How to Plan Your Career: a Strategic Approach

career management

The two most important questions that every job seeker faces at some point in their career are…

Why is career management essential?

What are the key questions to make a career decision?

All of us, at some point in our careers, face the question – are we working in the right job? This may be common if you have been thrown out of work and have failed to find another opportunity. However, this is not the only situation when you come across this question. Finding the answer to this question is what career management aims at.

While you may only consider career management at a time of crisis, it is a good idea to have a plan before you face a layoff. Whether you are a new job-seeker or have considerable experience in a specific field, you need to plan things well in advance. Career management involves creating this plan.

If you are wondering what you could or should do instead of your present job, you need to find a way out of this state of confusion. Many individuals seem to be stuck in a rut; not because they are incapable or unskilled, but because they are clueless about the management of their careers.

When you are in such a dilemma, you need to find answers to the five key questions to create your career management plan. The answers to these questions will direct you to the right career path.

What can you offer to an organization? Do not be a seller, be a marketer. Zero in on the things you have to offer to a prospective employer. Marketing yourself effectively is the only way to land up the right job opportunities.

However, do not be deceived into thinking that your academic and professional qualifications are all that matter. Apart from your skills and competencies, you may also bank on other points when applying for jobs. For example, if you have extensive contacts in a particular field, you may use this to market yourself.

Again, if you have close associations with potential customers of a product or service, you may find opportunities in the field with ease. This makes your professional experience a good selling point.

What do you want from a job? It is important to prioritize your needs and wants from your career. You may want a job that is completely different from your last one or you may want something similar. This depends on your personal choice alone.

You may include practical points such as higher pay or more flexible working hours in your list of wants; however, the list may not be confined to just these. Many professionals pine for intangible points such as better learning opportunities or more appreciation from the authorities in their list of wants.

While it is important to identify your needs and wants, it is even more important to prioritize them. Otherwise, you may become too picky about the job. You may also end up with something completely opposite to what you want!

What is your style of work? Do you have an analytical or action-oriented approach to your work? Are you a born leader of a big team or a competent member of a mixed team? Are you a hard worker or a smart one? You need the answers to these questions.

Finding out your working style is important for identifying the types of roles that suit you. It is also important for ascertaining the work environments that corresponds to your working style. Only when the style of your work and your working environment are compatible, achieving success becomes easier.

Moreover, it also ensures that you are not in a mismatched environment. For example, if you are more of a consultative professional, a target-oriented work environment may be quite inappropriate for you.

What options do you have? Developing a career plan requires understanding your choices and exploring them. It is important to determine the areas of work that interest you before you take any step in this regard.

Do you want to stay in the same field or in the same organization? Do you want a lateral or vertical movement within the organization? Do you want to change your line of work? Do you want to set up your own business? Finding answers to these questions is important for understanding the career options you have.

You need to do a thorough research about the career choices you have before you take the plunge. For this, you may talk to professionals already in the field of your choice. You may also talk to recruiters and career coaches to complete your research.

What can you do to achieve your goals? There are a number of things you can do, of which the most important one perhaps is to stay updated about your field of work. For this, you may enroll in a professional course from an institute of repute.

Another thing you must consider is your resume. Does it have the appropriate content? Does it have an attractive design and layout? If what you want to say and how you say it does not adhere to what employers look for, you may not be able to get even a single interview call. A little rework on the resume may be a good idea.

It is also important for your career that you make yourself seen and heard at the right places. Use your professional and social networking skills for this purpose. Also, make sure you participate in discussions, meets and events relevant to your work area.