Our Guide to Career Planning
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you will make throughout your life. Regardless of where you are in your career, it can be extremely overwhelming and easy to lose track of your goals. Having an effective career plan to practically reach your goals helps you keep focused whilst always pushing you to thrive. This insightful Guide to Career Planning exposes the Do’s and Don’ts of career planning so that you can swiftly glide into your career journey!
What is a Career Plan?
By a career plan, we mean a strategic list of steps that you need to take to reach your goals. When devised effectively and followed diligently, a career plan will lead you to your career path, making sure every decision you take is focused on your end goal.
At Evenfields, we stand by planning. However, it is not enough to simply make a plan – you must also take proactive action to bring those steps to life. Remember, goals with no action will only ever be dreams and never reality!
Let’s now go through what you need to do to devise an effective career plan.
1. Visualise your End Goal
We need to know where we want to be to have a good plan. It is helpful to start by focusing on what you want your life and your career to look like.
Think about the following:
- What does it feel like?
- What does it sound like?
- How are you dressed?
- Where are you living?
- What do you get up and do every day?
- Who is on the journey with you?
It is also important to think about what values you are going to be looking for in your employer. Once this is established, coming up with a job search strategy will be much easier because it will immediately throw some job roles and companies out of the running, whilst making your career path and progression much more streamlined.
Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us to determine what is important to us. Values in a narrow sense are that which is good, desirable, or worthwhile in our lives. Think about the Personal Values that you might identify yourself with (such as autonomy, creativity, variety, structure, work-life balance, security, prestige, financial reward, recognition, working conditions, working relationships, altruism, etc), as well as the Organisation Values that you are looking for in a company (such as integrity, honesty, trust, commitment to customers, passion, leadership, diversity, innovation, etc). Once both lists are ready, you will be able to clearly see what roles and companies are right for you, as well as those that are not.
TOP TIP: If you’re stuck on what values you think are important to you, there are many personality and career tests available on the internet that provide insightful advice and guidance (we particularly recommend the 16 Personality Test and Truity Career Test).
2. Identify your Career Options
Now that you have an idea of what your future looks like, and of what is valuable to you, it is time to choose a specific career path. A good place to start is by thinking about specific skills that you have or hobbies that you really enjoy and are good at. You can also ask family and friends about their career – if they are happy doing what they do and how they secured those positions. Put all of these into a list and then research the qualifications/ experience that you need for each one of them. You can also research a specific industry or company that you are interested in, and attend job and careers fairs – this is a great way to discover new roles, industries, and companies.
Here are some common career sectors and options that might be of interest to you, and that might help you think of what you would like to work in:
- Business management
- Creative and entrepreneurship
- Human Resources
- Marketing and Advertising
- Social services
Once you have identified the career options for you, go back and research all of them: what do you need to get started? What qualifications do you need? Is a specific amount of experience needed? How can you easily and quickly gain some experience? What recruiters in your area specialise in those industries? Where are the biggest companies in those industries situated in your area? Make sure you know exactly what you would have to do for each career option so that you can easily move on to step 3: making a career decision.
3. Make a Career Decision
Understanding more about yourself, discovering new career options, and researching everything about those possible career paths are probably the hardest steps of your career plan. But once that is all done, it is time for the exciting third step – to make a career decision!
We cannot tell you what to choose or how to choose a career. But if you are indecisive about what role or career to take, think about what is making you hesitant. Is it the industry? The specific role you have been looking at? Is it what the job will entail?
Whatever the reason may be, the best way to make a decision is by trying out your options. Connect with people doing the job that you want at the company you want to ultimately work at, and ask them about their job – if they enjoy it, what they like the most and the least about it, how they got there. You can also go through your connections and ask if you can do some work experience at their companies. Networking is very important as it enables you to discover things about the careers you are interested in that only experienced professionals would know, as well as allowing you to experience your prospective careers and be able to conclude whether or not you would like to pursue them.
For more on networking, read our social media and networking blog here.
4. Set SMART Goals
Now that you’ve made a career decision, it is time to develop an action plan – the final step of your career planning! In the Black Careers Matter masterclasses that we run at Evenfields, we go through SMART goals as one of the most effective ways to materialise your goals. You can do this by identifying specific, time-bound goals and steps to accomplish your plan, setting short-term goals (to be achieved in one year or less), and long-term goals (to be achieved in one to five years).
- Specific — Identify your goal clearly and specifically.
- Measurable — Include clear criteria to determine progress and accomplishment.
- Attainable — The goal should have a 50 percent or greater chance of success.
- Relevant — The goal is important and relevant to you.
- Time-bound — Commit to a specific timeframe.
It may take weeks, months, and even years to get to the career of your dreams, especially as what you see as the career of your dreams might change and shift as you embark on your career journey. It is normal to get started on a role or industry and realise it wasn’t the right path for you after all. Referring back to this career plan and guide is then helpful to reformulate your goals and steps to achieve them.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, Evenfields Careers and Evenfields Community is a great place to start your career planning journey. Follow our social media pages for daily employability tips and advice, as well as our LinkedIn and Facebook groups (where you will be able to connect with hundreds of professionals from various fields in the UK). For more information and guidance, please check our range of Black Careers Matter employability courses, which cover social media networking and lots more!
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