Whether you’re fresh out of college or you’ve been in the workforce for 20 years, determining your next career move can be intimidating. At CFW Careers, we are in touch with individuals at every stage of their career, and we understand your plight. Cynnie King, President of CFW Careers, weighed in with a five-step process.
1. Reflect on your experience. What you’ve accomplished and learned in each position can inform your going forward. Where did you excel? Where did you struggle? Which jobs did you most enjoy, which least and why? Take into account all the aspects of the job (nature of the work, hiring manager, kind of company and culture).
2. Identify your skillset. List the skills you’ve acquired and developed along the way. Which came more naturally, which were harder to master? Which skills would you like to apply and further develop? Which do you believe will be most applicable to opportunities in the workplace?
3. Know when you “flow”. There is a difference between what you’re good at (your skillset) and where your strengths lie. According to Marcus Buckingham, an expert in strengths-based work and management, “strengths are an antecedent to performance…. strengths are seen when people are in a state of ‘flow’—when time flies by*.” King agrees, “One of the most thrilling things in a career is discovering your strengths and realizing you will get much further by playing to, and continuing to develop them.”
4. Project your career path. For some, just being open to experiences leads to a satisfying and successful career. But we find that, for many, the best approach is to plan ahead. Consider what may lie ahead and take into account industry factors and market conditions that could impact job opportunities, as well as where you would like to be down the road, and what skills and experience you need to get there. Our Career Pathing tool can guide you through the process.
5. Establish your narrative. Our careers are seldom just a story of progression, rather, there are often sidesteps and reversals along the way. As Sheryl Sandberg has observed, “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” But the way you tell your story must make sense to the listener and present a purposeful sense of direction. Your career narrative should highlight your accomplishments, strengths and anything else that may be relevant to the listener. It is not just a looking back, but also a sense of your going forward.
Career planning requires self-awareness, market awareness, and strategic thinking. Our founder, David King, counsels: “Good career planners think like chess players, more than one move in advance.” Mentors, coaches, or good recruiter relationships can lend perspective and support. At CFW Careers, we act as both career advisors and recruiters. If you’re looking for career advice or are ready for a change, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Strengths First, Everything Else Second: An Interview with Marcus Buckingham. (n.d.). The Watercooler Newsletter. Retrieved July 6, 2016, from http://watercoolernewsletter.com/strengths-first-everything-else-second-an-interview-with-marcus-buckingham/#.V31aivkrKUk