Take Planning Your Career to the Next Step

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You plan your holiday meals; you plan your vacation; you plan your grocery shopping. But do you take planning your career seriously?

If you haven’t made a plan for what you’d like to be doing in the next five years, the next ten years, or by the end of your career, you may be missing out on great opportunities. It’s very tempting to float from one opportunity to another, climbing the corporate ladder as opportunities approach, but this approach may land you in a position you hate. Ask yourself a few questions to first determine where you want to be. Planning your career is an important task to make sure you’re where you want to be 10 years down the road.

Common Questions in Planning Your Career

1.) Do you want to be a manager?

It’s very common for someone who is very good at a job to become a supervisor or a manager of people who are doing that job. But that may not be the move you want. If you’re a specialist in some field, you may want to continue to specialize, deepening your expertise and following a career into consulting in that field. Managers spend a lot of time managing budget and HR issues. If that’s not  your cup of tea, find a way to stay in your specialty and still advance in your career.

2.) Are you in the right field?

If you’re in a field you hate, it’s time to make a move. Find someone in an organization that does the kind of work you want to do and start asking questions. How does one get into that field? What experience is required? Then start making the changes in your career to get that experience. You might have to make a move to another company that offers the experience you need. You might have to go back to school.

3.) Do you have the schooling or the certifications you need?

So few workers take advantage of the tuition reimbursement and training opportunities their companies offer. Nowadays, many reputable universities offer completely online degrees that will allow you to complete your Bachelor’s Degree or get a Master’s Degree. If you need certifications, ask your manager about training and getting the experience you need to earn that certificate. You might be surprised to find that your manager is interested in helping you.

If you have a great manager, he or she will be interested in not only planning your career, but being a great resource to get you to the next promotion. That’s one of the jobs of a great manager – figuring out how to help his or her employees advance and improve. If you trust your manager, be transparent with your aspirations. If your manager can’t help you (or you don’t trust your manager), reach out to your network and find someone who is in the position you want to be in to get advice on planning your career. Ask him or her out to lunch and find out how to get where you want to be. Networking is key. Don’t be afraid to take the first step.

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  1. It’s SO important to have a master plan for your career. What position do you want to hold in five years? What positions do you need to fill in the meantime to lead you there? What skills and training do you need? What is your ROI- what value do you bring to your organization? What industry do you want to work in and what company? How much money do you want to earn? What are your career values, i.e.,. those things that bring you satisfaction, e.g., recognition, autonomy, creativity, independence, advancement, etc. How do you want to work, i.e., telecommute 1 day a week? Knowing yourself and what you want is critical to achieving your career goals.


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