Are you crazy? How can I plan two jobs ahead?
Answer: It’s the difference between a strategic and tactical plan. The strategic plan looks out in time at your ultimate goal and the steps to get there. Tactical plan looks at the benefits of the next job only, without considering the future implications.
Short-term career decisions usually look at the title, compensation, bonus, ease of commuting, family considerations, lifestyle and immediate payback. Longer-term career decisions focus on potential for advancements, ability to develop new skills, relationship building opportunities, growth of the new organization, expansion possibilities, what you can learn from your new boss, professional development options, educational advancements, and so on.
What are some potential downsides of the tactical approach?
1. There may be a number of negative factors you should have checked out: A flat or shrinking organization, a consolidating industry, promotions based on length of service and not performance, your function isn’t seen an important, an autocratic boss, no upward mobility, lack of new skills development, and so on
2. A change in the industry or skills needed to stay current: Technology has supplanted the need for certain skills, the standards are changing that will pose a problem, or your new organization doesn’t believe in training its people: It buys talent from the outside when it’s needed.
3. The culture that seemed right during the interview is found to be inconsistent with your value system or your management style: Information is not shared, work groups are highly competitive rather than team-oriented, goals and objectives are murky, ill defined, or worse, as they change constantly.
What are the four strategic steps toward your ultimate career goal?
1. Define your ultimate career goal. If you don’t know your destination, no road will get you there. Be as realistic as you can after you do a reality check. Don’t put yourself in an unrealistic position before you even start. Always be adjusting to fit the situation.
2. Identify your current organization and skill level. What skills or experiences do you need for the next level? What are you missing? What must your new organization provide you in order to succeed? Certifications? Training? Opportunities? Other?
3. Lay out all of the steps necessary for you to achieve your ultimate career goal. What are the benchmark positions at each step? How many steps are there? Are you ahead or behind the curve? Can you jump over a step? Is there an alternative route to successive steps?
4. At each successive step you’ll need enough time to master the function and the skills that are needed for success. Look at each step in your career ladder and assess how much time each step will take before you’re ready for the next step. Do you have enough time?
Time, experiences and opportunity will determine if you’ll achieve your ultimate career goal.
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