Planning your career is not something you should set and forget. It is an important part of any stage in your life or career and can help drive your next promotion, the leadership opportunity you’ve been chasing or to make a complete career shift.
Career planning is the continuous process of proactively managing and mapping your career journey. It can help identify short and long term goals, understand your skills, as well and strengths and weaknesses, keep abreast of industry trends and help you make the most of your working life.
We’ve listed seven steps to help you create a great career at any age or stage.
1. Understand your passions, strengths and skills
Taking time to examine not only your skills and strengths in a professional setting, but also your passions, will help you identify and understand what you have to offer your current and future workplaces. It will also enable you to focus on what you really want from both your career and the organisation that employs you – it’s not just about a title and good salary.
2. Identify careers that match your passions, strengths and skills
Figuring out your core values and passions are key. Prioritisting how they align with your professional circumstances will help you identify companies whose overall mission statements align with your values, making it easier to decide which opportunities to gravitate towards when they arise. Finding positions that bring your strengths and skills to the forefront will ensure you stay on the path you’ve set for yourself, making it easier to achieve your short and long-term goals.
3. Research growing job markets
Have you been able to identify jobs that are in rapidly growing areas as a potential opportunity that tap into your strengths and skills? When you’re planning your career path, you might find you’re heading in the direction of a new or growing industry. This is a great opportunity to build your career from the ground up and eventually become an industry leader. Keeping an eye on the job market and taking note of which areas have the fastest growth means you’ll be well equipped to spot opportunities as they become available.
4. Discover what qualifications are needed
Part of your career development plan should include an updated list of the qualifications needed for any future roles you aspire to. In a world where industries and technology are changing fast, so too are the qualifications required to work in these roles.
5. Compare your potential career paths
When you’re trying to decide how to map out your career path, you may develop a few different versions. So how do you compare the two? Think about how each plan matches up with your values – by asking yourself some simple questions:
- Do you aspire to executive level roles that are wholistically rewarding, or is a title and salary more important to you?
- What sort of workplace culture are you looking for and would you sacrifice a positive experience for your dream role?
- If the overall organisational core values or mission statement doesn’t align with your views but the position is exactly what you want, could you work there and be fulfilled?
- Does your career plan include time for further study or training if required?
In asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to identify which career plan is your preferred one, and start working towards achieving those goals.
6. Seek support from career advisors or career coaches.
One of the key areas of how to develop a career plan involves talking to an executive career coach. As you develop your career plan, participating in career planning advice sessions with an executive career advisor will help you gain clarity, create strategic direction and identify main objectives. They can also show you how to develop your skills and unlock your strengths and passions, so they align with your career goals.
7. Put it into action
Making your career plan actionable and achievable involves a few steps:
1. List your SMART goals:
- Specific: ensure you are precise about what you want
- Measurable: include criteria that you can use to measure your own progress
- Achievable: set timeframes that allow you to realistically achieve your goals
- Realistic: ensure the goals you set can actually be achieved
- Time-based: set deadlines and hold yourself accountable to them so that you can continue on the path towards your desired outcomes
2. Put them into an action plan.
Setting a realistic plan of actionable items or a to do list will help you stay on track and focus on what’s needed to achieve each step.
3. Do it!
Once you have planned your career path, there’s nothing left to do but to do it! Methodically approach each step and work through your plan to tick off the actionable items, as well as continuing to seek out opportunities to learn, speak to industry mentors, and research potential areas of growth.
Developing a career plan is one of the most useful things you can do to ensure you’re on the right path to a long and fulfilling career. Gain clarity, be prepared to switch gears professionally when opportunities arise and zero in on what you want while focusing on how you can achieve it and you’ll be all set for a meaningful and successful career at any age or stage.under