A career orientation can refer to a few different things. The first is a method of introduction to a new job; a new employee might be shown around the office, assisted in filling out certain paperwork, or be given certain presentations regarding the job. Another type of career orientation refers to the direction that an individual takes, career-wise, throughout his or her life. If an individual always chooses or pursues a certain type of job, or a job in a particular field, this can be viewed as his or her orientation.
The first definition of career orientation is somewhat less common, though some companies do use this terminology when referring to new hires and their training period. The purpose of this type of orientation is to allow an individual to become familiar with the company and his or her new position. In companies where groups of people are hired at once, orientation may even span a few days, and take the form of a relatively organized program. It typically includes presentations on things like benefits plans, company policies, and safe working practices, among other things. It also gives employees the opportunity to ask questions and begin to train for their specific position.
The second type of career orientation is the more common definition. This refers to an individual's job preferences and choices, or the way he or she orients him or herself in her career throughout her life. Many individuals naturally develop a pattern of job preferences based on not just their interests, but on the way they prefer to work. For instance, some people really prefer to work as part of a team, while others do better working independently. Some like to be creative, while others would rather have a particular set of tasks to complete each day. Each of these personality aspects can help to make up a career orientation.
Career orientation tests are frequently given in high school to assist students in preparing for their future, and to begin deciding what career paths they want to pursue in college. Of course, adults who want to change course, or who feel dissatisfied in their jobs, are free to take career orientation tests as well. There are a number of them available for free online, or they may be accessed at libraries or other career resource centers. Individuals who pursue a career that meshes well with their personalities and desires for a working environment tend to be the most successful, so it can certainly be beneficial to try.