Employed or Not, Set Time for Career Planning

I often suggest that people do as I say, not as I do.   I encourage others to take their birthdays off and focus on themselves.  So, what am I doing on my birthday today–working all day, including a business dinner.  But I rationalize that I’m at the point of my career that this must be fun or I wouldn’t be doing it.  Nevertheless, I think birthdays are a good time for people to focus on themselves and their careers. 

Career planning is critical whether you’re currently employed or looking for a job.  You must know where you’re going before you can get there.  So, I recommend picking a day each year that you devote to assessing and mapping career goals and what it will take to make them come true. 

During a conversation yesterday with executive recruiter and friend Michael Patino, I asked for his top-of-mind recommendations for anyone thinking about self-directed career planning.  Michael said most young people don’t know what’s possible, so he suggests seeking insights from individuals who are in the kinds of positions that interest them.  “Re-balance career goals every year,” Michael suggests.  “Set a time of year when you can focus some clear thinking about career goals–perhaps your birthday or as you sit on the beach during summer vacation.” 

Don’t be disappointed if yourself if you’re not meeting career goals, especially in this economy.  Remain flexible but always remain focused on where you want to take your career. 

Thanks to North Carolina A&T State University Office of Career Services for the above career mapping illustration.

2 thoughts on “Employed or Not, Set Time for Career Planning

  1. This is a great advice. I also wanted to pass along a technique my good friend Daniel Pitlik (www.pitlikconsulting) and I do periodically – the Year in Review. Just as in business planning we meet in early January to review our successes (family, job, etc.) and then learn from high and low points. We then look to the year ahead and give it a theme relevant to each – “year of risk taking” or the “year to build more community” – all with one guiding principle: change for ourselves. I’m looking forward to this year’s discussion.

  2. Ron,
    First of all – happy birthday and best wishes for many more.

    Second, I’d offer the most important phase in the career planning cycle is “knowing yourself.” I beleive the understood corallary there is to assess yourself and your abilities honestly.

    When one feels like it is time to move on, they should take the time to ask their subordinates, peers and bosses to honestly give them an assessment of their performance and potential – to help “see themselves” as others see them.

    Sometimes this proves difficult – as we fear we don’t often measure up in others’ eyes the way we think we do or should.

    The Army offers and uses several techniques – from mandatory written counseling sessions where goals and objectives are discussed and progress measured, to anonymous peer assessments, to annual formal evaluations – to help our leaders “see themselves.” There are similar constructs in today’s corporate world as well.

    If one is thinking of changing career fields, I would highly recommend shining that light inward and conducting a thorough self-assessment.

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