“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Hard to believe there was a time when a person’s job spanned their entire career. Nowadays, many of us can expect to have between five to seven careers throughout our life. That’s a lot of change. One of the best ways to navigate these changes, kick-start your working life, or explore career options, is with a career plan.
What is a career plan?
A career plan is a strategy to help you set career goals, identify your skills and interests, then put a plan into place that you can action.
Aspects to consider in your career plan might include:
- Possible career paths
- Career goals
- Current skills and experience
- Life priorities
What should a career plan do for you?
A career plan is a tool to help you land your dream job. Developing a strategy is a great first step for students who are graduating, anyone considering a career change, or charting their long-term career goals.
It can also help you to navigate life milestones, such as buying a car, getting your first apartment or planning to travel, and adjust your career path accordingly. Perhaps combining travel with career means you want more flexibility. While moving into your first apartment could be the push you need to apply for that promotion.
Career planning will help you manage changes in your work environment in a positive way. Changes in technology are revolutionizing the workplace, in some cases making jobs obsolete, or creating new ones. A decade ago, a social media manager was barely considered a career option. Who knows what the future might bring? Remember, career planning is an ongoing process.
Why do you need a career plan?
Especially for those beginning a career, you may only have a faint idea of what you’d like to do. While you don’t want to limit your options when landing your first job, a career plan acts is a road map to your long-term career goal. Putting the work into developing a career plan will give you clarity when it comes to applying for jobs, consider additional training, and selling your skills in an interview.
How to develop a career plan
1. Start where you are: list your current skills and abilities, as well as your experience. Laying it out will help you see which skills you already possess and help identify any transferable skills you have when applying for job postings. It’s also an opportunity to pinpoint any skills or training you may lack and put together a plan to tackle this.
2. Assess your options. Many of us complete our education and still aren’t entirely sure what career path is the right one. Grab your laptop (or notebook) and put aside some time to consider some of the following:
- What are your interests?
- What are your values?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your personal goals?
3. Break it down further so you can identify what career success looks like for you:
- What would your ideal workday look like?
- What types of industries are you interested in?
- What qualities do you value in a workplace?
- What does the work culture of your ideal company look like?
- Even consider what you wanted to do for a job when you were a child.
Remember, this is an opportunity to explore before committing to a plan. But, envisioning where you see yourself will help with your career search.
Putting your career plan into action
Now that you’ve done some blue sky thinking, it’s time to put an action plan together. Once you’ve defined what success looks like for you, identify a future role you’ll love and start building a long-term plan. Your next step is to develop a short-term plan.
Breaking larger goals down into smaller, more manageable ones helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed. You want a clear picture of what experience and expertise you’ll need to land your dream job. This may involve looking into further education and applying for jobs that align with your career goals.
Here’s some things to remember:
Now you need to work the plan! Set timelines for each action. This will keep you on track and help keep you motivated along the way. Your career plan will likely evolve over time, and you may need to make changes to some of your goals to reflect that.
If you’re struggling to create a plan or stay motivated, buddy up with a friend and check in with each other. Many universities also offer career counselling and are a great resource for students. There are also books available, such as the classic What Color Is Your Parachute?, a self-help book for job seekers.
Remember, early jobs in your career are building blocks to get you to where you want to go. Along the way you’ll be developing new skills and capabilities.
Putting a well thought out career plan in place is a great step on the path of achieving your goals. It helps to give you a sense of direction and control over your path in your professional life. Building a career plan takes thought, but Prepped is here to help guide you through the process. It is designed to help you create a career vision, identify future goals, and create a short-term plan.