How To Write a Career Plan
“Failing to plan, is planning to fail” Alan Lakein. Creating a career plan is the first step to success. It’s important to research your industry and what’s available to you now and in the future. Consider any choices before you make them to give yourself the best chance of achieving success. Learning how to write a proper career plan will allow you to establish meaningful and achievable goals, how to reach them and any barriers you might need to overcome.
1. Start with the big picture
To start writing your career plan you first need to decide what your overarching goal is. This could include objectives such as earning a higher salary, reducing stress in your life, completely changing careers or getting a different job in your industry. Whatever your goal is, it’s important to identify what it is and write it down.
2. Figure out what motivates you
It’s important when writing a career plan, to figure out what your motives are and what you’re passionate about. For example, if you don’t like sitting at a desk all day you wouldn’t choose a job like accounting or administration.
What do you want to get out of a job? Perhaps it’s to help people recover from injuries, manage a large team of like-minded people or design buildings that people will look at in awe. This is a necessary step to move forward and establish if what you are doing is for the right reason.
3. Establish your current position
Before you jump into anything drastic, it’s important to assess where you are right now. You need to take an honest look at your life and evaluate your income, job position or where you are in your education. This will help write down the next step which is to identify your skills and start setting SMART goals.
4. Identify what qualities you bring to the table
Write a list of all your skills, experience, education and personal attributes that you currently possess. If you are considering changing careers think about transferrable skills that you could bring to a new company. Experience is easily obtainable once you have a job. However, not everyone has personal qualities such as the ability to manage a team or organise information systematically. Write down what sets you apart and highlight those going forward.
5. Set SMART, tangible goals
Start planning by getting a big piece of paper, putting sticky notes on a blank wall or writing on a white board. Create a timeline for yourself, where you are now and in how long you want to achieve your “main” goal. Whatever goals you set for yourself should be tangible and measurable in some shape or form. That is why it’s important to write SMART goals – smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. For example, If you are trying to improve your people management skills, rather than simply saying “I’d like to be better at managing people”make it more definite by saying “Over the next six months I will attend a leadership course to develop my interpersonal skills so that I am able to effectively communicate with a broader range of people”. Keep in mind that this end goal could be dynamic, and you will need to re-evaluate your goals as your career progresses.
6. Identify the barriers
Make a list of potential obstacles that could hold you back from achieving your goals. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reach them without a setback so it’s important to identify what they could be now, so that when they do appear you are ready for them. This could be a personal trait such as poor time-management skills or external factors such as an unstable job market.
7. Figure out how to overcome these barriers
As soon as you have written down any barriers it’s just as important to figure out how to overcome them so that you can reach your goals. If you have poor time-management skills, think about steps you can take to combat this. You could do something simple such as write ‘To Do’ lists at the start of every day and have a calendar of the month with important due dates. If it’s something out of your control such as a competitive job market or limited jobs it might be a necessary step to talk to a career advisor who can help you build connections and learn about the hidden job market.
8. Have a career advisor review your plan or make one with you
If you are unsure whether you have completed a successful career plan or don’t even know where to start, then seek advice from a career coach. They are experts at this and could be a great asset in planning your future with you so that you make the right choices now and set yourself up for success.
Whatever your career goals might be, by writing a career plan you are already far ahead of your competition. Creating a plan is not only a good idea but it’s how to be successful. It breaks down what could be perceived as something daunting and unachievable into small manageable tasks that you can do which will motivate you to continue.