The greatest asset in developing yourself is… YOU! As we all know, there is no magic formula to development. Just like all other forms of development, career development is influenced by many factors and you can’t predict everything that is going to happen along the way. However, one point that we all need to bear in mind is that career development is an active process that you have to engage with. Lucky breaks do happen but it’s not something you should rely on. The only element that is guaranteed to be there to help you is… YOU!
8 steps for active career planning:
1. Positive mindset – cultivate a ‘can do’ approach. “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right”
2. Have a plan – “ If you’re not planning where you want to be, what reason or excuse do you have for worrying about being nowhere”, Tom Hopkins. To quote another saying, “if you don’t know where your’re going, anywhere will do”. Take control and start planning!
3. Assess your skills/competencies – you may be surprised at how many skills you have, e.g. foreign language skills, numerical – such as statistical analysis, accounting, or influencing skills – negotiating, persuading, promoting ideas etc.
4. Assess your work/ non-work values – how do they fit in with your other attributes. Remember, these may change over time depending on your life stage. Creativity in a job may be the element you desire or, the opportunity to work independently, or having the time to follow hobbies and interests or, prioritising aspects of family life. Whatever your goal, think about how your work and non-work values fit and how they support other areas in your development.
5. Cultivate the profile for success – does your picture realistically match with the demands of employers? The better your match the better your chance of success. However, having the right qualification and aptitude is not sufficient. You need to promote the characteristics that show a close match with what the employer wants and which make you stand out against the competition.
6. Define your objectives – to use a well known phrase: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do” (ref point 2) Outline flexible, S.M.A.R.T objectives to guide your actions.
7. Communicate your plans – let others know what you are trying to achieve. Develop mutually beneficial working relationships and seek ways in which you can get support to meet the goals outlined in your career plan.
8. Enhance your employability – companies can’t promise jobs for life so it is essential to ensure that you are prepared for and anticipate change. Ignore gaps in your knowledge or skills to your peril! Continuous professional development is key to ongoing employability and it is almost a pre-requisite to ensuring you keep pace with developments in the working environment. Take the steps now to future-proof your career.
Taking action to plan your career will ensure that you are on the right track to achieving your goals. Make those transitions today!