Creating a career plan is the process by an individual to chart his/her career journey based on their skills, knowledge and experience as well as their personality traits. It involves being in touch with your career goals and being able to develop an effective plan on how you want to achieve them. A career roadmap will help you be more deliberate in the kind of opportunities you create or look for, the kind of jobs to apply, knowing when to make that career change move and making other informed decisions for the sake of your future. This article will help you understand and learn how to develop an effective career roadmap.
Begin with the end in mind
Before you can even begin developing your career plan, it is important to first determine where you want to be; your end goal. Just like any other journey, you first need to have a destination before you can begin. Come up with a clear vision for your career highlighting where you are now and where you want to be, for example, 5 or 10 years from now in your career. It could be in a managerial position or having started something of your own. After you have a clear picture of what this end goal is, you can start working your way backwards to what you need to do to get there
Take on a self-assessment test
Now that you already have an end goal in mind, go ahead and assess your skills and some of the strengths that you can leverage on. Most people often chose a career path that will probably earn them more money in the future. While this is an important aspect to factor in, you want to take on a career that you will enjoy.
This self-assessment process will help you determine what these things are. If you are having a hard time figuring this out, engage some of our friends and colleagues you’ve worked with and listen to some of the characteristics they point out.
After doing this, list down your top skills or rather your unique selling point and try and identify what careers match these skills. Your USP will give you a competitive advantage because you will offer skills and other industry-related knowledge that no one else can offer.
Research your field
The next step is to research on your specific industry area. You can agree that things are changing so fast today and that it is important to be always in the know of the current changes and trends in your desired industry. For example, if you wish to pursue a career in business management, it is important that you find out what qualifications are needed as well as if there is a need to further your education by taking a masters degree or any relevant training.
What are some of the jobs you can apply for and do they help to make you career vision a reality? Research on the salaries and other benefits that come with a certain career not forgetting to constantly engage with professionals already in the industry who will give you first-hand experience and advice on what you need to do. Research opens you up to new ideas and new career paths that will make you become more adaptable as well as prepare you for that planned career change in the future.
Make an informed decision
After comparing all your options after your intensive research, you are now more than able to make an informed career choice. As mentioned earlier, remember that your preferences may change over time and this may cause you to re-think the career path you have chosen. Do not burden yourself with the worry of having made the wrong decision. When the time comes and when you are ready, you can always change your career plan depending on how flexible and adaptable you are. For now, focus on choosing a career path that will lead you to your end goal; one that will help you achieve the vision that you set for yourself at step 1.
Come up with an action plan
Now that you have already decided which career path to take, it’s time to now develop an action plan. The best way to do this is by first setting SMART goals that will help to ensure that you stay on track. Here are some of the questions to help you set SMART goals;
- Are your goals Specific?
- Are they Measurable?
- Are they Attainable? (be sure to set realistic jobs)
- Are they Relevant? (do they feed into your end goal?)
- Are they Time-bound? (have deadlines that motivate you to work towards your goals)
An action plan ensures that you are as intentional as possible when charting your career path. Having these pointers and steps and being able to review your progress over time will also help you to encourage yourself forward as well as updating any new changes that arise.
Finally, and most importantly, seek counsel from career experts and from your mentors especially when thinking about making that career change or when you feel stuck. Be wise when looking for a career mentor as they will speak into the kind of career decisions you choose to make.
Developing a plan for your career can be a daunting process and journey. However, having people you can rely on when in need proves helpful and makes the process much easier.