When trying to map a career path, it’s critical to figure out what makes you unique. Your career is never in neutral. You are either moving in reverse, moving forward “accidentally”, or moving forward purposefully.
Consider the following tips on how to chart a path for your career.
Identify your unique strengths
If you want a rewarding career, you’re going to have to focus on more than just getting a big paycheck or jobs with a lot of prestige. Those things are nice, but they aren’t important when it comes to sustaining a rewarding career over four or five decades.
Instead, focus on finding work that plays to your natural strengths. For instance, if you’re a visual person, you may want to get into creating things that have a visual appeal, like web pages or advertisements. If you’re a numbers person, you might be better suited to working in Big Data or machine learning algorithms.
A plan doesn’t need to be overly complicated. It also doesn’t translate to you needing to leave your current employer. It does, however, require you to start answering a few tough questions about you and your current situation.
I recommend starting simple:
- What is your next, next role? (What lack of skills and experiences are holding you back?)
- Are your talents and contributions being appreciated? (Outside of just compensation, what’s missing?)
- Do you have the opportunity to advance? (Does your current employer have the ability to support your growth? Are you building the appropriate relationships?)
- Ultimately, what role are you working towards and what is the purpose that drives your career? (What is the realistic timeline?)
Place a checkpoint on your calendar every 3 to 6 months to consistently force yourself to answer these basic questions. If you are unsure whether your current situation will move you to where you want to be, consider finding a Mentor or becoming one. In addition to expanding your knowledge or sharing your talents, it will demonstrate to future employers maturity and involvement.
Don’t plan on a straight line
Some people seem to know precisely what they want to do for a living from the get-go, even before they take their first job. However, most of us just have a general sense, particularly at the outset of our careers. It’s perfectly normal to start in one area of expertise, only to figure out you are much better in a different area.
Rotational programs can be a fantastic approach to dip a toe in many different waters. Offered by big businesses, these programs offer new staff members an array of assignments over their first two to three years. This can allow you to get a sense of what you’re good at, where your talents could have the biggest impact and what you can achieve throughout your career.
Surround yourself with people who are career minded, who can motivate you and who can hold you accountable to your career goals. Share your plans with others to make it harder on yourself to back out. It is easy to just let life happen to you and not take charge when you see others doing the same.
Don’t only focus on advancement
A meaningful career path is one that prioritizes regular advancement because it always offers something to work towards. Yet, setting objectives for yourself doesn’t invariably mean always striving for the next promotion or big move up. The key is to always look for development, learning and performance opportunities.
Look for chances to keep adding value to your career, even in your current job. For instance, you can attend an industry event, do volunteer work or join a committee.
Your career satisfaction should depend less on how far up you go than on how much satisfaction you can get from your work.
Keep an open mind
Whenever possible, say yes to achievable professional challenges. It may seem intimidating to take on some assignments and opportunities, but stretching yourself is the best approach to learning and advancing your career.
Career management is not an event- it’s a process. Evaluate your interests and career progression often and ensure you are taking the reins to drive positive change- not just hoping for it to happen to you.
At Thompson Technologies, we are dedicated to connecting ambitious professionals to career opportunities. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your career.