Career planning is an essential part of what you do when you are thinking about a new career, or if you are looking to progress in the career you are in.
Many people will change careers multiple times during their lifetime, which means regular career planning is not something you do once, it's a continuous process.
Without a career plan it may become easy to be blown off course - having a firm career direction in mind will help keep you on track.
The main thing to remember is it’s never too soon or too late to start career planning.
You may want to consider the following:
1. Review your current situation.
- Are you happy in your current role?
- Are you happy with your current company?
- Are you seeking further development within your current role?
- Are you looking for a complete career change?
2. Consider your strengths, weaknesses and main interests.
- What you can do already? Identify your skills - as well as looking at what you do in your current position, look beyond the job you are in for transferable skills.
- What you do well? – think about your current position and where you excel.
- What are your accomplishments? - make a list and think back, it is likely you will have forgotten some if not many.
- What you enjoy? – reflect on your likes and dislikes.
- What interests you?
- What values do you have regarding work? – company values etc.
- What motivates you? - success, money, enjoyment, sense of achievement.
- What are your weaknesses?
- What obstacles could prevent you from reaching your goals?
Use your answers to these questions as a guide when identifying new opportunities.
3. Think about what you would really like to do
- Identifying your dream job can be difficult. It may be easier to compile a short list of a few jobs or career paths you think you may want to look into further.
- When making your shortlist, consider your answers to the questions above as well as others including:
- Do you want to run your own company?
- What kind of lifestyle do you want?
- Do you like having responsibility for other employees?
- Do you want work with people or on your own?
- Do you want to work with technology?
4. Consider your options
Once you have assessed which areas of work best suit your skills and created a short list of potential jobs/careers, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Think about what industry/sector you would like to work in and what jobs are available in that particular market.
Investigate your preferred choices further, considering in depth how you will achieve each one and what you need to learn (gaining more experience, professional qualifications, training etc).
Think about what suits you best at this point in your life / career.
The above will help you narrow down your choices, focus on which career path to choose and which jobs suit you best.
5. What you need to learn
- What types of educational experiences will help you achieve your career goals?
- What courses / training are best for you to undertake?
- Look within your professional associations, your local universities/colleges, and online distance learning programs that may help you reach your career objectives (and make sure you update your CV with any new qualifications, skills and training courses).
- Listen to your co-workers, your boss, and your superiors - you can learn a lot from their experiences.
The world is constantly changing so it is always a good idea to regularly update your skills and knowledge - never pass up chances to learn new skills.
6. Create an action plan and start setting goals
An action plan will help you document the steps you require to take to reach your goal.
When looking at your main career goal, it helps to set some short term objectives – this will help break things down into more manageable pieces.
Try looking at what you require to do in the coming year, then longer term.
Review, develop and adjust your goals as your plans progress or change.
Research has shown that you can become even more successful in your career through regular goal-setting.