7 Ways to Career Plan Effectively

In Elementary school, I was under the impression that when you graduated college you were handed both a degree and a career path. “Congratulations on finishing 16+ years of education, here is what your career path looks like based on those 16+ years!” You may be chuckling to yourself, but you can’t blame seven-year-old me for imagining this to be the case. However, it turns out that a “career” is a much more complex and mutable beast than 7 or even 21 year-old me thought it would be. Careers take planning, but planning something as capricious as a career can seem a daunting task. Before you panic, take a deep breath. There are some easy and often enjoyable ways to career plan effectively without becoming overwhelmed.

  1. Imagine your future. Career planning isn’t all about quantitative, measurable progress, so your approach doesn’t have to be a rigid one. Just imagine where you want to be next year. In five years. In ten years. Can you see yourself working in the same job you hold now? Are you still happy? Picture your life in the future, and then ask yourself how you might have gotten there. If you’re lacking focus, Career Solutions Group can help you uncover what careers would be most fulfilling for you.
  2. Reflect on the past. Look at your career path so far. What things have you done that you are the most proud of? Are there any experiences you would rather not repeat? Reflect on your experiences up to this point, and evaluate what was most successful.
  3. Consider what activities give you pleasure. It may seem cliché, but finding and pursuing your passions can make your work life so much more enjoyable. Think about what skills you find fulfilling, or what job(s) you’ve held that gave you the most pleasure. As a personal example, I am very passionate about writing. When I began my job hunt, I tried to focus in on careers that would enable me to do writing as a portion of the position. Here at Career Solutions Group, I get to write quite a bit about topics I believe to be important!
  4. Set (realistic) goals. You might want to become a multimillion dollar business tycoon, but your career plan should NOT be “Step one: become multimillion dollar business tycoon, end of plan.” Instead, set reasonable goals that you can realistically attain, and see them as steps towards larger aspirations.
  5. Remember & write down your accomplishments. What have you accomplished that you feel the most proud of? Oftentimes, you have accomplishments you don’t even remember until you sit down and think about them. Not only will this help you career plan, but it will provide you with valuable input for your resume.
  6. Explore the possibilities. New jobs with new titles and new skill needs are emerging all the time. Fifteen years ago, my job as a social media specialist didn’t even exist. Keep up to date on what opportunities exist for someone with your interests and qualifications. You never know what you might find.
  7. Dig deep. The hardest part of career planning is identifying specifics paths. You may have a broad idea of what you want to do, but no specific titles or industries. So dig deep. Do research. Go onto LinkedIn and read the profiles of people who do what you want to do. Read job descriptions on monster.com. Or even come visit us here. At Career Solutions Group, we can help you take a broad idea and refine it to a career goal.

A lot of career planning boils down to knowing yourself. Do some personal investigation, and find out what inspires you. Do some research, and find out how to get there. You can do it! If you are still struggling, or want to find some direction, contact us at info@careersolutionsgroup.net. We offer free initial consultations, and we’ve helped hundreds of job seekers identify and pursue their career goals.

By: Julia Pillard, Career Solutions Group