Use these ten steps to help you formulate your own plan for success in today’s tough market. Even if you’re already established at your job, you can set new goals to help keep you motivated and moving up the ladder.
Many people are afraid of change. What they know is comfortable, so why bother? There are plenty of reasons. More opportunities, promotions, better pay, confidence and self-awareness being just a few of them. Read through this list for help making clear and concrete goals you can to better improve or change your career. You have to experience some change eventually, you might as well prepare for it ahead of time.
1. Accept Reality
Before we begin, in past generations it was possible to be with one company your whole life. The business paid benefits and you were rewarded for your loyalty and hard daily work. Not so today. Let’s face it. During your lifetime you will have many jobs. It’s knowing how to plan for something you really want to do and following an ordered path, that will help lead you to your goal.
2. Know Thyself
Knowing what you want is the first problem. Maybe all your life you thought you would be one thing. But as you grow, experience challenges, and take on new ideas, most likely your first set of career goals look naïve to you now. Now that you know nothing remains the same, go with that attitude and look at career goals as something that evolves, improves, (or even stagnates) as you march through life. No one feels the same everyday and by accepting that there will be peaks and valleys in both your mood and objectives makes this a more realistic plan.
3. Examine Skill Sets
Take the time to assess the relationship between what you know, your previous education or experience, and then determine how you can connect those things to your hopes. On paper, write out your strengths such as: able to follow through on big projects; your skills such as: knowledge of computer software; your aptitude: such as talent for troubleshooting; your experience, such as: have worked in offices as large as 150 people and as small as 3. Also, look at non-work activities and hobbies to figure out if you can capitalize on a favorite pastime or passion. Use concrete examples to describe your skill sets because generalities just sound like false horn-tooting.
4. Look Ahead
Use a crystal ball. Ask yourself: where you would like to be in five years time? How much money can you see yourself making realistically? What additional skills, training or education will you need to achieve your advance goal? What else would you like to change? For example, maybe you need less commute time. Think in specifics about your needs.
5. Let People Know
It’s a fact that the best job is often made through connections. Let your family, friends, and other people who care about you know that you are looking for a change. If asked, tell them in explicate detail where you are headed. Sometimes they may know someone, who knows someone, who has a lead into the business you are interested in. Just like social networking, use your connections.
6. Get Documents in Order
Keep a constant log of your accomplishments because they (and the time that they happened) are easy to forget. Update your resume and make sure it is relevant to the job you are looking for. For example, retail sales experience might not be relevant to nursing but if you received a marketing award—that fits in nicely with public relations—these are called transferable skills. Here’s another example. If you were a newspaper reporter, you can write, interview, research, investigate, manage information, multi-task and meet deadlines—skills that apply to lots of other disparate jobs.
7. Study How to Interview
Interviewing causes some people to panic. If you need to, role-play with a friend. Think out what you can say to counter leading questions. For instance, employers often ask interviewees how much they expect to make. If you don’t know what the job pays, ask at the time of the interview set-up call. If you still can’t find out, say that you are willing to negotiate based on the company’s suggested pay for that job’s duties and responsibilities. And learn how to pronounce the interviewer’s name.
8. Continue to Educate Yourself
Review careers that may have a change on the horizon or find out about the trends in jobs. In this economy many businesses can’t afford to operate and the forecast for a particular job may be dwindling. It is important to see what section job growth will occur and continue to climb. Use the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career Guide to Industries 2012-2013 at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/
Need more education? You can always enroll in a distance learning class where you can study, learn, and work on assignments at any hour of the day. These learn-at-your-own-pace courses can add credits to your education and up your degree.
Another good point. Join a professional organization. Who knows? You may meet your future job at an annual training event. Often associations will have student membership rates for new members, but it will still allow you the same benefits and privileges as the professional members and you can attend training conferences and conventions.
9. Be Indispensable
What about entering a new career from entry level? For example, Tina was a receptionist at a nonprofit children’s advocate center. She had aspirations of working for the company founder and knew she had the chops to do the job. She asked if she could help the other executive assistants but no one recognized her work or talents. Then Tina changed direction and asked about in-house training programs she might attend and made it known to her manager that she was interested in an executive assistant role. Tina was put into a training program and now works for the director of the organization. The lesson is: if you can demonstrate you are willing to take little steps, you could go farther.
10. Update and Reassess
Continue to reevaluate what you want, map out the path toward getting there, and focus on career planning on an ongoing basis. Set achievable short-term goals, continue to educate yourself, become more visible, and look for career enhancing opportunities. If it will help, plan backward from your goal to see your future and the steps you need to take to get there.
Resources & References
"Best Way - Career Building Tips | eHow.com." eHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles. http://www.ehow.com/way_5154020_career-building-tips.html (accessed August 22, 2010).
"Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition." U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ (accessed August 22, 2010)
"Problems in Choosing a Career | eHow.com." eHow | How To Do Just About Everything! | How To Videos & Articles. http://www.ehow.com/facts_4810591_problems-choosing-career.html (accessed August 22, 2010).