Whatever stage you’re at with your career, the likelihood is that you will have the sudden revelation that you’re not sure where it’s all heading! That’s were career planning comes in. Some people are lucky enough to work in a role with a recognised, structured progression, for example most civil service roles, medics and legal professionals. The rest of us have the daunting task of balancing informed choices with the pragmatism to grasp unexpected opportunities. These are our tips for making the most of your career whilst staying sane.
Analyse your personal goals
Success is a subjective term and a fatal mistake can be to fall into someone else’s definition of what a ‘successful’ career entails. If you want to prioritise your salary and are prepared to work 14 hour days to achieve that then that same route is totally inappropriate for someone who would rather have the opportunity to travel the world during a gap year. If you aim to a leader in your field, your career plan will differ from someone who thrives achieving as part of a close-knit team. Some of us would love to own our own businesses, some would rather a stable position within a respected company.
No one route is better than the other and it’s important that you’re following your path and not that of your opinionated colleagues, the guy down the pub or even your parents!
Be aware and honest about your strengths and weaknesses
A satisfying, rewarding career is one where you know you are playing to your strengths. Most have us have been in the position where tasks that others seem to breeze through seem challenging, boring or senseless and equally experienced tasks which you enjoy and excel over your colleagues. None of us are perfect and successful people tend to be very good at identifying their weaknesses are, addressing them and delegating to others who can do that aspect better. Every job has it’s boring moments but your career plan should acknowledge your real strengths. If you enjoy working with people, nurturing and developing your team perhaps running your own company would be a good option. Equally if you thrive in a focused individual environment there are plenty of places for you to succeed. Doing what you love may seem like a pipe dream but doing what you are good at and can enthuse about should be at the heart of every career plan.
Don’t give up but don’t be scared to change strategy
Some very lucky people out there were born with a vocation. They knew exactly what they wanted to do from a young age and have pursued it with enthusiasm and determination ever since. For the rest of us, life is a journey of peaks and troughs, of confidence and of doubt. One of the key aspects of career planning is knowing when, or if, to give up. In recruitment we meet an awful lot of people who want to change careers and present CVs showing roles across a range of industries. Unfortunately this doesn’t always go down well with clients. Consistency plays well in the hiring game. What we also find is that it’s often not the career choice that was wrong but the company that the candidate worked for. If you don’t enjoy your job, it’s easy to assume that it’s the work but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as they say! There are so many factors that contribute to a job being fulfilling and it’s important to analyse your priorities before handing in the towel on your existing career.
Over the next couple of months we’re going to be providing more tips on career planning – check back for the guides soon!
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