How to Plan Your Career

Planning your career is not something you do just once in your life, but a continuous activity which has to be done on a regular basis at different stages in your career. It’s not like how things used to be back in the 1970s and 1980s, when career planning was something that was done just once – when in high school or college – and it was rare for people to change careers. Today, professionals change careers all the time and need to stay on top of the latest employment news and career trends.

Be clear about your career goals and objectives – Develop a clear path ahead for your career and set a very specific set of career goals and objectives. Your goals should be realistic and achievable, and should be a combination of short-term and long-term objectives. Keep reviewing and modifying your goals according to the current realities and set new goals once the previous goals are accomplished.

What are your accomplishments? Make a note of your past accomplishments. This will help you build a better resume and helps with your career planning as well. Often, we tend to undervalue our accomplishments and even forget all about them over time. Don’t let that happen to you. Perhaps reviewing a past accomplishment will reveal the hidden secrets to future career success. Track your accomplishments and leverage them as much as possible.

Look beyond job titles – For most people, a career is all about a sequence of job titles, with one succeeding another. That approach may have worked in the past, but today, job titles no longer have the same relevance. Jobs of today require a specific set of skill sets. A lot of careers today have transferable skill sets – a reporter, for example, can very easily be a best-selling nonfiction writer because both careers have transferable skill sets such as writing, researching, editing, and interviewing. So the focus of your career planning should be on how to build or develop specific skill sets, and not necessarily on how to go from one job title to another.

Create your own career opportunities – The last decade and a half have seen many new careers come to the fore and a plenty of older ones becoming redundant. As a professional, you should create your own career opportunities, learn marketable new skills and have your own unique selling proposition. For this, you will need to stay on top of the employment news and the fast changing trends in the job market.

Take a good, hard look at your hobbies and pastimes – What are the things you like doing when you are not working at a job or attending your school or college? Do you, for example, have a talent for web design and have been designing your own websites for fun for a while now? Do you have amazing skills with Photoshop? Why not turn your hobby into a career? Did you know that there’s a huge demand for talented web designers, logo designers or graphic designers in the industry today? There are several skills like that which many of us consider to be no more than a hobby for which there’s a lot of demand in the marketplace.

Plan your career once every year – Make career planning something you do on a regular basis. Dedicate an entire weekend at the start of each year to career planning. Make sure that you’re not distracted and have all the time to focus on what you want out of your life and career. Map out your career path since the last time you did career planning. Take your time to review and reflect on your career so far. Ask yourself if you are satisfied with the direction it has taken and if you need a change. Is there anything that you could have done differently, or better? Be objective with your analysis.

Make a list of your biggest likes and dislikes about your career – Change is one constant in life. Things change all the time, as do our like and dislikes. List out what you like the most about your job and what you hate about it. Be honest with yourself. Do you even like your job? Then you are on the right path. If you don’t like your job and feel like you are under performing at it, it’s probably time to make a career change.

Keep learning – Educate yourself and always seek to learn new things. There’s no telling when a new opportunity can come your way because of the new things – marketable skills – that you have learned. Keep yourself up-to-date with the changes in technologies in your chosen field.

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