Career planning isn’t just restricted to people who are frustrated and looking to leave their job, it also applies to those who are happy in their current organisation but hungry for the next challenge, promotion or simply want to increase the depth and breadth of their knowledge and skills and become the “go to expert”.
The characteristics that are going to have the most significant impact on your success and satisfaction are self confidence, self belief, results orientation and a genuine enthusiasm and passion for your subject.
The majority of us will be in paid employment for a number of our adult years and if you want to remain satisfied, motivated and productive during your career it’s wise you select the job that best suits your interests and is aligned to your values.
Having a career plan is not a one off exercise – that’s why it’s called a “Continuous Development Plan”. It’s a long term commitment to learning, developing, growing and striving to improve your skills, knowledge and competence.
If career advancement, promotion and progression are important to you then there are a few strategies to consider in your current position.
Keep the end in mind
What’s your career goal? Where do you want to take your career? What are you personal career objectives?
If you don’t know where you are going…you may end up somewhere else! You may as well hand over your career to someone else to make the decisions.
I’ve interviewed many candidates over the last six years who don’t have a career plan – they are justifying not having a plan because they think you cannot possibly have a plan in these troubled economic times or this rotten labour market!
No one said you couldn’t have a flexible plan but you wouldn’t jump on the first bus or train and not check whether it was going in vaguely the direction you wanted to eventually end up.
Having a plan means you are selective and considered. Having a plan means you can weigh up and assess whether opportunities and tasks are going to take you in the right direction. Having a plan means you can prioritise and manage your time appropriately and make sure everything you do and everyone you network with is contributing to your career advancement. This type of calculated decision making process will go in your favour when you want to be considered for promotion.
Managers will know if you are genuinely interested in working in their team – well thought out reasons and decision making processes about your career will make you stand out from the crowd.
Most people tend to think of networking as an external activity. However, networking internally is often overlooked and a missed opportunity. If you know the direction of your career then you’ll know who to network with and build relationships with the people that will influence your future career.
For example, when I worked in a corporate bank in the City, our ambitious employees were particularly good at networking internally. They would be very comfortable approaching directors and heads of department to meet and discuss what they had to do to be considered in the future for that business area. It was the most positive example I’ve witnessed of building excellent long term mutually beneficial working relationships.
They also did something that would definitely increase their chances of success in the future – they met objectives and exceed expectations in their current role. Even though each job is a stepping stone to the next job (when you have a plan), they would work really hard to do a good job, knowing this would be seen by their next manager in the business.
By the time these employees applied for an internal vacancy (generally a promotion or career progression) they’d already built up excellent credibility and good working relationships – even before they’d attended the interview.
Who in your organisation can help you in your career?
Keep up to date and informed
Research and regularly read the news in your sector. This has several benefits to your existing career and any future career – keeping up to date with the latest legislation, regulation changes, competition, trends, can mean getting the next promotion or not!
If your objective is to become the “Expert” in your field you better be up to date – it’s going to be awkward and embarrassing to miss an important change in the industry and be caught out!!
Dedicate time every day to reading the professional journals, relevant newspapers, or sign up to news updates in your sector. If you are a regular commuter then this is an ideal time to read the latest news – you can always nap on the journey home!!
Positioning yourself for promotion doesn’t usually happen overnight – so you’ll need to spend time broadening your experience, skills, and knowledge and that’s why it’s so important to do something you enjoy and have a plan.
Having a satisfying career is not just about the destination – it really is about your continuous journey.
Dawn Moss has been an in-house recruiter within corporate environments for more than a decade and has probably interviewed thousands of candidates during her career. She is also the author of Get the Interview & Get the Job!! She is passionate and really enjoys supporting both hiring managers and candidates through the interview process.