Strategic career planning is essential for career development as it can help ensure that you remain focused. Incorporating strategies into your development can help you be better prepared to face any challenges along the way and also keep you engaged as time progresses. Effective career planning can be easy as long as you find the right strategies.
1. Ask for feedback
You need to get feedback because it can help make your goals more realistic. It can also steer you towards options you might have not been able to think of on your own and highlight skills and qualities you were not aware you possess.
Ask for feedback from people whose opinion you trust and who you believe will add value to your development plan. This could mean asking your boss for his contribution; although it could be risky to make your boss aware of your plans. But, if the two of you are close, s/he could add significant value to your development plan.
Of course, if you feel uncomfortable discussing such matters with your boss it’s understandable and you shift your attention to professionals in the industry that are highly experienced and have achieved quite a lot. If you don’t know any people like this, you can always network online. You’ll be surprised how willing the online community is to help you achieve your goals, so don’t shy away from making professional connections.
2. Conduct regular self-assessments
Other people’s opinions do matter when you are trying to formulate a plan, but your opinion is essential as well. Self-assessing can improve your plan as it can help you understand where you stand, how close or how far you are from your next goal and how feasible your next planned steps are.
Regular self-assessment is crucial, so plan ahead. Whether that’s every couple of months or after completing a step or achieving a goal, it’s important to know that you are going to take the time to sit down to review your progress.
It goes without saying that you’ll often be disappointed with your lack of progress because no matter how hard we try to plan and predict different situations, there’s no way you’ll be able to foresee every possible misstep. But, this is why self-assessment is so crucial; it will allow you to spot problematic areas and find ways to deal with them.
3. Make your goals manageable
The reason career plans are so effective is that they go past your end-goal, force you to create short-term goals and figure out the various steps that you’ll need to take to achieve these aims.
So, it’s important to plan for smaller goals because this will help you plan better and leave less room for mistakes. Planning for manageable goals can also be more motivating as you’ll get the feeling of achievement a lot more often which can help generate an overall positive outlook on your career development.
What you should note is that the smaller your goals, the more detailed your plan is going to need to be. So understand that it might be more time-consuming at first, but it will be worth your time in the long-run.
Perhaps the best career planning strategy is to continue your education. The benefits of lifelong learning are many. It will not only help keep your skills current and protect you from losing your job, but it can also make you very excited about your industry, and push you to achieve better things.
Continuing your education will help you understand and remain up-to-date with industry related changes, and this will be beneficial when you’re planning or updating your goals. It also goes without saying that the new skills you’ll acquire through education will also push your potential.
Many professionals are hesitant about continuing their education because of the cost, but if you research the matter thoroughly, you’ll find that there are many options to help you with funding your studies.
5. Set milestones
Setting milestones is a career planning strategy that will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. Milestones are achievements that are important to you; a milestone could be getting your Master’s degree, or maybe finding clients to do some freelance work. Whatever they may be, milestones matter as they are stepping stones that will allow you to further your career.
To effectively plan your milestones, you need to consider what really matters to you and what would be most rewarding for you to achieve. If your end-goal is to change careers, but you first need to acquire a different set of skills, your milestones could be achieving those skills.
It’s also important to celebrate your milestones as this can help motivate you. So do something that is special for you each time you reach a milestone and make sure that you take the time to update your development plan as well.
6. Create a vision board
Creating a vision board is another career strategy you should consider as it can help you visualise success and motivate you. Olympic athletes have been using visualisation techniques for years, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using this strategy.
What’s great about vision boards is that they are small enough to fit on your desk which means that you can be reminded of your goal on a daily basis and thus get more motivated to push forward.
If you are quite tech savvy there are lots of applications that allow you to build vision boards, so check out some of the best apps here.
7. Conduct a SWOT analysis
For strategic career planning you should also consider conducting a SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis stands for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and can be very powerful because it can help you uncover opportunities that you might not have been able to uncover otherwise. Understanding your weaknesses can also help you proactively deal with situations that might hurt your career and your progress.
To perform a successful SWOT analysis start by thinking about your strengths. What advantages do you have that others don’t? What achievements are you most proud of? What personal resources can you access? It’s important to think of your strengths in relation to the people around you.
Once you’ve uncovered your strengths think about your weaknesses. Are there any work related duties you avoid doing because you are not confident? What are some negative habits you have at work? Could your personality get in the way of your career?
Next come opportunities so think about what growth opportunities are available to you. Could technology help you achieve your goals? Is your industry growing? What could this mean for you?
It’s also important to consider the threats that could hurt your career. Are there any obstacles you are facing at work? Is your industry changing? And more importantly could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?
8. Use SMART goals
Another career strategy you should most definitely consider using is SMART goals. SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals and they are an effective way to track your goals and progress.
Specific refers to your ability to know exactly what you are hoping to achieve and why it matters to you. Measurable refers to tracking progress which is essential to motivate and boost your work performance. Achievable is setting realistic and attainable goals and to do that you need to consider what you can do and whether your goals are dependent on others. By setting relevant goals you are ensuring that you are not getting sidetracked from your vision and that the goals you’re setting matter to you. Time-bound is to ensure that you remain within a time framework which can ultimately help you achieve you goals.
9. Hire a career coach
Sometimes, planning your career can be very overwhelming and as much as you try to figure things out on your own, you might need to ask for help from a career expert and this is where career coaches come in.
These professionals are trained to help other people achieve their goals and can help you set manageable goals.
Hiring a career coach can help you overcome any obstacles you’ve been setting for yourself so don’t hesitate to look for one that fits your needs.
10. Keep yourself up to date
One of the most effective career planning strategies to use is to simply keep yourself in the loop about any changes that are happening with your industry. If there’s a new tool or practice that everyone’s converting to, you need to be one of the first people to introduce this concept to your company.
Continuing your education will help keep you up to date, but it’s important to take other measures as well. Read industry news and journals, connect with influential people in your industry and be proactive about learning all the latest changes in your industry.
Applying effective career planning strategies to your development plan will ensure success. It’s important to identify which of these strategies better suit you and find ways to include them in your career plan.
Have you ever used any of these strategies? Did you find them effective? Let us know…