2020 has been a year of career uncertainty for many, and you may have found yourself calling your career direction into question. But a career plan – essentially a list of short and long-term goals – can help set you onto a path to success. Here are Optimum Recruitment’s top tips on how to build your own career plan:

Identify what you want from your career and your work likes and dislikes

This sounds simple but is a critical first step. You need to understand what it is you like and dislike about your current job, and what elements of your career are most important to you, in order to know where you should be headed.

Maybe you dislike your current role but you love managing people. Maybe you love the creative elements of your role but dislike the strategy. Perhaps you need more purpose from your work, or you want a better paying position. Make a list of the things you’re looking for and prioritise them.

Set SMART career goals

Once you know your general direction, you should begin to set both short and long-term goals. And these should be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. 

An example of these goals could be: Within 1 year, I want to become a people manager with at least 2 direct reports. Or: In 10 years, I want to be the Finance Director of a FTSE 250 company.

You’ll want to regularly check back and review these goals to check they are still relevant to you, and that you’re on track to completing them.

Research your career options

You’ll now want to turn your wants/likes list and your SMART goals into a list of career options. These could include options within your current organisation (either promotion or departmental moves); positions within your current field; and/or a complete career change.

You can research other positions by reviewing careers guidance information, researching companies, talking to other professionals, consulting a coach or mentor, or by speaking to recruiters.

And remember to consider other external factors when assessing your career options, including current demand for the role and whether you need any additional qualifications.

Explore opportunities for advancement in-role

You don’t necessarily have to move jobs in order to advance towards your goals: exploring in-role opportunities such as training, mentoring or shadowing a colleague can help you to develop new skills. If you or your organisation has the budget, you may also wish to attend conferences and network with peers in your profession. Building a network is a great way to not only establish peer-to-peer learning opportunities, but also you never know who may be able to offer you, or connect you with, your next big break.

Create an action plan

Now that you know your destination and you’ve begun exploring ways to get there, preparing a written action plan is a good way to hold yourself accountable and continually progress towards your goals. Compile a list of actions that you’ll take every week, month and year.

Your list could include actions such as: I want to own my own consultancy business in 3 years. Every week I will write 1 thought leadership blog on my chosen consultancy field to establish my expertise. Every month I will contact 5 people on LinkedIn who could either mentor me or become potential clients.

You’ll want to regularly review these actions, just like you regularly review your goals, to make sure they are still relevant to you.

Meet with a recruiter

If you’re unsure about the feasibility of your goals and action plan, or you’d like advice from someone who knows the details of your field’s job market, it’s a good idea to speak to a recruiter. Recruiters can take a look at your CV and help you identify the gaps in skills you’ll need to fill in order to progress, and can also help you understand the level you’re currently pitching yourself at.

Optimum Recruitment are always happy to chat with job seekers who are looking to progress to their next opportunity. We’ve supported people of every seniority level in reaching their career goals, so if you’re looking for help or just want to informally chat things through, then please do get in touch.






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