Career Planning

Planning is vital to any job change. However, most people don't plan their career in any great depth, further than their desire to earn a higher salary.

For example, if somebody asked you what kind of salary you would like to be earning, you would probably have a very clear idea of what that ideal figure would be.

But if the same person asked you what job you would need to secure in order to achieve that salary, you might be less certain that you could secure that job or feel confident about performing within that role.

So what is the solution?

Remember that the onus is on you to create your career vision and to market and sell yourself according to your professional aspirations. A career is not what you find, but what you create.


Become your Profession

A career is something you continuously build rather than a series of isolated jobs and instances. It is about increasing your knowledge and building up a portfolio of skills and experiences that companies both value and require. Too often people forget the building bit and get carried away by their emotions and by what seems a good idea at the time. This is when mistakes are often made – people dive into jobs without assessing the impact that it could have on their career.

So the key is to have a profession. A profession is what you do for a living, what you have spent time training to do or what you want to be doing. It is the crux of the career, giving it meaning, purpose and direction. Without it, a career will come unstuck, reach a halt or start to drift off on a tangent; a difficult track record to sell to an employer, to be sure.

Let other people help you plan your career

Watch, talk to and draw upon other people's professional knowledge, reputation and skills when planning your career. These people will be experts in their field and will be higher up on the career ladder, so their position, experience and expertise can help you further your own career. So how can these people help?

  • As a role model. Having a role model is an easy and worthwhile way in which to develop a career. A role model is a person you can watch closely to see how he/she deals with different people, situations and problems. The role model can pass on tips and techniques to save you time, energy and effort in the long run. Anyone can be a role model but it is usually someone in a position of power. But remember, the emphasis of this relationship is on learning and progression… not on being pals.
  • As a mentor. This relationship is different from having a role model because the mentor is not usually your boss but someone higher up than you in the organisation. The mentor benefits from the relationship because they are building up a reputation for developing people within the organisation. The benefit of a mentor is that they can offer you a confidential and open relationship because the mentor doesn't appraise you. The role of the mentor is to advise, encourage and speak from personal experience.

People who have fulfilling careers have made it that way. They have invested in themselves and they have used this investment to fulfil their dreams and expectations. In short, they have made their own luck.

Focus your energy on building technical and soft skills, learning from the people around you and creating a vision for the future. Become a real expert at your job and remember to sell yourself.