If you throw a dart without intention, do you call whatever it hits your target?
Often, we do just this with our careers. Many of us found ourselves in our first job because it seemed to pay well enough, or they had an opening, or it seemed somewhat interesting. Perhaps we continue to build a career on the foundation of that initial job because more opportunities opened up with the organization, or there was an increasing need for our skills in the market. One day, many of us wake up to realize that we have built a career—and a lifetime—around a random target. If you are considering a reassessment of your current work situation, a job change, or a career change, it is not too late to define a target, aim that dart, and succeed.
Career planning is a lifelong process that includes choosing an occupation, securing a job, developing in this job, perhaps changing careers, and eventually retiring. Making solid career choices can dramatically change your life. If you use a standard process to select an occupation, you will ensure that career choices are made objectively, and methodically. Making a career choice may happen just once in our lifetime, but it is more likely to happen several times as we define—and redefine—ourselves and our goals.
There are many benefits to career planning. Through careful planning you can achieve your goals without devoting a lifetime to the effort. Managing your career gives you the power to determine your own destiny. You will no longer be defined by your job title, your organization, or what people think you ought to be doing. Through personal assessment, you can identify strengths to leverage and development opportunities. This provides you with a competitive edge. We have identified a 10-step process to assist all of those interested in actively managing their careers.
Job satisfaction is at an all-time low. Given that we spend more than half of our lives working, who wants to devote all of that time to an unsatisfying career? So, what are you waiting for?
Step 1 – Change
Do you want to change your job or career?
Assuming that you determine you want to change careers, where do you start?
Step 2 – Vision
We begin by developing a vision for ourselves. Oren Harari offers the following definition of vision: “Vision should describe a set of ideals and priorities, a picture of the future, a sense of what makes the ‘person’ special and unique, a core set of principles that the ‘person’ stands for, and a broad set of compelling criteria that will help define…success.”
In order to create a positive vision, you may want to keep the following tenets of a good vision in mind.
• Develop a mental model of a future state • Be idealistic • Set standards of excellence that also reflect high ideals
• Clarify your purpose and direction • Develop a vision that inspires enthusiasm and encourages commitment
• Make sure your vision in well articulated and easily understood • Be ambitious
Conduct a personal assessment of your skills, interests, values, and needs. Gathering information about yourself is a critical step. What skills do you have to offer your current or future employer? What are your strengths, talents, and gifts? What sets you apart from other people? What strengths do people identify with you? What skills do you need to achieve your vision? If you are struggling with this, you might want to gather feedback from your boss, colleagues, friends, and family.
There are four general categories of assessment: skills, values, personality, and interests. As we talk with our clients, we explore this subject further. We also employ a number of assessment methods and tools to help clients gain clarity around their strengths, interests, and values.
Identify possible occupations, research those careers you consider interesting, and evaluate them. When researching potential occupations, you may consider talking to friends and acquaintances involved in these occupation, while reading about the profession on your own. When you evaluate your options, take a logical, pragmatic approach. Take into consideration the job description, working conditions, job outlook, and earnings. We recommend that you select a short-term and long-term option.
Once you select your short- and long-term career options, set goals to help you prepare for a move into your new career. Setting goals will allow you to achieve more, to improve performance, to experience pride and satisfaction in your achievements, and to improve your self-confidence. (As you achieve goals, you will have confidence to achieve more.)
Be sure to use the SMART principle when creating your goals. For those unfamiliar with the SMART acronym, it stands for “Specific” (put it into words), “Measurable” (how will you know if you are making progress), “Attainable” (is it possible), “Relevant” (does it relate to your vision), “Timed” (attach a date to accomplish it).
Identify development opportunities to achieve your goals. Consider your technical, professional, industry, business, and leadership skills. It is important to develop weaknesses but it is even more important to leverage your strengths. Leveraging your strengths is the key to success. Step 7 Create a career plan. This plan should be a single, consolidated document that lays out your …. and leading you to achieving your goal. It is a strategy that will enable you to hit the bulls eye.
Now it is time to implement your career plan. You can use it as a guide or map to pursue your long- and short-term goals. Follow your guide as you develop a job search strategy, write your resume, prepare for job interviews, and develop your skills.
It is important to keep a log or journal of your progress. We recommend that clients purchase a journal to keep track of their thoughts as well as their progress.
This is another area where coaching can make all the difference. We help our clients achieve their goals by challenging them, holding them accountable, and keeping them motivated. We also work together to determine when clients need to revise their plans.
Celebrate your successes along the path to your short- and long-term goals.
In summary, the 10 steps to manage your career provide a simple, methodic, and logical means to “hit the bulls eye” in your professional life in 2012. #1 Change #2 Vision #3 Assess #4 Brainstorm #5 Research #6 Goals #7 Prepare #8 Execute #9 Review #10 CelebrateLeverageHR (Twitter)