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The Key To Attaining Professional Success: An Effective Career Plan

Here are some career statistics for you:

The average person switches careers at least seven times in their lifetime.

Only 28% of Millennials believe that they want to stay in a job for more than 5 years.

The average person spends at least a third of their lives working.

These statistics shed light on people's, especially Millenials, current work habits and expectations. The best way to manage these expectations is by having a career plan. When you spend so much time at work, a robust career plan will ensure that you are achieving your work goals and not remain stagnant. If you are planning to switch careers, a career plan will map out these changes and smoothen the transition. Consequently, a career plan is an essential tool in attaining professional success.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Planning is always important but it is especially so during these turbulent times. A career plan will help you identify your strengths, clarify your long-term career objectives and map out the key steps you need to take in order to reach them. Rather than go through the motions, a career plan allows you to proactively take control of the trajectory of your career. Below we have outlined 3 steps to take to build and maintain an effective career plan.

1. Reflect

This is the most crucial step and one that you need to undertake first. Your career plan should contain a list of your

I. Current skillset - from your previous job experiences and extracurricular activities

II. Strengths - The activities and skills you are good at. You can take personality quizzes, such as MBTI and DISC, or ask your friends to figure them out

III. Interests - Any hobbies that you have or skills that you particularly enjoy

In this section, you should ask yourself, "What do I want to feel in my next job?" This question will reveal the qualities that your next job need to have in order to for you to reach your professional goals. Do you want to be given more autonomy? How about having a flexible work schedule? List down at least 10 qualities and rank them on their importance. The top 5 are the qualities that you think are essential for your long-term career objectives.

At this stage, you can also list down other things that you are interested in but have not had the chance to explore yet. These can be skills that you are looking to acquire or even job roles that caught your attention in the past. This will be important in the next step.

2. Research

Now that you have created lists of all of your skills, strengths and interests, it is time to find jobs. Take a look at job descriptions in job advertisements, ask your family and friends and see if any of the jobs match the anything on those lists. From there, create another list of jobs that you can possibly do. Cast a wide net as much as you can in the beginning. As you conduct more in-depth research, you will begin crossing out some of the job roles and become more specific.

Do not rush this step. Take as much time as you need to properly research on job roles that interest you. This step will help you decide the trajectory of your career and determine the next few steps that you will need to take to achieve your job role. Do this until you have narrowed down to 3 job roles that you have a strong interest in. Ideally, these job roles should allow you to utilise as many of your skills, strengths and interests.

Moreover, this step is also important when planning for career progression in a company. Carefully researching upper management roles will reveal to you whether your skills are suitable for the job role and if you need to acquire extra qualifications.

3. Create An Action Plan

Now that you have narrowed down your list of job roles to at least 3, it is time to create an action plan. The action plan contains detailed steps that you should take to achieve your desired career. Here are 2 things that you can do to create a comprehensive action plan.

The Traffic Light System. This step will help you to discern which areas you can improve in and which areas are your strong suit. Use this tip if you are unsure of what you need to do to reach your desired job. Here are the steps:

I. Print out all of the job positions that you are interested in.

II. Take three highlighters, one red, one green and one yellow

III. Begin highlighting the description portion. Green is for the skills that you are good at, yellow for the skills that you are adequate at and red is for the skills that you do not have.

IV. Extract the common skills that are highlighted in yellow and red. These are areas that you can consider improving in.

SMART Goals. This process will help you to break down your long-term objectives into smaller tasks that will be easier for you to accomplish. Here is an infographic on how to set SMART Goals.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. - Abraham Lincoln

Treat your career plan as a living breathing document and review it consistently. As you progress in your career, your priorities may change, new opportunities will reveal themselves and technological advances may happen. Make sure that these changes are reflected in your career plan as well. Especially in uncertain times, a career plan will give you a clear roadmap of where you need to go. Which is why it is never too late to get started on your career plan. Take control of your future by planning it today!


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