Once you have your career plan it is important to remember that it is not an activity that should be done once and then forgotten about. Like your annual medical physical, you should go back to it each year to check your progress.
Here are 10 ways that you can start or improve your career planning.
1. Make a Yearly Date To Update Your Career Plan
I like to take time each year to step away from the noise of everyday life and reflect on my life and career goals. For me this an annual retreat but it can be as simple as a few hours to take stock of your goals. Making career planning part of your life plan and doing it every year will help you to adjust as your life and the market changes.
2. Check Your Progress
One of the first things to do when career planning is to check the progress you have made since you last made a plan. If this is the first time you have ever did any career planning just look at the history of your career thus far. Examine what you could have done better and what worked out well.
3. Take Stock
Try to go deeper in your review and examine what you have liked and disliked in your career path in the past year or several years. What jobs or projects were you passionate about? What led to great happiness and satisfaction? What were the reasons behind this? On the other hand what jobs or projects lead to anxiety and unhappiness? Make a two column list of the positive and negative around your career thus far. Also take a moment to discover what you want out of work. Is it fame? Money? Flexibility?
4. How to you relax?
Career planning is a great time to reflect on the ways in which you relax. Ask yourself what activities you use to relax, recharge and reconnect with your passions. This is important for two reasons. First because we need to make sure we are incorporating these activities into our life so that we stay fresh and energized in our careers. Second because by identifying these activities it will give us insight into future careers or projects that we can work on.
5. Recognize your wins
It’s important to identify your wins. These may have been goals that you accomplished or successes that came from your hard works and taking advantage of opportunities that came up. Identifying these will keep your motivated and also help you to reflect on the reasons behind your success.
Take some time to look beyond your current work and identify your transferable skills. What do you do really well that transcends your current job and career? It may help to take a self-assessment inventory such as StrengthsFinder or Myers-Briggs.
7. Assess Current Trends in your industry
It’s vitally important to understand the current trends in your industry. Is it growing? Shrinking? What are the immerging careers in your field? Which companies or increasing market share? The more your know about the job trends in your industry the better prepared you will be to adapt and change with the market. It does not take long to google around and find a few statistics about your industry.
8. Set SMART goals
SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. When setting your career goals incorporate these attributes so that your goals will be impactful.
9. Be a lifelong learner
Set a goals each year to improve your resume. This could be as simple as taking a free online course that improves your skills or as intense as getting an MBA. Whatever it is look for education, certificates or credentials that will not only help your current career but that will lead you to the career goals that you have set.
10 Do a mock job search
Take some time each year to do a mock job search. Look for jobs that you could see yourself doing and send in your resume and engage the recruiters. This will not only give you insight into the market but will also keep your resume and interviewing skills sharp. You should do this even if you love your job and feel perfectly confident in your career.