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Future Plan

Via Reflektive : 5 Tips to Prepare for a Career-Growth Conversation

With companies increasingly concerned with employee engagement, career development meetings have become more common. Career development itself has changed significantly over the last few decades. Gone are the days where a career path was a straight line up the corporate ladder; today’s employees favor opportunities to increase their skills and usefulness as much as (or more than) promotions.

The modern workplace offers ample opportunity for skill-based career growth. Today’s companies tend to have a flatter structure, with more importance given to collaboration between teams than direct lines of command from the CEO on down. An employee can build a solid, rewarding career without any vertical movement–an ideal situation for those employees who have no interest in assuming managerial positions.

Career development meetings provide clarity and guidance to help employees reach career goals–when handled correctly. While managers play important roles in career development, the primary responsibility lies with the employee. A little preparation will help you get the most out of your next career meeting, whether it’s part of your annual performance review or a specially scheduled meeting with the boss.

Memory is Fallible: Take Notes

Even if your manager favors frequent, informal one-on-one meetings, you’ll only have the opportunity to discuss career development a few times a year. Will you be able to accurately remember all your accomplishments and concerns between meetings?

Keeping a career journal ensures you’ll have accurate information at your fingertips when you meet with your manager. It’s an excellent way to recap your accomplishments, record potential career development discussion questions as they come to you, and note areas where you need to develop your skills. Your journal can be a Google Doc, a note on your phone, or a physical book–all can be used to make sure you don’t miss anything important from one career development meeting to the next.

Set the Agenda

The tone of career development meetings is generally set by the employee rather than the manager. Take full advantage of this by creating an agenda before each meeting. Use your career journal to identify points for discussion, including updates on any career development plans decided on during your last meeting, your recent accomplishments and triumphs, and any areas where you see a need for improvement.

Send the agenda to your manager in advance of the meeting, and ask him if he has anything to add to the agenda. Doing so demonstrates your initiative while also considering his perspective.

Anticipate Questions

Your manager will have her own thoughts, suggestions, and opinions about your career path. Try to anticipate her concerns before the meeting. Consider the types of questions she’s likely to ask and practice answering them. Suggest career development discussion questions as part of your agenda, so you both know what topics will be discussed.

While it sounds silly, practicing your responses with a friend as your audience helps you get your thoughts in order and prepare for the meeting. Practicing in front of a mirror also helps–and gives you a chance to check your body language.

Understand the Three C’s

To get the most out of your career development meeting, consider the three C’s: context, congruence, and competencies:

Context requires you to examine your career aspirations in light of your organization’s culture. Use career discussion meetings to find out what it takes to move forward in the company, who assigns staff to projects, who makes promotion decisions, and how to best focus your efforts.

Congruence refers to how well your career goals mesh with company goals. When an employee’s career path complements company goals, everyone wins. Managers are much more likely to support your aspirations if they can see how the company benefits.

Competencies are the skills and knowledge you need to further your career path. Identifying skill gaps, seeking developmental opportunities, and requesting constructive feedback on your work all help build competencies.

Define Your Own Success

Career development meetings help you define and refine your personal career goals. Your definition of career success may be very different from a coworker’s. While some people still work their way up the corporate ladder and dream of management positions, others want to develop a skill set, learn more about other areas of the organization, or develop conflict resolution skills to better manage conflict within their team. Your career path is your own, and as long as you’re applying your skills in a way that benefits the company, your manager should support it.

Via ForbesHow To Make Sure Your Next Job Offers Career Growth

Career growth is a factor many job seekers prioritize when choosing their next career move. If you’re early in your career, you want to build a long-term foundation. If you’re mid-career, you want to fill in gaps your skills or expertise. If you’re later in your career, you don’t have as many moves to make so you want to ensure this next job gets you to or close to your end goal.

Most companies will say they offer career growth, but how do you make sure the company fosters growth and that your role in particular has opportunity for growth? Here are five ways to make sure your next job offers career growth:

Compare the new job to your existing resume

Irrespective of the company you’re joining, the job itself could be a growth opportunity because it fills a gap in your resume. This could be a particular skill – e.g., use of a particular software or system, financial analysis, client interaction. Or you might be using the same skills but in a different industry or geography. Finally, this job might expand your management experience — of people, budgets or projects.

