Having a career plan is essential to achieve your career goal. A flexible career plan should:
- Target your ultimate goal
- Identify where you are now
- Define the multiple steps and the skills needed at each step to get to your ultimate goal
- Outline the range of months or years needed at each step
You should also understand the “stall points” that indicate if you need to recalibrate your dream. Maybe your current job turns out to be a disaster or you can’t find the perfect job at the next step. Other times you may need to change your industry. Each example will impede your career plan.
So, what are the key questions you need to ask of yourself? Here are a few:
- Do I see opportunities where I am, or somewhere else? Will I stall out if I stay?
- Do I have unique skills that are in demand or have the same skills as everyone else? You must differentiate yourself from all others.
- Do I have the educational background or certifications to position me above the rest? In a tie, the one with the most credential usually wins.
- Are your strengths pushing you up the ladder or are your weaknesses pulling you down? Lead with your strengths but shore up your weaknesses.
- Are you still energized at day’s end or worn-out? Passion and the love of what you do are the drivers of any career plan.
- Is the company and your boss supporting you? Support has to come from somewhere.
- Look for the signs of success or lack thereof. Just like a baseball batter, you may keep fouling off the ball, but you’re still at bat. Striking out a dozen times is a pattern of concern.
- You can’t change functions or industries without a cost in time and momentum. Moving from finance to marketing or mining to consumer goods is very difficult and costly in time lost.
What do I do if my dream becomes unreachable?
- First, check it out to make sure it can’t be reached:
- Talk with someone who is either at the step above you or a person who has achieved your ultimate goal. They should be able to give you some insight about your alternatives.
- Talk to friends, family and colleagues that you trust. It could be very simple like a needed certification, the way you dress or your current compensation (too high or too low).
- Adjust your ultimate goal. Instead of a CFO position for a Fortune 500 company, it’s a CFO position in a mid-sized corporation or a division CFO of a large corporation.
Take a deep breadth and objectively assess your current situation. Talk with a recruiter in your specific field. A recruiter knows how you stack up against your competition. But be ready for information that may be difficult, as your self-assessment may fall short of what you want to hear.
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