By John Groth
Having a career plan is a useful tool to monitor your career progress. It cannot be overemphasized the importance of having a realistic workable career plan. The operative words here are that you work the plan. You monitor your career progress and over time you make adjustments to your career plan as circumstances change.
Following are some basic ideas laid out for you to start planning and managing your career. Working on a career plan means you have to spend time understanding and organizing yourself. Your career goal is to maximize you skills, talents and abilities. Reflecting on your unique set of skills, strengths and limitations and how they change is time never wasted. Thinking about these things leads to a certain lucidity so when future opportunities are presented you can quickly make good choices.
Rapid changes in the economy, in the nature of work and organizations have complicated the career planning process. Gone are the days when many career plans looked like steps on a staircase. Predictable step by step career plans can’t now be relied on and you must plan for greater flexibility with more frequent review and analysis of your progress and situation.
Look around, often those who are most skilled in managing their career and maximizing opportunities get the promotions and the best jobs. Let’s see if we can help vault you into that group so you can manage your career progress through a well thought out career plan.
The foundation of your career plan has to be based on your understanding of who you are, what is important to you and your ideas and hopes for the future. This detailed understanding will help you to begin the process of developing your career plan.
Answering the following simple questions will get you started. In the past did you change jobs? If so why? What are the noteworthy influences in your life? How have these influences affected your career?
Now examine your skills. What are your major skills? What are your principal strengths? What limitations do you have? List your successes and failures. Do you have any underdeveloped talents? What are they? What are your wishes and dreams? Where do you see yourself in the near future, longer term?
Now look at what options do you have to make changes in your career plan. Is there a large gap that you need to start working on or do you need to make smaller improvements a number of factors? Write out your goals to your career plan. Keep each item measurable in both the short and longer term. If for example, your need a course in self-study, and plan on reading 48 books in the next two years, your career plan would be to read two books a month.
One career planning area that many find productive is to increase your satisfaction on you current job. Look around, is there an opportunity to undertake a new project, participate in a job swap, look for new responsibilities, come up with new ways to do things, go out of your way to mentor others, or even look at part-time or flexible employment.
The other main area in career planning is to change yourself by learning new skills or updating others or resetting your expectations and possibly reexamining present attitudes. You could take some additional courses at a local college, start a program of self-study, work at developing additional mentors or contact a career coach. All will move you toward achieving you career goals and making your career plans a reality.
Finally after you’ve looked internally for career opportunities and found nothing but dead ends, you may have to look elsewhere to advance your career. Examine your current situation critically when making plans to change employers. Develop creative solutions to ensure as close a match as possible between what you have planned for your career and what might be available. If you have gaps in your skills plan to get them closed, if you have to learn new skills get on a training and study program, begin studying writing and updating your resume and begin learning the latest in interviewing and job hunting techniques.
The right job may not be available at the right time. You may have to think beyond job opportunities that offer a promotion or increase in salary so don’t overlook a sideways move or a job which will give you experience or increase you career satisfaction.
As you periodically review your career plan you will find changes in what abilities are important and others will drop down in priority or some skills become more useful and others become redundant. The key is to review your career plan regularly, at least every three months with a more serious annual review. With these steps you will find yourself more in control, have more satisfaction with your present situation and be more positive and optimistic about your future.
John Groth is a former HR executive and career coach. Find Career Planning Ideas, valuable articles and a free seven day career planning guide. Discover up to date career and recruitment strategies at our Employment Changing Guide; all to assist you in advancing and managing your career.
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