Review upcoming projects and responsibilities

During the interview process, confirm the day-to-day responsibilities, as well as projects in the pipeline. Ask for how success will be measured and specific results the company is looking for. Are you challenged and excited by what you hear? Will getting this job done test your abilities and stretch your comfort zone? Or do you think you’ll get the hang of things within a few months? New jobs will often be challenging simply because you are new to how the company does things and what exactly you need to accomplish. But eventually you will adapt, and if career growth is a priority, you want to ensure there is enough variability in the job to keep you challenged.

Look at the people who came before you

Also during the interview process, ask what happened to the person in the role before you. If they moved up in the company, that’s a good sign. If they moved into a good role in another company, that’s still a good sign. If they’re detoxing at a silence-only monastery, that’s not necessarily a bad sign (maybe it was a bucket list item for them) but you may want to dig further. Keep in mind that the issue with your role could be how it’s structured or it could be the boss. If you can, ask people who know your prospective boss whether s/he coaches and mentors the team.

Check the overall company’s track record for people development

Not just for your role, but overall for the company, look at where people who have left the company have landed. Do people move into bigger roles and brand-name companies? Or do people take lateral moves into roles with the same responsibilities (a potential sign that people are just looking to get out or that experience at that company doesn’t propel people upward)? Ask recruiters if they value talent from that company. Some companies are known for developing their people well, and some are know for burning people out.

Confirm how you’re defining career growth so you look at the right factors

So far, my examples have been about expanding your skill set or expertise to grow your career, but your particular career might need a different kind of boost. Let’s say you have worked exclusively at large companies but you want to migrate to start-ups. A career-growing move might be to take a role at a smaller company, even if it comes with a smaller team and/ or a smaller scope. If it gets you into a different kind of environment and proves you can work more hands-on and with fewer resources, then this could be exactly what your career needs.

Career growth is a catch-all phrase that encompasses a lot of factors. Make sure you clearly define what your career needs so you don’t model your decisions after someone else’s career path.

Via The Balance : How to Set Short and Long Term Goals for Your Career

You may feel setting long-term and short-term goals is a waste of time, especially if you live by the old proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.” Don’t make that mistake. Not planning for the future can make for a chaotic one.

How Setting Goals Affects Your Career Success

Setting goals is a significant component of the career planning process. To have a successful and satisfying career, define your goals and devise a strategy to achieve them. A roadmap that will take you from choosing an occupation to working and succeeding at it is called a career action plan.

Your career action plan must have both long and short-term goals. It is imperative to include the steps to take to reach each one, along with ways to get around barriers that might get in your way.

Note: Since plans, even very well-thought-out ones, don’t always work out, it is also essential to include alternatives to implement when the need arises.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Goals are broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. You will be able to accomplish a short-term goal in approximately six months to three years, while it will usually take three to five years to reach a long-term one. Sometimes you can achieve a short-term goal in fewer than three months and a long-term one may take more than five years to complete.

To achieve each long-term goal, you must first accomplish a series of both short-term goals and additional long-term goals. For example, let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That may be your ultimate long-term goal, but before you can tackle it, you must achieve a few others, for example, complete college (four years), medical school (another four years), and a medical residency (three to eight years).

Along the road to reaching those long-term goals, there are several short-term goals to clear first. They include excelling on entrance exams and applying to college, medical school, and eventually residencies. Since grades matter when it comes to achieving those goals, it is necessary to break your short-term goals down even further, like earning a high grade point average.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

Your hard work will play the most prominent role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals correctly, it will be much more challenging to accomplish them. Your short-term and long-term goals must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have specific goals. You might say, “I want to be successful.” Well, who doesn’t? But can you define what success means? Success to one person may mean becoming CEO of a company while to another person it may mean getting home from work by 6 pm every day.
  2. Your goals must be measurable. Have a timeframe for achieving your goals and a way to determine when you have reached them.
  3. Don’t be negative. Your goal should be something you want rather than something you want to avoid. It is much better to say, for instance, “I want to improve my skills over the next four years so that I qualify for a better job” than “I don’t want to be stuck in this job for another four years.”
  4. Be realistic. Your long-term goals must be compatible with your abilities and skills. Stating “I want to win a Grammy Award” if you can’t sing or play an instrument will set you up for failure.
  5. Your goal must be reachable within your time frame. Break a long-term goal down into smaller goals. It is better to take baby steps than one big giant leap.
  6. Pair each goal with an action. For instance, if your goal is to become a writer, sign up for a writing class.
  7. Be flexible. Don’t give up if you encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress. Instead, modify your goals accordingly. Let’s say your need to continue working will keep you from going to college full-time. Although it won’t be possible to finish your bachelor’s degree in four years, you can enroll in school part-time and take a bit longer. Flexibility also means being willing to let go of goals that are no longer meaningful and instead put your energy into pursuing other ones.

