Seven steps to create a career map

Seven steps to create a career map

“Where do you see yourself in five years time?” must top the list of appraisal questions – and generally receive the vaguest answers! Whilst some people seem to do well by accidentally being in the right place at the right time, most of those who succeed do not leave this to chance. Here is the 7 step strategy they use.

Accept responsibility for your development
Personal development can impact all areas of your life, so take control of the choices you make. Do you want to move on, up or increase satisfaction in your current job? Can’t decide? If your current role does not inspire you to achieve, your employer’s values do not match your own and there is little or no scope for change, it’s probably time to move on.

Skills audit
Take time out to run a self-audit on your achievements and career ideals. Are your goals pipe dreams or realist challenges? Identify what you need to do to achieve them. Identify explicit skills for a specific job and regularly top up transferable skills. Think. Do you need to develop a portfolio of broad experience rather than climb a ladder of logical job titles?

Work backwards
Set yourself a career goal for 12 months time. What is the immediate step before you reach that point? Work backwards to define the actions you need to take.

Action plan
Write one. Be clear about your objectives. Make them realistic and accept key changes are likely to be long-term, not instant.

Market yourself
You need to become a visible commodity – internally and externally. Volunteer for additional assignments or for secondment. Look at your responsibilities and those of your peers. What are the challenges facing your boss? Explore how you can help yourself by helping others achieve their objectives. Start networking; attend conferences and seminars, and make mutually beneficial contacts in other areas of your organisation. Ensure you sell yourself to prospective employers – do your homework and arm yourself with examples of how your experience matches their specific needs.

Do you need help?
Decide whether you are the type of person who would benefit from an external perspective on your career plans. A professional, experienced coach will keep you focused, motivated and receptive to feedback.

Feedback and evaluation
Ask your boss, colleagues, family and friends for their impressions of your new approach. Be open to comment, remain objective, be flexible. Take time to regularly reflect on the success of your career plan to establish what is relevant, what has been achieved and what remains a clear goal.