Do you have a current career plan? If you do have a career plan, does it exist as a concise, written document that contains clearly delineated steps you will take this year and in subsequent years to help you achieve your career goals? If you are like most people, your answer to at least one of the above questions is “no”.
Many people think about their careers and their future in abstract terms. Some have even formulated in their mind where they would like to be in 5 or 10 years and how they plan to get there. Yet most of us fail when it comes to putting this career plan in writing.
Why is a written career plan so important? Let me help you answer that question by asking you a couple more questions. Would you ever go to work for a company that doesn’t have a Business Plan? Would you ever have faith in a company’s programs and initiatives if they were not supported by clear, concise Marketing Plans? Of course, most of us want to know that we are part of an overall plan that is well thought-out and spelled out on paper. If our employer did not have written business and marketing plans, it would be cause for deep concern.
I’m challenging you right now to commit your career plan to writing. Make a promise to yourself that by this time next month you will have a written career plan for the upcoming twelve months.
Here are some tips and guidelines to help you get started:
- Perform a “self-assessment” or “personal audit”. Take the next 3-7 days to make an exhaustive list of your knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences. This list will be a “snapshot” of who you are today and what you have to offer in your chosen profession.
- Create long and short term career goals. What do you want your career to look like upon retirement? In 10 years? 5 years? In one year from now? Critically assess your objectives and decide on reasonable goals for yourself.
- Start drafting an outline of your career plan. List your long term goals at the top of the page and then start working backwards writing down the steps you will need to make along the way in support of those long term goals. Identify benchmarks along the path toward your long-term goals.
- Write down your 1-year goals in a separate “sub-plan”. Once you have written a clear statement of what your career will look like long-term, now is the time to start drafting a one-year plan to get you started. Try to achieve the first benchmark you identified in Step 3. Don’t forget things such as: Areas of your personal life you wish to develop; soft skills development (interpersonal, communication, organizational, decision-making, etc.); and hard skills development (task-specific skills, computer knowledge, etc.).
Knowing where your career is going is important. Committing this plan to paper is even more important. Create a written career plan and you’ll be on your way to greater overall achievement.