The job market is a pretty scary place right now – and that is one of the best reasons to make a career plan. It’s all too easy to become stuck in a job that you’ve outgrown, or in a completely different job than you want, because the economy is slow. With organizations and businesses changing all the time, having a career plan has never been so important – and here’s why you should make one.
Always wanted to be a nurse? A fireman? A town planner? A lot of people have ideas for careers we might enjoy, but not everyone was lucky enough to go through school knowing exactly what they wanted to be. Note down any roles that really appeal to you, and make an effort to research whether you’d be suitable. Do you have, or could you get, the necessary qualifications? Is the pay enough? Will the hours suit your life? Having a plan of where to go and what to do next is invaluable for research purposes – it’s one of the best reasons to make a career plan.
2. Things Change Fast
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you be? Previous generations have picked their trade and worked in it for life, building their reputation and creating contacts and networks. These days, jobs feel a lot more temporary. A career plan lets you keep your eye on your final target, and gives you somewhere to keep certificates, appraisals and anything else that shows your experience.
3. Play the Long Game
Do you know what you want to do in retirement? Are you planning to own your own home by then? Will you have enough money to live comfortably, or are you going to get a part-time job? Where do you want to live? Whether you’ve got big plans to buy property abroad or want a simple retirement with the luxuries you are used to, the quicker you make a plan, the more relaxing the transition will be.
4. Be Vulnerable
Just as everyone has strengths, we all have weaknesses. Mine is selling – I just can’t lie, and I’m terrible at talking people into things! You might also have weaknesses connected to strengths – like I’m creative, but very fearful of criticism. Work out what your strengths and vulnerabilities are, so you can make sure you play to them throughout your career.
If your organization was restructured, would you want to stay where you are? Would you move to a different department, such as the legal team or HR, or would you build a role that suited you more, with elements of your job melded with things you enjoy? Organizations change all the time, and a career plan will allow you to prove your expertise and get ahead of the crowd if your employer announces a new structure.
6. Plan B
What is your back-up plan? What would you do if it all went wrong tomorrow? I’ve got friends who have gone self-employed after being made redundant, and magazines are full of stories about people who have become amazing make-up artists or therapists after an accident or circumstance made them lose their previous job. Having a Plan B won’t just make you feel more secure, it’ll act as much needed guidance if anything does go wrong, and put you to the front of the line.
7. End Your Dependency
Many people become dependent on their company or boss to control their career. Are you being challenged? Developed? If the answer is no, something needs to change. A career plan lets you reflect on what you can do, what you are learning over time and what you need to learn next. It’s an accurate reflection of how you are growing and developing, and it’ll show you if you’ve started to stagnate. Keep an eye on it, and you’ll notice when it’s time to jump ship for your own good.
8. Be in Control
Some companies used to employ specialists who’d analyse the careers of workers and make sure that they were being used to their full potential. Great at fundraising, or managing? They’d know, and put you forward for any roles you might be perfect for. That type of role is gone in most companies now, meaning you need to take charge of your own career. Do you want to fundraise more? Put yourself in front of the right people. Want to learn more about fundraising? Volunteer and see how much you can learn.
The conclusion? The top reasons to make a career plan are all about control. It puts you in control of your own career, your future, your education and your retirement – and you’ll get that amazing feeling of security, too. Has your career plan taught you something great? I’d love to hear about it!