The New Year is a time many people make resolutions and set goals for various parts of their life, but few people set or revisit goals for their career. Rather than having specific and clear goals, many people almost drift though their career – they have an idea that they want to be promoted or attain a higher salary, but they don’t actually have a clear goal of where they want to be in ten years’ time or what is the next step or milestone on getting there.
People who plan their career achieve more and are more successful. They tend to be the people that others are envious of and wonder what they are doing to get promoted faster than their peers. People who plan their career are usually more content, satisfied and fulfilled in their work. People who plan their career are more likely to get where they want to go because they have a ‘career roadmap’.
So, as it is the New Year, now is a good time for you to plan your career, and below describes how you can go about doing it.
The starting point for career planning is a question: Where do you want to be career-wise in seven to ten years’ time?
Seven to ten years is considered long-term in career planning, but it is also useful to consider what job you want to retire from at the end of your career – depending on your age, this may be considerably longer-term than your seven to ten year career goal. However, an ‘end-of-career’ goal can provide overall direction to your career and how you think about it. Your ‘end-of-career’ goal may change over time as you gain experience and/or develop new interests, so it is not completely fixed or ‘set in stone’ – but it is an important beacon providing guidance to your career direction.
To develop your career plan, it is useful to identify both your ‘end-of-career’ goal and your seven to ten year career goal. Indeed, your seven to ten year career goal will be a major milestone on the way to your ‘end-of-career’ goal. Even if you are unsure or unclear about your ‘end-of-career’ goal, you can still develop a valuable and constructive long-term plan by focusing on a seven to ten year period. The process of determining both is the same, just that one is a longer duration than the other and will have more milestones. Here, for simplicity, we will focus on developing a seven to ten year career plan.
Having answered the question of where you want to be in your career in seven to ten years’ time, write that down at the top of a sheet of paper – this is your end point. Also write down at the bottom of the page where you are now – the job you are currently in – this is your starting point. This is the framework for your career ‘roadmap’.
Now you need to consider what milestones are in between your starting and end points. Let’s begin at your end point: What type of job do you need to be in to be considered eligible to get the long-term job that you want? What experience and skills are required for this job? This is the final milestone on the way to your career goal.
And for that job – the final milestone job – what job would you need to be in to be considered eligible to get promoted to this job? This is your second-last milestone. And so on until you are back at your current job and have identified milestones all the way to your end job.
Now you have a career roadmap that has identified your long-term career goal (the end point) and each type of job you need to get along the way as milestones. You can see a clear direction your career needs to take. When job opportunities present themselves, you now have guidance on whether such jobs will help you get where you want to be – are they in keeping with your career roadmap? Will such a job help you get the next job that is a milestone on your career roadmap or the one after that? If so, you should take it – if not, it is a distraction on your way to your end goal.
A following article will show you how to create a career development plan that will identify the skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience necessary to secure the jobs on your career roadmap.