CFW's Top 5 Tips for Successful Career Planning

Photo by DragonImages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by DragonImages/iStock / Getty Images

It’s that time of year: we’re trying to learn Mandarin, detoxing from caffeine, going Whole30… oh, and all of the good treadmills at the gym are taken, but it’s a-ok because we’re meditating now and no person hogging our exercise machinery can touch that zen, right? While our minds may be on the personal lifestyle changes we’re looking to make this 2019, it’s important to take this time to also think about your career and where you want to be by the time we close out Q4 this year (It’ll come sooner than you think!).

 

Whether you’re supremely happy in your current job, beginning to consider what comes next, or actively on the hunt, an intentional approach to career planning can help set you up for success and make the process easier. Here are some tips and tools our team has found to be most effective:

 

1.     Before you act, take time to reflect. This is an ideal time to hit the pause button and size up where you are in your career and where you’re going. Is your current job satisfying and rewarding or do you find yourself constantly checking the clock? Is it playing to your strengths and/or building new competencies? Is it moving you in the right direction, well positioning you to maximize your career advancement and earning potential, this year and into the future? We’re fans of career journaling and Day One facilitates the process. Even if it’s a once a year exercise, this can inform your plan going forward.

 

2.     Identify five career goals for 2019. Yes, this about setting monetary goals and quantifiable benchmarks, but it can also be about professional development—like taking on a stretch assignment, finding ways to be a better team player, or finding a mentor (or being a sponsor!). The best goals will challenge you but will be realistic and attainable. Some might require learning new skills, expanding your network, and even shaking things up with a fresh take on how you’re professionally defining yourself and your job. The possibilities are endless.

 

3.     Track your successes. This will not only make updating your resume a breeze; you’ll find it’s a great reminder of your accomplishments and an affirmation along the way. Capture quantifiable achievements, and anything else meritorious (“signed on a prestige logo ,” “achieved fastest conversion rate,” “penetrated a new category”). Be sure to also keep track of other professional achievements like taking on new levels of responsibility, being asked to spearhead a project or participating on a leadership committee.

 

4.     Build your personal brand. Who you are professionally goes beyond your title and your current job; it’s how you want to be defined in a bigger picture way (“I’m a driver of new business for fast-growing businesses…”), and it positions you for what’s next—highlighting what kind of job and business opportunity calls out for you. Once you’ve defined that, shout it from the rooftops—make it a part of every new introduction, and use it to inform the way you talk about yourself in an interview to how you present yourself online (Yes, it’s critical to fully flesh out your LinkedIn profile!) Also, think about articles you might author and post, opportunities to participate on panels, etc. Do that well, and that ideal job is all the more likely to come looking for you *and if it doesn’t, don’t worry, we’ll introduce you! ;)

 

5.     Expand your professional network. It often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but being disciplined about not only staying in touch with your current network but also adding new contacts is important. Take it a step further and evaluate that network: Is it aligned with your career direction-- not only who you need to know to get ahead, but also, what you need to learn from (about the lay of the land of an industry, the inside scoop on a company). Think about your contacts as relationships to be cultivated. One of our favorite books on the topic is Give & Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant—it’s an important reminder that one of the most powerful ways to get ahead is by extending a hand to help someone else first. 

 

… speaking of cultivating your professional network: whether or not you’re actively job seeking or planning to make a move this year, let us know where you’re headed in your career!  Having a sense of your career direction—including your ideal next position and requirements helps us be on the alert for you. If you’re casting about for direction, we may be able to help. Call us, or shoot us an email at careersteam@cfwcareers.com.