By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future
No one can design your Career Map for you. In fact no one, including yourself, can foresee the ultimate direction your career will take. What is a Career Map? It’s a continuing review of where you think you want to go with your career against the steps you believe are necessary to get there. Here are some elements to start your own Career Map.
You’ll always need two points of reference to start: First, your ultimate career goal. Second, where you are now. The rest is filled with plans, hopes, dreams and some luck. It’ll always be a working model, never static. The map will look something like this.
Don’t try to make your map perfect, as the time frames are 5, 10, or 20 years out.
First step is to pencil in your ultimate career goal at the final stage. It may change however, over time. Reality will dictate the end point as time goes by.
Second step is to identify where you are now. This is your starting point. You may find that your starting point may influence your ultimate career goal. Adjust it accordingly.
Third step is the tricky one. Lay out the successive steps you need to move between those two points. This sounds difficult, and it is. You’re looking for step-stones that may or may not be obvious to you now, but will emerge as time goes on.
Fourth step is to designate the time line between each step. The time-line is flexible because there are times when you’ll jump over a step, take a detour or find an alternative.
Once you have sketched-in your preliminary outline, work backwards from your ultimate career goal and ask yourself, “Where do I need to be (title or function) in the step before I achieve my ultimate career goal?” Then, “Where should I be in the step before that step?” And so on. Always work backwards. If you don’t know the steps required to reach your ultimate career goal, then maybe you should rethink your Career Goal.
Once that’s complete, work forward and apply a time-line from where you are now to the next step, then the next step, and on and on until you reach your ultimate career goal. Once you have the outline of steps, then you can move forward with inserting the variables. What are they? These are the detours or alternatives along your career that will help accelerate you to the next step.
There are an endless number of variables. Some of them are:
- Will you need an advanced degree?
- What professional association should you join?
- At what age should you be at each step?
- How many steps are there, given where you are now?
Look at your emerging Career Map as a “work in process”. It will modify over time, but the plan can keep you within a targeted direction.
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