Via The Balance : Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Career Goals

Choosing your career is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, one with far-reaching implications for your happiness, health, and financial status. It can be easier to do when you set career goals and put a plan in place to grow your career.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t sure how to take charge of this process, letting chance factors such as a convenient job offer from a friend determine the focus of their career. As a result, the majority of workers are less than satisfied with their employment. In fact, surveys indicate that as many as two-thirds of all employees are unhappy in their jobs.

Although there are no guarantees, taking a deliberate approach to the career planning process can expose you to more options and increase the probability that you will find sustainable, and enjoyable, employment. The process for setting career goals in a thoughtful manner can be broken down into the following steps.

Start With Self-Assessment

Taking stock of your interests, career values, skills, and personality traits can help you formulate your own criteria for a desirable career.

Consider a Coach. Meeting with a career advisor or counselor at your school, college, or in your community can help you reflect on your background and identify the cornerstones for your future career.

Create a Career Profile. If you would rather proceed on your own, start by reviewing your academic and work history. Which courses, projects, jobs, internships, and volunteer roles were most satisfying and successful for you? Make a list of the activities that were most energizing, and where you had the greatest impact.

Which are Your Top Skills? Ask yourself which skills enabled you to achieve that success. Then, consider which interests or values made the work meaningful or stimulating. Make a list of the strong skills that you also enjoyed using. Finally, itemize any of your personality characteristics that made the activities feel natural for you.

Creating a comprehensive assessment like this is a solid foundation that you can use to hone in on what type of career fits your personal interests and professional strengths.

Example:
Take Jane, a recent graduate who was struggling to visualize a career path that suited her. Jane reflected on her role as the social chair for her sorority and remembered that she coordinated some of the best parties, pledge activities, and fundraisers in the history of the organization. She really enjoyed leading a team of her peers, coming up with themes for events, organizing the logistics, and promoting the events.

As Jane conducted her self-assessment, she listed leadership skills, event planning, promotional ability, creativity, and detail orientation as key interests and skills in her personal profile. She also noted that her outgoing personality made her very comfortable in highly interactive roles.

Brainstorm Career Options

The next step after self-assessment is brainstorming some options for consideration. Scanning resources that list a variety of career possibilities like the Occupational Outlook Handbook is one way to come up with a list of options worth investigating.

There are many free online personality and career quizzes you can take to get ideas on what career would be a good fit for someone with your interests and qualifications.

You can also review websites that list a variety of job titles in order to build a hit list of career possibilities. Once you have some general sectors in mind, you can review top jobs in those categories, or you can search online by keywords like “careers in health care,” for example, or whatever field you are interested in. Try to identify ten careers about which you are sufficiently curious to spend some time conducting further research.

Example:
John had no idea what fields might be of interest to him. He started looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and found himself gravitating towards healthcare careers. He searched the internet for top healthcare careers and found a bunch of sites listing options.

John drew off these lists to fill out seven of the ten occupations on his brainstorming list: Nurse Practitioner, Physician’s Assistant, Ultrasound Technician, Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapist, Dental Hygienist, Occupational Therapist, and Nutritionist. John found that some sports careers also caught his eye. Since he wanted some diversity on his list, he also included Sports Marketing, Sports Reporter, and Sports Psychologist to broaden his options.

Research Your Top Career Choices

Once you have a tentative idea of some careers worth investigating, then you will need to research them in detail to further assess their suitability. Begin by reading about each of the fields on your brainstorm list. Look for information in online career information resources.

Try Googling each field like this: “Career Information Physical Therapist.” You will find that professional groups provide excellent sources of career information. Review the requirements for entering the field and make sure that you are prepared to complete any training, certificate programs or educational degrees which are required.

For your remaining options, the next step should be to conduct informational interviews with professionals in those fields. Reach out to college alumni, contacts in your personal and social networks, as well as local professionals to schedule in-person or telephone consultations. Here’s how to get started with career networking.

Keep notes regarding what you have learned during your research and match it up against the list of interests, skills, and values which you generated during your self-assessment phase. Make a list of options which are still worth considering.

