I have always taken to heart this saying "when you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail". No matter how hard we try with any other approach, true personal and professional success only follows careful planning and hard work.
How many of you are guilty of working hard in a career that just happened?
Imagine for a second how much more rewarding your professional life could be if you took the time to plan your career and orchestrate the steps needed to get to your dream job.
A successful plan will challenge you to look into the future, define your career objectives, identify competency gaps and research the resources you need to move forward.
So here are five simple strategies to help you pull together an effective career plan:
A) Where do you want to be in five years?
When you picture yourself five years from now, what does your career look like? Try to be as detailed as possible - carefully describe your position, your annual salary, really experience your daily tasks and zero in on what parts of the job you love and what value are you bringing to your employer.
You have to walk into the future space and work on bringing it back into reality
B) Where are you now and are you in the right place ?
Now that you have an idea of the great future career that is waiting on you, closely examine where you are now. Are you on track for steady career progression? Will your current job adequately prepare and equip you for long-term career success and career happiness?
If your ultimate goal is to become the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of a private firm then limiting your career experiences to a database administrator for 10+ years is not a good strategy
C) What new skills/strengths do you need for success?
Knowing where you are heading, now do an honest assessment of the key leadership skills, core competencies and job-related strengths needed for your "dream" job. Will you need to complete a new degree, do you need to expand your professional certifications, what skills/qualifications will be most important and relevant?
Don't wait until you are ready to make a move and then find out that you are not fully qualified, start preparing for your dream career today.
D) What is your personal brand and professional reputation?
By now, you should know that your internal and external perceptions play a critical role in your career advancement. What are you most frequently known for among your colleagues? What adjectives and personality traits are usually associated with you? Why do others want you on their team?
Knowing your personal brand and differentiating traits will be very instrumental in your career marketing strategies - remember, you want to build a strong reputation and attract a following now.
E) What resources or contacts do you need to build your career bridge?
No matter how hard working and dedicated you are, career success does not and will not happen in a vacuum. You will need the support of mentors, professional contacts, personal referrals, networking groups, industry associations and much more.
Recognize that reaching your career goal will take time, commitment, money, information, technology and other people - learn what you need to effectively succeed.