The Power of Planning

For businesses, three-year and five-year plans are part and parcel of forecasting success: but why do we find it so difficult to incorporate this practice into our own personal career projections? With constant weekly, monthly and quarterly deadlines, it’s important to identify both your next steps at work and your long-term, holistic career goals.  The tricky thing about long term career planning is that what we want and need out of our jobs can change much more rapidly and often than we might think. In the early stages of a career, money and financial gain tend to take priority as the main motivation to stay in a job: but over time our priorities can shift to wanting more flexible working hours or having opportunities to travel. Alongside this, scoping out how jobs and careers will look in a job market with increasing rates of automation and remote working can be particularly difficult. With that in mind, it’s often those who manage to tap into the power of the long term plan who end up most successful. But how do we go about shaping these long term plans? And what type of goals should we be setting in order to successfully conquer our careers?

Work Backwards  If you have a clear idea of the job and industry you would like to work in, use this as a launchpad to help you write and develop your long-term plan. Once you’ve pinpointed a general direction of travel, it’s time to identify the key development opportunities you’ll need to undertake in order to progress in your chosen career path.  This part of your planning requires time and research in order to best understand how to access your chosen career. For most highly-skilled jobs, a set of specific professional or academic requirements must be met in order to be qualified enough for the position. As such, take the time to look at what specialised skills, courses or professional experiences that you may need to be qualified for your dream job. If you need a postgraduate degree in finance, for example, how will you go about attaining this? Which institutions are most highly regarded? And what do their graduates go on to do? Or perhaps you need specific professional experience in project management of budgets up to 3 million pounds. Can you find a way to progress to this level of responsibility in your current role, or will you have to look for another job to facilitate this?

Be Flexible but Focused  The key to a long term plan, is that it is just that- a plan and not a script. In the early stages of a career this often means taking the time to develop relevant transferable skills. Understanding the value of skills learnt in entry level jobs or service positions like waitressing and bartending and knowing how to sell these to prospective employers will make up a large part of the early stages of many career plans. Look at your current situation and work out how you can utilise your current level of skills and abilities to move into a job that is closer to your long-term dream. If you want to work in marketing for a human rights law firm but are currently working for a
corporate firm, think about how you can gain the relevant experience in understanding human rights issues. This might mean taking on some volunteer work in the sector, or attending public lectures, or maybe spending time reading and doing your own private research.

Identify your Shortcomings  Whilst it might be difficult and uncomfortable to do so, it’s vital to pick out your weaknesses or problem points in your offering as a candidate. Are there key skills requirements that recur in job opportunities that appeal to you that you don’t meet? Or perhaps you don’t have enough relevant experience? Or maybe you’re perfectly qualified and would do a brilliant job, but you just struggle at interview. Whatever the gap may be, it’s important to note it, and to think about how best to work through it to upskill yourself.

Put Pen to Paper It’s all well and good considering your strengths and weaknesses and thinking of how to best develop your career, but be sure to actually write your plan down. If you have a plan on paper, studies show that you are more likely to stick to it and hold yourself accountable. Even if the plan is still vague, write it down and put it somewhere you will see it often. For a rough template, write down your ultimate career goal, your current role or situation and three key development opportunities (which are dated and have specific measures) and write a short summary of how you will access and achieve each next step towards your dream job.

If you’d like some help in forming your own career goals, or you’re looking for help landing your next development opportunity, drop us a call on 020 3405 7879 or email us at​ / ​​ , we’d love to hear from you.