Despite its level of importance in our lives, most people spend more time planning what they are going to do at the weekend or what they fancy buying, than they do planning their career.
Career planning neednít take a lot of time and any time you are able to devote to managing your career properly can reap significant benefits.
It is important to recognise that career planning is not just something to think about when you are considering moving job. Even if you are not considering a move for a number of years, you need to start managing your career, as proper career management can have just as much impact on your remuneration and progression within your existing company, as with a new employer.
Managing your career involves identifying a desired career path: knowing where you want to go and what you need to do to get there is crucial to being able to manage the process and make the right decisions along the way. Identifying a career path will:
1. Help you objectively assess your current role and prospects, which may either raise issues that you need to address or simply reassure you that your career is well on course.
2. Put you in a much stronger position to negotiate the development of your career within your company at your next appraisal or review.
3. Mean you wonít be taken by surprise if your role suddenly changes, as can happen with internal restructuring or a takeover or merger, as you will instantly be able to assess the impact of the changes on your career strategy.
4. Enable you to fend off approaches from consultants or companies who are more interested in serving their own ends rather than understanding your career goals.
5. Enable you to objectively assess different opportunities, both internal and external, against your career map.
When we talk about a career map or plan, it is important that we recognise the need for flexibility. You may not know exactly where you want to go, but you will almost certainly know where you donít want to end up. A good plan will leave several options open, but eliminate the possibility of you ending up in the wrong place. Your plan may be adapted, modified or otherwise altered over time to suit your changing career needs, but you still need a plan.
Once you have a plan, you need to review it regularly. These days job markets change so fast, you need to manage your career on an ongoing basis. A very good practice to follow is to undertake an annual career review, along with a briefer six monthly reassessment of your strategy.
You can conduct the review yourself, or with a recruitment consultant you trust, and the six monthly check could simply be a conversation either with a mentor or again, a good consultant: itís up to you, but you need to work out how you are going to monitor your career.
As we have already said, reviewing your career is not about moving; itís about putting yourself in the best position to make the right career decisions. So even if you are very happy where you are, itís worthwhile doing now.