What is a Career Plan?
Simply put, a career plan is a strategy that lays down your career goals and lists the actions you need to take to achieve those goals. Creating a career plan is not a one-time event that takes place at the beginning of your career; rather, it is a continuous process that must be reviewed and updated every few years in light of changing personal and professional circumstances.
A proper career plan takes into account your skills and interests, work experience, strengths and weaknesses, your priorities and so on to chalk out a viable path to accomplish your career goals. It is a set of tangible actions to help you make progress in your work life and achieve specific professional objectives.
Importance of Career Planning
A career plan can help you take the right steps to achieve your professional intent. Here are four reasons why every employee should invest sufficient time in career planning:
1. To Identify the Future Course of Action
The key function of a career plan is to help you determine what actions to take to achieve your professional intent. An important part of this entails sifting through descriptions of jobs you want to take up to identify the skills and qualifications needed. This will enable you to pursue the right courses to develop new skillsets, or upgrade existing ones. What’s more, your stint in a professional institute could also help you develop networks that will support you throughout your career. The importance of career planning has risen greatly in today’s day and age where employees constantly need to learn, unlearn and relearn skills to succeed in a dynamic work environment.
2. To Help You Retain Focus
Regardless of the planning and effort you put in, your career path is not going to be a straight line. Committing to a plan will help you work to a pre-determined strategy and prevent harmful distractions. It will help you navigate various career twists and turns without getting lost. When you are low on confidence, it is this blueprint which will motivate you to stay the course.
3. To Engage in the Right Kind of Networking
Knowing where you want to reach will allow you to cultivate the right contacts. You will be able to find mentors who are willing to share their knowledge and guide you on your chosen path. Many successful people are generous with advice for youngsters who are willing to listen. Networking will enable you build valuable relationships which will support and nurture you. It is also a great way to broaden your thinking and get a more mature view of your industry.
4. To Help You Ace Job Interviews
When employers conduct job interviews, they are looking for candidates that not only have the desired skills sets, but also the right attitude. A large part of this relates to how serious you are about your career. That is why job interviews include questions based on your career goals, career trajectory, or ask you about your strengths and weaknesses.
Understandably, candidates that have well-defined career plans will be in a better position to answer these questions and impress the interview panel. Career planning not only allows you to give robust and coherent answers to these questions, but also allows you to display a degree of self-awareness which is crucial for success at any interview.
Giving Our Professional Lives Meaning
If you want to build a successful career, you need to start early. A 360-degree assessment of your strengths and aspirations, combined with the right action plan, will enable you to set your career goals and develop a viable blueprint.
Many of us don’t put adequate focus on career planning and tend to drift from job to job as a result. This is unfortunate because, as working professionals, we devote a considerable amount of time to our careers. By creating a career plan, revising it periodically, and trying to adhere to it, it is possible to imbue a career with meaning and make pursuing it a worthwhile experience.
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