By Leon Gettler
Career planning is an ongoing process of thinking about your interests, values, skills and preferences. It’s about exploring all those life, work and learning options available to you and ensuring that your career fits with your personal circumstances. It’s about continuously fine-tuning your work and personal development to help you manage the changes in your life and the world of work.
At some stage, every manager will ask themselves key questions: Are they getting the introductions and job opportunities that match their impact and skills? Are they meeting the kind of people that will take them to where they want to go? How good is their network? What can they bring to the table?
The Harvard Business Review sets it out beautifully in a piece “A Campaign Strategy For Your Career” by Dorie Clark.
The key is to start with the end date in mind and work backwards from there, carefully planning milestones and identifying key individuals that will help get you to where you want to be.
Clark likens it to a political campaign. The first thing, Clark says, is to identify your goals, even if they’re provisional.
“You can periodically update your plan—or create a new, prewritten résumé—to match your changing goals. For now, pick an end point and get started. You may be seeking a promotion to senior VP, a book deal, or a spot for your start-up in a prominent incubator.”
Clark says it’s also useful to print out monthly calendars starting now and ending with the target date for accomplishing your goal. She also recommends people identify the skills acquired by others who have reached your goal, determine what skills you can learn on your own. For the rest, figure out how long formal study will take and then chart your skills-development plan on your campaign calendar. Also, remember success depends on who you know. Identify who has the most influence over your career, who has the most influence over them, find out what you can offer the influential people—expertise, assistance on a project, help with networking—and ways to cultivate unique knowledge or skills they’d find valuable and finally, make a list of the groups you should join because they hold sway or will allow you to meet key contacts.”
Recruitment firm Michael Page says people need self-evaluation (e.g. ask yourself the following questions: What motivates me and what do I enjoy doing? What are my personal attributes and lifestyle priorities? What do my family and friends see as my strengths and weaknesses? What are the five key things I am looking for in a job?).
People also have to do some skills analysis where they look into the skills they now have and what sort of skills they need to get. Also, they have to look at the kind of industries that would appeal to them and ask themselves what role they would want to play. And importantly, they have to set themselves some sort of time frame (what do you want to achieve in, say, the next six, twelve to 18 months, how and when will you achieve your training goals, how will you expand your network and by when), and then reviewing the overall career plan.