How to develop a successful career plan

Career planning can be daunting. And for a good reason. The first obvious reason is that life is dynamic and most people do not have their lives figured out right after college.

Or even during the first few years into their profession. Career planning also requires dedication and research.

But daunting doesn’t mean impossible. With a clear understanding of what your key skills are, interests and career opportunities, you may be well on the way to successfully begin to plan your career.

1. Prioritise career planning

If you have made the effort to go through university, a career is likely an important part of your aspirations.

Whether you are just starting out or you have significant experience in the work environment, dedicate time to explore your interests and career options.

Think about what career satisfaction looks like for you and what career will steer you towards that. Clarity on where you are presently is critical.

2. Understand what you like and what you do not like

Who are you at your core? Do you enjoy attention? Do you enjoy being around people? Are you looking to make a difference in the lives of the marginalised people? How do these fit into your career?

Understanding your personality will give you good pointers towards what will be a good career fit for you. If you have had past jobs (including attachments, internships and volunteer opportunities) make a list of your likes and dislikes.

Take note if your current job falls on many of the likes because this shows you that you are on the right path. Your hobbies and pastimes will also feed into this, so examine what you enjoy participating in.

If you volunteer during your free time, identify activities you naturally feel drawn towards. This will help guide you as you plan your career.

3. Look beyond your current job

Do not let your current job block your vision or other career possibilities that may emerge from transferable skills you gain in your current job or new passions you develop.

Basically, think about your career moves in terms of the skills you have built over time rather than the title you hold at your present job.

4. Research the trends in your field

Based on your interests, researching career trends in your area of interest enables you to understand the evolution of the field.

Besides helping arm you with relevant skills, this gives you a sense of whether the new look of the field still suits you.

For example, with the evolution of technology, some functions including storytelling may become more data driven. If you are keen on a career in journalism, is data an area you are keen on?

5. Don’t forget to upskill

Whether this means a second degree, a short course or a workshop, do not pass up an opportunity to gain new knowledge, network and learn about the new developments in your field.

This makes you a desirable job applicant for new employers or a good candidate for promotion in your current organisation.

6. Set career goals

Set short-term and long term career goals. This is not cast on stone or finite, the purpose is to guide you and show whether you are moving in the right direction.

It reminds you and keeps you focused on what you are trying to achieve. The goals can always be adjusted and changed, based on how your career opportunities evolve.


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