Career Planning

When you decide to take your next career step, write out your personal and professional goals to see if they align. The following steps can lead to success in your career management.

Take a good look at yourself. Understand your needs. What is important to you? What are you passionate about? A career spans many years. It can be hard to maintain enthusiasm, excitement and energy unless you believe in what you are doing. Look for the right balance in your career, earnings and fulfillment.

Research career options and prioritize. Discover what skills and experience various careers require ahead of time. What is a good fit for you with your skill set?

Map a path from where you are to where you want to be. Think strategically and long-term about your career. Don't place too much emphasis on compensation early on. It may be more important to develop the skills and experience to "set you up." Your action plan should build upon your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

Don't ignore ongoing training. Acquiring the additional skills, knowledge and education needed for your new career is fundamental.

Market yourself. Consider start-ups and smaller organizations where you will get more responsibility. But always target companies that are excellent at what they do and that place importance on developing staff, particularly at the beginning of your career. Don't forget to network! A well-developed list of professional contacts can open doors for you.

Seek ongoing career management. Continue to examine, evaluate and refine. The marketplace can change quickly. Be prepared for unexpected opportunities as well as setbacks. Don't ignore the value of mentors. Establish at least one quality mentor in the field you hope to pursue. Also, use advisors and experts often. Their experience, advice and influence may prove invaluable.