me even more to do that with the additional readings and research I did in relation to the topics of my interest. If there are other opportunities to learn more like seminars, workshops or conferences offered then I will gladly attend. I shall be more open to new experiences, because I know that experience is the best teacher, and in every experience, there is much to learn - a new concept or idea, a new skill or a new perspective in life.

I shall also continue to relate with people from all walks of life since they are a good resource for learning. My dealings with people will help me strengthen my decision-making skills and help me learn to balance my relational skills with my rational skills. That way, I will not be easily exploited.

In terms of finding a prospective employer or organization who will accept me as an intern, I need to seek opportunities from classified advertisements in newspapers or from people I know who work in the field of HRM. I can also search the internet for such opportunities while learning about what qualifications and skills are needed for the position. If I find that I am lacking in such skills, then I shall endeavour to develop them so I will be able to present myself more professionally when the time comes that I am called for an interview.

Coming up with small projects of my own will help me improve my organisational and time-management skills. Examples are something as simple as planning a social event, creating a small garden or even starting a small-scale business. Such will surely put my skills to the test.

Life-long learning has now become one of my goals. I intend to fulfil it to the utmost. In other words, I shall live my life to the fullest.