Try Job Shadowing to Get an Insider Perspective

If a field still holds your interest after reading about it and speaking with professionals in that sector, try to schedule a job shadow to observe the work and sample the work environment.

Consider an Internship or Volunteering

If you are in a position to try out a field that is still of interest at this point, consider doing an internship or some related volunteer work.

Start the Decision Making Process

You should be prepared to make an informed decision at this point. List the pros and cons for each remaining option on a separate sheet of paper and weigh the choices. If you are still unsure, seek the assistance of a guidance counselor at your high school, a career counselor at your college, or a professional career counselor.

Example:
Sherry read every possible piece of information on physical therapy that she could find, and she was still excited about the field. Her mom had utilized a local physical therapist and made an introduction for an informational consultation. Sherry was fascinated by what the therapist and her colleagues shared about the field and believed it matched up well with her key criteria, a nurturing profession in healthcare that would draw upon her strong aptitude for biology and physics.

Sherry spoke with an admissions representative from a local PT program and reviewed the admissions and degree requirements. She was confident that she could successfully gain admission and complete the program. She spent two days shadowing the therapists at the clinic where she had conducted her informational interviews and saw nothing that diminished her interest. Finally, she volunteered at a local nursing home and helped with activities for some of the therapy patients. After all this, Sherry had a very clear sense of the nature of the work and was comfortable with setting a career goal to become a physical therapist.

Via Daily Monitor : Why you need a career plan

Innocent Mukasa is a graduate of psychiatric nursing from Butabika School of Psychiatric Nursing. Though he had always seen himself pursuing a career in psychiatry after school, that has since changed.

“I do not think that is a field I would want to work in in the future. The truth is, I do not know what I want to do, though I can take a psychiatric job if I got one,” he confesses.

Like many graduates, Mukasa is waiting for that job, not because it will further his career goals, plans and aspirations, but because getting a job is what he is expected to do as a new graduate.

To many students, the plan is to finish school and get a job. There is no consideration to career planning, and as the cliché goes: failure to plan is planning to fail.

Think beyond ‘now’

In her article on career planning in The Guardian, Penny de Valk, chief executive of Cedar (UK), a leadership and management consultancy, writes: Career planning means thinking big while also being prepared for slow-burn development and responding to opportunities that come up. Luck favours the well prepared. The more you know what you are good at, what kind of work you want to be doing and how you will make a difference, the clearer the opportunities will become.

Noeline Muhumuza, a freelance career guidance counsellor shares that having a career plan helps one to have a clear mind on where they want to go, the requirements for getting there and the means to get there.

“Breaking down career planning into these categories can help you stay focused on the career road. Though requirements and means may change with time, the goal ought to remain clear. That is what keeps you going. Nevertheless, some people, besides the time and requirements, also find reason to shift the goal.”

Have a professional goal

A career goal does not necessarily have to be in your professional field. Muhumuza says, “It is more about what you are passionate about. It is bigger than your current highly paying job; it is what you want to be and the impact you want to make in the world.”

David Mulindwa, the head of career development at Right Care Schools, Entebbe Campus, notes that, unfortunately, many people think about career goals when writing a curriculum vitae (CV) or when pushed in a tight corner during a job interview.

“However, this is something one needs to be clear about even before they join university so that their education is relevant to their career goals.”

Requirements and means.

Additionally, Muhumuza shares that requirements refer to the skills, talents, experiences, knowledge and knowhow that one needs to achieve their goals.

“This therefore, means that one seizes opportunities and chances to acquire skills and applies these skills to gain the experiences that will help push them forward,” she says, adding that this does not come easy because one needs, resilience, perseverance and a degree of aggressiveness to get what they want.

Means, on the other hand, are the ways, bridges, paths that one forges to achieve a career goal. This might mean working a job that may not be the best to get the skills and expertise you need. It could mean waiting patiently to climb through the career ladder to gain the needed experience.”

Samuel A. Bakutana, a leadership consultant and chief executive officer of Inspired Leaders International, says, the bigger picture is always the real picture and should always be a major point of focus.

“Career planning or having career goals changes one’s focus from earning daily bread to the long term bigger picture of their contribution on earth. Since goals are basically dreams with deadlines, one needs to first have career dreams for the future and then break them into goals.”
Bakutana adds that when someone has career goals, they give the person a reason to work harder. Career goals also enable an employee to know the appropriate workplace and decide who should be in their professional circle of friends. Pursuing a clear future gives one energy for living.

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