A career plan is composed of short- and long-term career goals and your actions to achieve them. In addition, career plans can help you decide what classes to take and identify the extracurricular activities, research, and internships that will make you a strong job candidate.
Below are some helpful steps to guide you in creating a career plan customized to your interests and ambitions.
Tips to an Effective Career Plan
Identify Your Career Options. Develop a polished list of career options by exploring your interests, skills, and values through self-assessment. Narrow your career options by evaluating different career information, researching companies, and talking to professionals in the field. You can further narrow your list when you take part in experiences such as shadowing, volunteering, and internships.
Prioritize. It’s not enough to list options. You have to prioritize. What are your top skills? What interests you the most? What’s most important to you? Whether it’s intellectually challenging work, family-friendly benefits, the best location, or a big fat paycheck, it helps to know what matters to you — and what’s a deal-breaker.
Make Comparisons. Compare your most promising career options against your list of prioritized skills, interests, and values.
Consider Other Factors. It would help if you considered factors beyond personal preferences. What is the current demand for this field? If the demand is low or entry is difficult, are you comfortable with risk? What qualifications are required to enter the said field? Will it require additional education or training? How will selecting this option affect you and others in your life? Gather advice from friends, colleagues, and family members. Consider potential outcomes and barriers for each of your final options.
Make a Choice. Choose the career paths that are best for you. How many tracks or courses you choose depends upon your situation and comfort level. If you’re early in your planning, then identifying multiple options may be best. You may want several paths to increase the number of potential opportunities. Conversely, narrowing to one or two possibilities may better focus your job search or graduate school applications.
Set “SMART” Goals. Now that you’ve identified your career options, develop an action plan to implement this decision. Identify specific, time-bound goals and steps to accomplish your plan. Set short-term goals (to be achieved in one year or less) and long-term goals (to be achieved in one to five years).
- Specific — Identify your goal clearly and specifically.
- Measurable — Include clear guidelines to determine progress and accomplishment.
- Attainable — The goal should have a 50 percent or greater chance of success.
- Relevant — The goal is essential and applicable to you.
- Time-bound — Commit to a specific timeframe.
Create Your Career Action Plan. It’s important to be realistic about expectations and timelines. Write down specific action steps to take to achieve your goals and help yourself stay organized. Check them off as you complete them, but feel free to amend your career action plan as needed. Your goals and priorities may change, and that’s perfectly okay.
Career management is a must if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. You will likely work 40 hours a week for your entire adult life, and by managing your career effectively, you can make the best of those 40 hours.
Tip: Share your goals with your boss and gain a partner who can help you broaden your experience.
Developing your talents and skills will stretch your world and enable more of your unique contribution. This, in turn, can make your career successful.
To Career Growth & Development
Set goals and create a plan to achieve them.
Could your career development and management use help to gain momentum? People who are the most successful and satisfied in their careers have proactively determined what they want from work.
Develop a timeline, including milestones.
Bringing your boss and their sponsorship and mentoring into the picture will ensure that you have an internal mentor who will help you manage your career.
Utilize company programs.
Some companies have formal programs to help employees develop their careers. In others, you will need to pursue your career development informally. Companies with programs generally focus energy on assisting employees to develop and follow a career path.
Own your career path.
A career path can be discussed at several bi-annual meetings with your boss. In addition, some companies demonstrate a deep commitment to their employees by assisting with resources of time and dollars. First, however, remember that it is your career path.
Write it down.
Career paths are recommended for the same reason that goals are recommended. They are the written plan to help each employee take charge of what is most important to your fulfillment and success. Without a plan, you can feel rudderless, and you have no benchmark against which you can measure your progress.
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