Career Planning for your Future

Dec 10, 2015

11 Career Planning Things You Can Do Today to Build a Better Tomorrow

  1. Improve you mental and physical health. Being healthy and happy can improve your life both at work and away from work. Feeling better improves your attitude and your self-confidence. These are the two things that are usually on display at all time to your professional contacts including peers, subordinates, managers, and clients. They say that 90% is showing up, and if that is the case, I would argue that the other 10% is your attitude and self-confidence. Becoming healthy and happy includes exercise, eating right, and serving others. As a rule of thumb practicing selflessness greatly improves self-worth.

  2. Be a life-long learner. We all know education is important. That didn’t stop when you graduated high school or got your college diploma. Whether you learn for the sake of learning, like taking a foreign language so you can talk to your new neighbors, or are working toward an MBA, it’s important to keep your mind sharp. What certifications or educational background do the leaders in your industry have? Taking classes and seeking those certifications will help keep your higher education up-to-date. If your company offers to pay for related education classes, take advantage of it.

  3. Talk to a recruiter. But not just any recruiter. Choose someone in your specific industry. Talk to an experienced recruiter, one who exemplifies integrity. Even if you’re not looking to change jobs, a recruiter can open up doors you never knew existed. They can provide connections and opportunities for you later down the road, or maybe even sooner than that. They can offer industry knowledge regarding company reputations and the company culture for companies that interest you or are interested in you. They can offer you career planning, interview strategy, negotiating advice, and insight into fast tracking your career through diversifying your experience.

  4. Know thyself. In many ways your employer is like a partner in life. There are some that you will be a much better fit with than others. Are you better suited for a very structured role or do you thrive in juggling responsibilities and having a less defined role with perhaps less oversight? Do you like working for a large diversified group of people or in a smaller family type setting? Relocation to be in a warmer or cooler climate? Relocation to be closer to family? Don’t act on impulse desires that fade quickly. What you want today you may also know will not sustain through time. Know thy weaknesses too. No one is perfect. We can all stand to improve somehow personally and professionally. Be prepared to discuss this with a mentor or a potential employer. Have a plan to work on improving your weaknesses. The important thing is to know yourself forwards and backwards.

  5. Embrace technology. Every age and era has their own set of strengths and weaknesses, even when it comes to technology. Perhaps you can meet with a friend, family member, teenage neighbor, or your cousin who works at Apple, to help you diversify your technical experience. Whether that means learning how to finally use your smart phone, getting an email address, or diving a lot deeper than that, you need to keep up with technology to stay ahead of the curve. Embrace your industry specific technology. Reach out of your required responsibility in the workplace to investigate and understand technologies used by competitors.

  6. Have an industry mentor. Having a mentor in your career and career planning stages can be extremely helpful. They can guide and offer you advice on both big and little decisions. They can introduce you to other leaders in your field. They can be an ear for your frustrations and offer empathy. Industry mentors can show you the ropes and help you move up through the ranks like a pro. They can serve as a text book with their previous experience which otherwise may not be accessible to you.

  7. Read. Industry publications, that is. Stay abreast of all the current knowledge in your industry that you can. Subscribe to newsletters. Subscribe to print magazines. Scour the web within social media. Always be on the lookout for new developments and breaking news. You never know where it might lead you.

  8. Have a career plan. Yes. It’s true that even the best-laid plans can change. That’s okay, but without a career plan to reach your long-term goals you may easily get stuck in the quagmire. Plans can keep you on course or at least make you aware of that rumble strip on the interstate of life when you start to veer. Reassess you plan especially during or after major life events such as having a child or losing a parent. Being able to communicate this plan can be helpful as well. Be prepared to talk about what you want and how you are going to get there.

  9. Put a feather in your cap. Each career planning feather is a separate accomplishment that you can be proud of. You can make money, save money, and solve problems. What have you contributed to your team or to a project that really made a difference? Document these and try to quantify them as these are the things that will set you apart from the others. You are unique and different so celebrate that. Whatever you choose is awesome so long as you claim it as your own and proudly place that bright feather in your cap when you’re finished.

  10. Play by the rules. If you’re going to help your career for the long haul, you’ll have to do it right. If you’re planning on jumping ship, know that your current job may make a counteroffer. Understand this as a possibility and know what to do about it. Do everything with integrity. Do what you say you will do. Know your motivation for a move. Stick by it. Don’t be fickle. Don’t burn bridges. You don’t want to be stranded on an island. Bridges exist so you can traverse the open seas. Career planning is much easier when you play be the rules.

  11. Don’t be like a stagnant swamp. Always move toward something professional. Don’t slack off on the job, or on your career planning, once you’ve been there six months. Find something to keep you engaged and excited about always learning more. Stagnation means you’re standing still and not moving towards your goals. When the tides rise, you might float away to the land of unemployment. When the storms hit, you might be buried under the waves. So swim with the current and you’ll likely find yourself in the port of possibilities.

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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