You Should Make a Career Plan Now!

The current employment environment has turned most people’s back seat approach to driving their career direction on its head. Unsure how to get your career back on track or make your career dreams a reality? Engaging a Career Coach who specialized in Career Strategic Planning is the simplest way to be guided through this process and to ensure your plan is comprehensive and holistic. A successful framework is outlined below.

The first step is to get everything out on paper. Here’s advice on how to make a career plan that fits your aspirations, priorities, and personality.

Figure out what you like

Start with self-reflection.

What do you enjoy doing? What do you hate about your current job and want to do less of? Jot down a few notes on a piece of paper. Think of this as a rough sketch and don’t get too hung up on the finer details; your career plan should be flexible enough to accommodate change, both out there in the world and within you personally.

Figure out what you’re good at

One straightforward way of figuring out your strengths is to ask people around you (mentors, colleagues, former colleagues, friends) where they think your talents are and to recount times when they’ve seen you shine. Go back through old emails and try to find a pattern in the positive feedback you’ve received.

Don’t worry about finding your “passion”

Not everyone knows what their passion is—and that’s okay! In fact, researchers have found that passions are “developed” through hard work and dedication. We aren’t born with them, which makes “following” them or “finding” them impossible if they aren’t at first cultivated through a willingness to explore and develop interests in areas that might not have been that interesting before.

Take stock of where you are

Make a detailed list of your current job responsibilities. This time, get granular. How do you really spend your time? Compare this concrete list of tasks with the lists you made earlier, of your tastes, interests, and skills. How similar are they? Now, start coming up with potential career goals that would allow you to expand on where you are now. You don’t necessarily have to reinvent your career from top to bottom; your goal could just be to incorporate more of the things you’re best at into your day-to-day routine.

Consider your transferable skills

Strong communication and research skills, teamwork, self-management, and the ability to manage others are skills that are valued in hundreds of positions across all sectors. Imagine which of these transferable skills will be most important in your next role or venture, and work on developing them now, along with the technical skills you’ll need in your particular field.

Use the A/B/Z method

Use the A/B/Z method for career planning. It’s simple: you envision a few options for your future, and then rank them based on preference. Plan A is your ideal outcome, in which you hit every green light on your way to your dream job. Plan B is a “nearby alternative.” Plan Z is the backup plan you have in case it all goes to hell—having one, will help you mitigate the risks that can come up as you carve out a meaningful career.

Build flexibility into your career plan

Build career capital. Working at companies known for their high performance, or doing anything in which you might excel, builds career capital. Studying highly transferable and valuable subjects such as economics and computer science does too.

Consider the job market

It’s important to think about the labor market when setting your career goals. Even if a job sounds like the perfect fit for you, if it’s in a declining industry (such as journalism), it might not be worth pursuing long-term or full-time. On the other hand, be wary of making career decisions based solely on online lists of fastest-growing jobs—what’s hot now could change in a few years’ time, so pick something that resonates with you.

Factor in your ideal work/life balance

At this juncture, its important to consider your goals in other areas of your life, such as your goals as a parent, spouse, or community member. Your career doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so take some time to think about the ways your various career options could intersect with your personal life, and plan ahead to help you make the most of both.

Consider hiring a career coach

If you’re considering a career change and suffering from decision-making anxiety, connect with a Career Coach who can help guide you through a Career Exploration process.

Make a rough timeline

It can help to make a flexible timeline for your career, allotting sections for education, entry-level positions, mid-level positions, major projects, etc. If your goal is to start a business, you may want to map out approximately how long it’ll take to get funding or bring your product to market.

Don’t forget to celebrate milestones when you achieve them! And don’t be afraid to reorganize your timeline if you find, over the years, that it’s unrealistic or no longer suits your goals and desires.

Research education options

By now you should have a sense of your overall career direction, so it’s time to ask an important question: does achieving your career goals require additional schooling or technical training?

f you want to be a CEO, for example, you might consider getting a graduate degree in management. Take the time to weigh the possible benefits of accreditation against the opportunity cost and financial burden of full-time schooling.

Prepare yourself for change

Now that you have a rough timeline and a sense of the next steps you need to take to achieve your career goals, it’s time to take the plunge. Putting your plan into action usually involves taking risks, which means it may be challenging emotionally. If you’re making bold moves like quitting your job, make sure you practice self-care and check in with your support network regularly.

Don’t yield to outside pressure

This is also a good time to check in with your motivations. Why are you gunning for a certain role or job title? If you’re putting too much stock into what your colleagues or peers will think of you, consider that this kind of extrinsic motivation can lead to burnout.

By the same token, young job-seekers often end up in the wrong careers because they want to please their parents, only to make drastic career changes later. There’s nothing wrong with stability and prestige, of course, but take a moment to assess your career goals to make sure they align with your values.

Craft a killer résumé or make a business plan

Executing your career plan will probably require a few tools, namely, an impressive résumé or a meticulous business plan. Now that you know where you’re heading (and you’ve made a list of your strengths), it’s time to add a little polish to these documents. The return on investment of utilizing a professional Resume Writer or a career coach that can help you with an Entrepreneurial Start-up is astronomical.

Job-search strategically

When you’re looking for a new job, it’s best to have a system and a schedule. Even if you only have an hour in the evenings to send résumés and make connections, make sure to keep it consistent.

Pay attention to signs you’re off-track

Make a list of “check-in points,” or red flags, that will let you know if you’re off-course on your career trajectory. Didn’t get published in any academic journals by the end of your Ph.D.? Were you passed over for a promotion, again? It may be time to look at your career plan and consider shaking things up.

Build a network

Seek out a mentor who can guide you as you move through the various stages of your career. Get involved in professional associations and make friends in your industry. Attend conferences, become active on Twitter in the circles that matter to you, and participate. The stronger your network, the more successful you’ll be.

Review your plan annually

At least once a year, review your career plan and check in with your progress. Turn off your devices and take your time. Have you been achieving the milestones you set for yourself? Are you ignoring any red flags? How are your relationships with your colleagues? If you’ve experienced any changes in your personal life, or if you’re worried about the management or financial health of your employer, use this review to consider your options—and while you’re at it, dream big.

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