Design and Champion Your Career Road Map
Reprinted with permission of California People Search
"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit every time," are the words of an anonymous sage. But the phrase has special meaning for career minded professionals, specifically those looking for new opportunities.
"One of the best ways to design your career road map is to start with the broadest career objectives, looking out five to 10 years."
With the new year underway, you may have already turned inertia into inspiration. Perhaps you've made that agonizing but liberating decision to move on to greener pastures. That new calendar works wonders in helping you realize the power you possess to start fresh and take control of your career life!
Now the challenge: you realize what you didn't like before, but what exactly are you looking for now? Many job seekers can state with certainty their desired job title and compensation, but it takes discipline and commitment to state the nuances that truly separate a good job offer from a great one.
One of the best ways to design your career road map is to start with the broadest career objectives, looking out five to 10 years. Think about what would bring you the simplest and greatest long term joy in your career life. You can get as granular as you wish. Then determine what kind of position is the most logical step toward that long range plan.
For example, do you eventually envision yourself running a division or managing a large group of people? Working fewer hours with more leisure time? Building a company, long lasting friendships or great technical skills? Do you have a monetary goal in mind over time? What are your long term career priorities?
By conducting this exercise, you may actually see a shift in your initial, ideal job description. You'll be invigorated to champion your new, well designed career course — with purpose. Here are a few tips to help you follow your career road map during the job search process. Your recruiter can help guide you in this process:
- Analyze why your past favorite projects appealed to you. Was it the recognition, varied nature of the skills required, or an underutilized ability finally deployed? Perhaps you have an untapped entrepreneurial or creative flair. Try to determine if a new job opportunity holds promise in those areas of strength or interest.
- If corporate culture weighs heavily in your satisfaction level, keep that as a priority. As you interview for positions, see if the firm's team or individual approach matches yours; inquire about the pace; and ask lots of questions of peers, who are generally most candid about the work environment.
- Try to avoid the temptation of focusing solely on that tantalizing, prestigious title, salary or bonus to the exclusion of everything else when reviewing job listings. During interviews, ascertain as much as you can about the people with whom you'll be spending most of your week — and what a typical day at your new job looks like. Ask hypothetical, open-ended questions that relate directly to the position, such as how you would best achieve results on a specific project. This sleuthing will help you decide if "the fit" aligns with your road map.
- Weigh the importance of interpersonal criteria with skill components. How important is it, for example, that your boss has a good sense of humor, strong listening skills, or appears to be a solid mentor? Or, are you less concerned about such issues and more focused on building your technical or management skills? If so, can your employer offer this training?
Your career journey could take you "off road" into unexpected, but exciting territory — and that may be your evolution of growth. But if you design and champion your road map based on a long term target, an analysis of prior achievements and your true passions, you will be on the path to great career success.