Take Charge Of Your Destiny And Plan Your Career

Before you can begin planning your career you need to determine what field or area you would like to work in, and what skills you need to be successful. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Book an appointment with a career coach or guidance counselor.
  • Complete an aptitude test to determine where your natural strengths are.
  • Try volunteer work or job shadowing to get a hands-on perspective of your career of interest.
  • Talk to others already in the field to discuss their experiences and perspectives.
  • Check with professional associations, employment agencies, newspapers and complete online searches to determine the availability and salary ranges in your chosen field.

After you have completed the research portion of your career investigation it is time to establish a plan. The key to a good career plan is:

  • Be specific.
  • Set deadlines.
  • Identify needs and development options.
  • Set reasonable goals.
  • Stick to the plan.
  • Write it down and make it a working document.


Be specific

The more specific you are in your career plan the more accurate you will be in heading toward your career objective. The specificity is in both the language and the goals detailed on the plan. Instead of planning to advance in your career, be specific and state “Move up one pay level or supervisory level in the next 24 months. After you have the objective of moving up one level, then set deadlines for achieving this goal.

Set deadlines

Check for trainings and opportunities available in your area. Register for these events and commit to completing the trainings in a timely manner. If you are a procrastinator list the dates to register for conferences or events. Avoid goals that are open-ended such as “Take one course on Excel sometime in the next 12 months” and use “Attend the Excel course on May 12″.

Identify needs and development options

Make a list of the trainings and development options that you feel would help your career advance according to your plan. Don’t rely on just the minimum qualifications; strive to exceed the basic requirements. If you have any basic requirements that are missing on your resume these should be completed first. Keep continually upgrading and advancing in your training to stay current with industry standards and changes.

If you work in a field that is very generalized you may want to focus on an area that you could specialize in to help your career. For example, if you work in an IT industry you may want to focus on software development or networking rather than attempting to become proficient in all aspects of the field.

Set reasonable goals

Keep your goals reasonable to avoid frustration. Know the opportunities that are available in the agency that you wish to pursue your career in and set goals by that standard. If, for example, there is only one promotion per department per year it is unreasonable to set a goal that you will advance 2 supervisory levels in one year.

Stick to the plan

No matter how carefully you plan there will be situations that may arise that will send you in different directions. These unforeseen situations do not need to send you off course; rather use the opportunities to modify your plans to meet the current situation. Try as quickly and reasonably as possible to get back on the plan. Focus on the positives in the situation.

Write it down and make it a working document

Just the act of writing down the plan will help you stay with it. Remember however that things do change, so be flexible with your plan and take advantage of opportunities that come up that are not on your plan.

Use your plan to reflect and evaluate your progress. Discuss your professional development options with co-workers and managers to determine what is the best course of action to get you where you want to be.

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