When it comes to careers, we generally have an idea as to where we are currently at and where we would like to end up, however, the transition between these two points is often where we face the most difficulty. Having a career plan can help you not only figure out how to get to your end goal, but it can also help you decide whether or not the career you have chosen is right for you. The following points are things to consider when planning your career.
- Understand the Nature of a Career
Having a job is not the equivalent to having a career. You may have decided to take a particular job in order to gain work experience rather than to start your career. It is important to notice when this is indeed the case to avoid becoming stuck in that situation without any real chance for growth. A career takes several years to be built and it is important that you recognize that you will not see changes instantaneously, but rather over period of time. In every job you take or position you hold, it is important to see the value in it and how it relates to your end goal. This will ensure that you do not feel lost or stuck in your career path.
- Figure Yourself Out
You cannot properly design your career if you are unsure as to what you would like out of it. Take time to think about your likes and dislikes, your work ethic, your personality and what you would like out of a job. Know the type of organization you would like to work for and how it aligns with your personality and goals. Consider your life goals in general and see where your career will fit into these plans. Think about your current set backs and other commitments in addition to your immediate needs and short term plans. This can help you comprehensively develop your plan and help you set a timeframe for each of the stages in your plan.
- Research the Industry
There is a great difference between knowing what you would like to do and having a working knowledge of how to do it. You need to figure out the types of jobs available in the industry you would like to work and the requirements to hold each of these positions. Read up on individuals in positions you would like to hold and follow up on their career stories. Find individuals who are in the same industry as you are and talk to them about the job and the requirements for the job.
- Know your Capabilities, Qualifications and Experience
It is almost impossible to move up in an organization or field without having gained considerable experience or qualifications. Assess your current attributes and competencies and how they can be useful in your career development. Know your transferable skills and past achievements. This will help determine what you need to do to move forward. Figure out the additional training courses and qualifications needed to be eligible for the positions you are interested in. Research the institutions that offer the courses needed for the job to find the best fit. Continuously update your resume or CV to ensure that it reflects everything you would have done in the organization.
- Grow your Network
It would be almost impossible to advance your career without building a network. Whether you are planning to own your own business or move up in an organization, it is important that you develop both professional and social networks. The individuals that you relate with can help give you the tools and connections you need to advance your business or career. Start building these relationships from the onset of your career. Determine who is important now and who may be important for the future of your career and maintain positive interactions with them. Doing this will go a long way in helping you grow and develop. Ask for advice from these people and even share your career plans with some of them. You may be surprised at the kind of help and assistance you may receive.
- Make Decisions
The biggest setback to getting your career started is fear and procrastination. Once you have determined where you want to go and what is needed to get there, it is important that you begin making decisions. Weigh the pros and cons of each decision and how it will affect your long and short-term life goals. Make an actual written version of your plan- it may not be an extensive and detailed list, however, once you outline the stages in your career plan, you will be better able to figure out what needs to be done in the short-term. Even though you may currently be working and comfortable in your job, it is important that you being making decisions for your future. For example, if you notice that there is no room for growth where you are currently working and that you may be able to go to work and pursue studies at the same time then try to occupy your free time developing in that way so that you are not frozen or stagnant in your career development.
Planning a career can be much simpler than you may think. The first and most important step is always to take the first step! Read up on the following links for more tips on how to develop and plan your career: