“I think I am like a lot of others in my situation. I have been out of school for several years. I have been very happy with the jobs I have had since then but I don’t feel like I have a career plan. I feel like I just take job opportunities as they come along but I don’t have plan for longer term. Any suggestions for those like me?”
Career planning is something that few people take seriously. To start your planning process consider that there are four key phases to career planning, as there are to any type of planning. They are:
Long term strategy: Prepare a list of objectives you want to accomplish over the long term (minimum 5 years). Be realistic and be specific enough that you can envision the feeling of accomplishing those goals. Include what, when and where for each goal.
Tactics: Take each goal from your long term strategy list and ask yourself what you must do in order to accomplish that goal. Be realistic and specific about the activity(s) you need to do in order to accomplish that goal. Include what, when, where and how. If your skills need upgraded by more schooling, if you need to be more confident as a speaker, if you need more managerial training, if you need more job experiences; these are examples of what may be included in the tactics.
Document: Write down your long term strategy goals and each tactic you believe it will take to complete that goal. This document can be a single page or longer depending on the amount of detail you want to include. This is your career plan and the more often you review it, the better chance you have to achieve it.
Execute: The best plans are useless if never executed. Determining the strategic goals and what is needed to achieve them is the easy part of career planning. Most people spend most of their time on the first 3 phases and then fail because they cannot complete phase 4-Executing on that plan; actually doing what they said they had to do to reach their goals. Plans should be flexible and may need to be adjusted from time to time, don’t be afraid to make changes if your desires change.
There are many qualified career counselling and mentoring services available if you need outside support for getting started, guiding you along the way or for helping hold you accountable to complete your plan.
A mentor of mine would tell me “if it was easy, everyone would do it.” You will be more successful if you have a plan that you use to guide your career.
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