I’m sure you will have heard a thousand times from parents, teachers and other wise advisers, all about the importance of career planning. If you are one of the lucky few, this will prove easy. You will have known where you wanted to go ever since you were born, and can very clearly see the path you need to take to get there. But the vast majority of us are less fortunate, and when you don’t know what you want to do, having a career plan is impossible and pointless, right?
Even if you have no idea what your dream job is, it is still possible to plan to make sure you get it. If anything, planning is more important for those without a target, and can help you work out what you want to do.
However, it is important that your plan is not just a vague idea of what you might do at some point in the future, (this can actually hinder your progress) but an organised project that inspires you into action. Here are five ideas to kick-start your career plan:
1. Narrow your search. Even if you don’t know what specific job you want, work out what general area you would like to work in, and more importantly what you don’t want to do. This is the first step to finding something you like. Make a list of what you are good at and what activities you enjoy to generate a general target. For example, I want to be working in London in a customer facing environment
2. Talk to people. When someone askes “what do you want to do for a career?” don’t just shrug, engage with them. For example, tell them “I want to be working in London in a customer facing environment!”
They might have advice or, at the very least, you might realise what you really want from hearing yourself talk to others. You never know where an opportunity might come up, so put yourself out there.
3. Set yourself deadlines. This will make you more pro-active. Ask yourself where you want to be in a few years. For example, I will be working in management in five years’ time. Even if you don’t achieve it for whatever reason, you will be much further towards it then if you hadn’t set the target.
4. Be flexible. A plan should help you achieve your dreams, not hinder your professional potential. So if your situation changes, adapt the plan to fit the new circumstances. If you are offered a good opportunity with a new company, perhaps management can wait a bit, as long you are moving in the right direction.
5. Start immediately. Sometimes it can be tempting to procrastinate after you have come up with your plan, knowing it is there for the future. This is a common but costly error. Ask yourself “What can I do TODAY to help myself reach my goal?” If you identify someone that could be helpful to talk to, talk to them now. They may have an opportunity that won’t be there next week.
As one of the most memorable quotes from Ricky Gervais’ The Office revealed “it is better to be at the bottom of a ladder you want to climb then half way up one you don’t.” Even if you don’t have a perfect vision of your future, it is important to have a sense of direction so you can get on the right ladder. Ask yourself this today: “Where do I want to be, and what can I do right now to help me get there?” Good luck!
David Press, CEO, Proceed
Proceed is a new online recruitment tool which matches professionals with fewer than three months practical experience with employers looking for fresh talent within the Company Secretarial, Legal, Compliance and Risk sectors. Proceed is supported by high-profile organisations such as Eversheds and Axa and is fully endorsed by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA). For further information visit www.proceeduk.com.