A personal career plan helps you determine your skills and interests, which career best suits your talents, and what skills and training you need for your chosen career. By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there.
Long term vision: The key to successful planning is having a long term vision. What’s your long term goal? It might be anything from changing careers, where you eventually want to be on the career ladder, or simply securing a role.
Short term goals: To keep yourself motivated you need to work out some milestones. They might be skills based, salary based or responsibility based. Achieving these milestones or short term goals will help you to stay motivated.
Identify what motivates you, your preferred environments and role: What kind of role will hold your interest long-term, and suit your preferred life style? Think about what the most important things in your next role are (i.e. salary, location, culture, challenge, working hours).
Know your personality, interests and values: You need to consider your interests and values not just in a working environment but also from a personal perspective. Using tools such as psychometric tests will help with this. They can often suggest environments that your personality is best suited to, or the types of organisations your values would fit best with.
Identify your skills: You can use things such as your CV, past job descriptions, psychometric assessments and colleagues and friends to help you do this. It’s important to focus on the skills you most enjoy, not just the ones you’re good at. Also think about any specific achievements from your most recent role, past roles and outside of the working environment.
Once you’ve identified what motivates you, the next step is to ensure your skills and competencies match your chosen career path. You’ll need to fully identify and understand what competencies are required in order for you to move onto the next level and succeed at that level. For example, does your desired role need analytical reasoning and commercial awareness, or does it rely more on strong communication skills and leadership qualities? Some of these you’ll already be good at, but others you may not be. Now is the time to start focusing on improving in these areas.
The more you begin to recognise where your strengths lie and where you need to improve, the more attainable your career path will become.
Research skills and qualifications required: Start off by researching basic information on each career path such as job descriptions, employment statistics, job outlook, earnings, educational and training requirements. You need to remember that market conditions will always impact on how quickly and to what extent you can achieve your plan.
Use your network: Specific people in your network will be able to give you inside information on a specific career. Use your friends and family, past and present work colleagues, managers and social media networking sites such as LinkedIn. Expand your network by joining groups and set up informal interviews and meetings with your contacts to find out more.
Consider all your options: Continuously scan your environment for development opportunities. Keep your end goal in mind as it makes it easier to spot exciting opportunities that come your way, both inside and outside of your organisation. This will prevent you from feeling trapped, helping you stay positive and focused.
As soon as the vision you have for yourself is clear, set yourself short and long term goals to help you get there. Use the short term goals to help you break your plan down into manageable chunks.
Your goals should be SMART:
Ensure that you include obstacles in your plan, and information about how you intend to overcome them e.g. Finding childcare so you can travel for work.
Remember there’s more than one route to get to where you’re going. Make sure that the goals you set and the milestones you noted at the beginning aren’t forgotten. Keep them to hand and refer to them frequently. No performance review, appraisal or career conversation should go by without direct reference to your career plan. That way you’ll always be ready to take advantage of the development opportunities that come your way.
This article was written by the career coaching experts at Renovo.
Working with a career coach can help you plan and take the steps needed to have the career you want.