In an era where jumping between jobs and companies to achieve our goals quicker has become the norm, the need to plan your career is more necessary than ever. Today, we’re part of a multi-generation workplace that is showing an inspiring drive to achieve career and life goals as soon as possible.
76% of us want opportunities for career growth – if we’re not being given these opportunities, we can be left thinking is “my career stalling? And should I be looking to move on?” This is where career planning comes in – an invigorating and inspiring exercise that keeps us on track with our career goals, whilst also allowing us to adapt to changing circumstances. Here’s how to audit and map your career path the right way:
how to plan your career the right way – a 5-step framework
1 – define your career and life goals
When working out where we want to be in our careers and what we want to achieve, first we must define measurable goals. As with most things in the workplace, having goals gives us an eye on the finish line and keeps us inspired to achieve them.
In order to really grow your career, you need to have goals for both for your career and your lifestyle. Why? If you’re clear about your lifestyle goals and your career goals, you’ll discover where these coincide and where they are different. From this, you can build a list of the most important ones that overlap each other and less important ones you can remove or go without. For example, a lifestyle goal may be that you wish to move to a bigger city, like London or New York. How does this correlate with your career? Will you need to move companies or change careers in order to achieve this? Are you willing to do so or is this goal something you can live without achieving?
2 – conduct a career audit
This can be tough because you have to use this time to appraise yourself, and sometimes we can be too self-critical or afraid to admit what we need to work on. If you embrace this task, it can be extremely refreshing and insightful for you – you’ll discover things about yourself that perhaps you never thought you had as a skill.
If you’re feeling extremely brave, involve others! Not too many, but perhaps a partner, trusted colleague or friend to help you discover what you’re good at and what needs improvement. Perhaps you’re actually a really sociable person, but need to improve your working relationships with colleagues? This exercise will really help you define points that require action in order to progress you through your career.
After you’ve done your personal development audit, now look at your career so far. Are you happy with what you’ve achieved? Would you like to be further ahead or are you interested in changing industries? What transferable skills do you have to help you achieve this? You need to do this in order to establish where you need to focus your development in the workplace and also identify some of the great things you’ve achieved throughout your current career.
3 – create milestones
Now that you have your career and lifestyle goals, you’ve audited your career so far, you have all the info you need to start to build a career plan. The next steps are applying these goals to a milestone timeline – where do you want to be in 3,5,10 years within your career? By attaching your goals to a timeline you’ll be able to see your career mapping itself out more clearly. This doesn’t need to be the standard 3,5,10 year plan either – create something that suits your career goals and is achievable.
4 – create a career plan of action
The main part of the framework, creating an action plan will be what helps you reach your goals. This plan will help you work out what you need to do to progress. For example, you may need to become a bit more collaborative and creative in your problem solving, and so you identify to look for training and development courses on this topic to help you grow this skill.
By using a ‘what and how’ approach to identify your career progression, you’re naturally challenging your weaknesses and improving them. You’ll identify what the problem is, why you believe it’s a problem and find a solution of how you’re going to improve/overcome it.
You’ll also be able to identify areas for quick wins and ‘low hanging fruit’ such as; putting yourself forward for opportunities and responsibility that arise, or researching topics that are relative to your working skill-set/interests. All of this is naturally helping you to develop your personal impact, whilst building productive relationships in your workplace.
5 – implementing your career plan
This is where the real hard-work comes in, and is also where all the initial work auditing and planning your career pays off. You’ve identified what you need to research more of, where there are areas for opportunities you can take and where you need training. Now you need to network! 68% of the working population acknowledge training and development as the most important workplace policy, but without creating powerful internal relationships, how will you open up opportunities and get the training and development you’ve highlighted to help you grow?
Here’s a tip – take time each day to speak to one colleague and senior team member each day, on both a personal and work-related level. Listen intently and try to only speak when the time is truly right! By listening to what is being said, you’re building good rapport with your colleague, showing you care and enhancing your ability to read people and their emotions – a true sign of a leader!
Combining networking, general research, taking opportunities and responsibilities that arise and practising on improving any skills you believe need improvement, you’re fast-tracking yourself to hitting those life goals you set out at the beginning of your career plan.