While some people have jobs, others have careers, and there are several reasons why people fall into one camp vs the other. One reason is that some people don’t view day-to-day job experiences as valuable skills that they can develop and turn into a career.
View your job as a career and you turn little moments into big learning experiences to become a trusted and respected professional in your field. For most people, that means advancing to a higher position or advancing to a level of seniority that pays more.
Ready to get your career on track so that you can exceed this year, next year, and in the years to come?
Here are seven tips on how to plan your career growth and development.
- Write Down Your Goals
In order to formulate a solid plan you need to have a solid goal in mind. The first step to advancing your career is to write down a list of short term goals and long term goals.
For example, your short term goals might be to finish nursing school and land a full-time job as a nurse in a local hospital. Your long-term goal might be to become the Chief Nursing Officer in that hospital.
While some goals are smaller than others, every goal is important. Look at your goal list as a to-do list of tasks that you need to start tackling today.
- Make a List of Your Skills
Once you’ve clearly defined your goals, make a list of your skills.
Do the skills you currently have put you on a path to reaching those goals?
If so, work on developing the skills you already have. If not, carve out time to develop the skills you need but don’t yet have.
Depending on your career path, this might involve going back to college or taking an online training course to obtain certification in your field.
- Create an Action Plan
Without a timeline and a course of action, a list of goals is nothing more than a list of dreams.
Be actionable in your approach to goals and assign each one a timeline and a deadline. Holding yourself accountable to those deadlines is the best way to ensure that you reach your goals in a reasonable, timely manner.
- Assess Where You Currently Are in Your Career
Is the job you have today in line with the career goals you have for the future?
Ask yourself if your current position is providing you with the knowledge or experience you’ll need to develop your career. If the answer is no, it’s time to start job hunting for a new position that will put you on the path to having the career you want in five, ten, or twenty years.
- Identify Your Obstacles
Roadblocks exist in all avenues of life, and they come in various forms.
Some people let personal roadblocks, such as a lack of confidence, stand in their way.
Can’t afford the level of education you need to grow your career?
That’s a financial roadblock.
If your current job is not providing you with the experience you need or you’re working under an employment contract that prohibits you from quitting, you’re facing a professional roadblock.
Employees that work under employment contracts are bound to the terms of that contract, and breaking it could have negative implications on your career going forward.
This article explains what employment contracts are all about and why it’s an absolute must to hire a contract review lawyer before signing one.
- Build Your Network
Having a robust professional network is a must. No matter what stage you are in your career, it’s important to maintain relationships with current coworkers, former colleagues, and industry leaders that you respect.
Your network can help you stay abreast of industry trends, learn ways to improve your own skill set, and help you find a new job when you’re ready to make a lateral or upward move.
Checkout this article from Indeed to learn ten tips to help you network like a pro.
- Measure Your Progress Along the Way
No matter how great your career plan may be, the only way to stick with it is to hold yourself accountable.
Revisit your goal list and timeline periodically to make sure you’re hitting the milestones you’ve set for yourself. If you’re falling short of your goals, you might need to adjust your deadlines or shift your goals to be more reasonable or attainable.
Building a career and developing professional skills takes time, but it’s something that you can do in small, measurable, actionable steps.
If you don’t think you can do it on your own, create a support system for yourself. Share your plan with friends or relatives who will help hold you accountable for your actions. Find a mentor that can guide you down the right path and help you steer clear of pitfalls along the way.
What you do with your career is entirely up to you, but there’s no shame in tapping into resources that can help you along the way.