As the year draws to a close, it’s only natural to sit back and take stock, reflecting on life’s changes. Spending more time at work than we do anywhere else means that our working life tends to feature high on the list of notable aspects. Thinking about your career, are you where you wanted to be at the end of 2016? If not, perhaps it’s time to consider a change.
Traditionally, we engage in career planning a couple of months before we leave education. We imagine where we’d like to be in years to come and investigate what it will take to get there. But that’s pretty much where it ends for a lot of people we speak to and yet career planning is paramount to professional success. It’s best conducted on a regular basis, especially due to the nature of the ever-changing media landscape and the trends that consistently shape and shift the marketplace; roles that exist now, may not next year and new ones will inevitably arrive in their place.
Considering that the average person will change jobs multiple times during their working lifetime and perhaps even change their career more than once, it’s never too soon or too late to start career planning. It’s not an arduous task to dread or be put off, but a liberating and fulfilling activity; noting your achievements to date and mapping out your potential career path, or beginning the transition to a new career.
This can be a rewarding and positive experience, so take time out over the festive break to review your professional circumstances and consider how to widen your horizons or, focus in a particular area, depending on your career goals. Here are our thoughts on how you can get started on your plan for 2017 and beyond:
Make it an annual event
Just as you make regular visits to the optician and dentist, along with a myriad other things on an annual basis, why not diarise a routine career planning session? Decide on a particular day or weekend once a year and schedule a retreat; block out all responsibilities and distractions so that you have the opportunity to focus. Simply making career planning an annual event will help you to feel confident in your choices and direction.
Map the path of 2016
Firstly, dedicate time to mapping out your career path since the beginning of the year. Whilst there’s no direct gain from dwelling on past decisions, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the road you trod — it sounds cheesy but in order to figure out where you’re going, it’s good to understand where you’ve come from and how. Note why it looks the way it does: ask yourself, what might you have done differently? How does that influence what can you do differently in the future?
Recognise your likes, dislikes, wants and needs
Change is an undeniable fact of life. As everything and everyone changes in some way, so do your likes and dislikes. Something you may have really enjoyed doing two years ago may now feel like a chore. List them and then examine your current job. If the remit of your role still falls mostly in the like column, you’re on the right path; if it falls mostly in the dislike column, it’s time to examine your career path. In order to do this, you must really think about what it is you want or need from your work. If you’re looking to make a difference in the world, or searching for satisfaction, fulfillment or independence – figure out what motivates you and drives your sense of success and happiness.
Note your accomplishments
It’s often advised and frequently ignored, but it’s incredibly important to note down your accomplishments at work as you achieve them. When attempting to update your CV, half the battle is having the information at your fingertips. By keeping a record of your achievements, great or small, it’s useful for the purposes of forward planning as well as updating your work history. Reviewing past accomplishments may reveal forgotten successes, allowing you to identify the things that make you proud.
Identify your transferable skills
Don’t get wrapped up in job titles and limit the possibilities of other avenues. Each and every job requires a certain set of skills and it’s better to categorise yourself in these terms as opposed to the narrow parameters that a title alone may suggest. Looking beyond your specific role, you will find a collection of transferable skills — which could include writing, editing, researching, investigating, interviewing, multi-tasking, budgeting, time management etc. — skills that can easily be applied to a wide variety of roles across the creative and marketing industries.
Review market trends
Obtaining information about marketplace trends is vital to long-term career planning success. A particular profession may be expanding today but shrinking tomorrow, next month, or year. Conducting such research gives you the power to adjust and strengthen your position in the market, stay current and develop your proposition.
Explore educational opportunities
Knowledge really is power and it’s your responsibility to take every chance you have to learn and grow; an essential part of career planning requires you to look at upskilling opportunities and actively find new opportunities that will enhance your employability. Contemplate what types of training will help you to achieve your career goals, then plan a way achieve them. With the wide range of training opportunities available these days, there’s ample opportunity to upskill.
Set your career goals
Once you’ve figured out where you want head, you can develop a roadmap for career success – these things rarely happen by chance. Jump in to the driving seat of your professional life and steer your future towards the goals you want to achieve. Make short-term and long-term goals that you review upon achievement; flexibility is crucial to overall success, so reviewing and adjusting your tactics as career and/or life plans progress is key to feeling better prepared for the (inevitable but always) unexpected changes in your route. That said, don’t play it safe, dream big, strive boldly and success will surely follow.