Career Planning model

The SODI career planning model

Given the complexity of career development and the fluidity of the world of work, we need to be able to navigate our career paths with purpose and clarity.

Law and Watts (1977) devised a simple model of career education, which has stood the test of time. This model has been changed slightly to become a career planning (rather than a career education) model and named the SODI model – where the last element is ‘implementation’ rather than ‘transition learning’ and ‘decision learning’ becomes ‘decision making and planning’.

The model encapsulates four concepts:

  • self-awareness – the individual having knowledge about and understanding of their own personal development. Self-awareness in a careers context involves an understanding of the kind of personal resources (both actual and potential) that they bring to the world
  • opportunity awareness – an understanding of the general structures of the world of work, including career possibilities and alternative pathways
  • decision-making and planning – an understanding of how to make career decisions and being aware of pressures, influences, styles, consequences and goal setting
  • implementing plans – having the appropriate skill level in a range of areas to be able to translate job and career planning into reality.

Using the SODI model for self-assessment

The first segment of the SODI career planning model (self-assessment) is concerned with identifying and understanding personal characteristics that influence choices in both learning and work contexts. It’s important when embarking on career decision-making that you develop an understanding of yourself as an individual by exploring the personal skills that you bring to learning and work.

For example, if a person has a strong set of personal interaction skills, a strong interest in scientific matters and a strong need or desire to be in a non-structured environment, then these personal characteristics (along with some others) will influence the types of learning and work situations to which the person will be best suited.

Identifying and understanding personal characteristics can be a difficult process. All the different components of an individual’s personality come into play during self-assessment and they all have a bearing on what makes a person the way they are. Young people may find it difficult to embark on self-assessment due to embarrassment, unease or lack of life experience, but self-assessment is a critical component of career development and perseverance is key. The effort will pay off in the end!

Personal characteristics include: abilities, aptitudes, cognitive styles, generic or transferable skills, specific or technical skills, personal values, work values, interests, personality, physical attributes and needs.

To be an effective career decision maker other self-awareness issues – such as achievements, coping strategies, goals and performance – may also need to be explored.

There are numerous online exercises and tests that examine personal characteristics. Some examples appear in the Online Tests section of this website.

Exploring opportunities and information

The second segment of the SODI model (opportunity awareness) is concerned with knowledge of the world of work and training. It aims to identify what options or opportunities exist, how they can be accessed, the changes that are occurring in the workplace and how these will impact on individuals.

You can conduct your own research by examining sites that provide information about:

  • occupations – job descriptions, qualifications required to gain entry to careers and sources of additional and related information
  • industries and professions – current developments and activities in industries and professions
  • labour market trends – current and projected labour market demands, recent salaries and skills required for employment
  • training courses – information on the range of courses available through universities, VET/TAFE and some of the major private providers.

Making decisions and planning

The third segment of the SODI model (decision making) addresses how to actually go about making decisions relevant to career planning or development. Decision making occurs at a number of points in career planning and some decisions will be revisited. Students need to understand the types of decisions (and hence decision making styles) that need to be analysed, in light of the various pressures, expectations and cues that affect decision making – aspects such as unforeseen situations, obstacles and limitations. It’s crucial that students understand the importance of taking responsibility for the outcomes of these decisions.

Goal setting

Setting goals (both short- and long-term) is important in career decision making. It may be that a student needs to understand and identify his or her short- and medium-term goals in order to accomplish long-term goals. These goals could include meeting academic entry requirements, attaining required skills or completing particular courses in the short term in order to achieve future long-term career goals.

Implementing plans

The final stage in the four-step SODI model (implementing plans) relates to putting existing plans into action. In this stage, the information gained from previous steps about you, the world of work and decision making is utilised.

Typical activities at this stage of the career planning process include preparing cover letters and résumés, completing application forms and thinking about how to prepare for interviews. This is the stage where you utilise much of the information gained in the earlier steps of the SODI model. The ability to tell your story by focusing on your skills, abilities and achievements is invaluable in the job-seeking process.

The numerous articles and sites referred to in the Your Application and Interviews and Beyond sections on this site provide advice on some of the practical considerations for job seekers. This section examines application forms, cover letters, résumés, interviews and career transitions.

(This article was taken from the internet job-seeking guide ‘Working The Web’ by Col McCowan, Head Careers and Employment, Queensland University of Technology ([email protected]) and Mal McKenzie, Manager Careers Service, University of Technology, Sydney ([email protected]).

Further Resources

University of Wollongong Careers Service
The University of Wollongong’s Careers Service uses the SODI model to present a career planning tool for students.

The Australian Government’s myfuture site is useful for setting your career goals.

Careers Online
Careers Online provides basic information and tips for school-aged students. Users must register to use the site but there is no charge involved.

St Mary’s College {Queensland}
St Mary’s College {Queensland} provides sound information and advice on setting and achieving goals and includes a problem solving section.

North Carolina State University Careers Service
North Carolina State University Careers Service provides the principles of good decision making and alerts users to issues that should be considered when making career decisions.

Rose State College Career Service
Rose State College Career Service provides a number of links to sites with career decision making information.