How do you plan your career at a time when job titles and duties are constantly changing, and technology is shifting entire industries? Gillian Fox says the old rules of career planning no longer apply. She outlines the three steps for defining a vision for your future that’s adaptable and dynamic, using a ‘Modern Career Plan’.
The traditional career plan is not only dead, but holding onto past career planning ideals can actually be detriment to your personal advancement at work, not to mention exhausting.
The mere idea of having certainty about the exact position you’d like to land in five or 10 years time can be extremely overwhelming. Will your coveted position even exist in the future?
Committing yourself to this approach could end in a severe career mishap, with you potentially over shooting, or completely missing out on your dream career because you didn’t even know it existed.
Can you remember titles such as Gaming Officer or Scrum Master being used five years ago? No? That’s because they didn’t exist. By the same token, the role you’re currently aiming to achieve may change, diminish in importance, or even be redundant in five years.
It’s time for a new approach when it comes to career planning.
Developing an agile, modern career plan
The modern career plan empowers women to create the role or career they want. That may be a career in a brand new industry, or within your own business or current organisation.
Developing an effective Modern Career Plan requires you to be self-reflective, agile, resourceful and driven. Get started on your plan by working through the following:
1. Know where you are now
All plans have a starting point and knowing where you stand today is critical. This awareness requires a large dose of personal honesty, including things you may not want to hear.
Consider your reputation for example. Do you know what you are known for in your organisation? Imagine if we ran a survey with the 10 people you work most closely with and asked them to use three words to describe you. What would they say? Would they be the three words you would want to hear? More importantly, would those three words support your future career aspirations, or would they suggest you’re going backwards or are stuck on a career plateau? Taking stock of where you’re at now is the only way to start moving forward.
2. Create a compelling vision for your future
A career vision is a mental picture of the future. Having a clear and compelling long term vision provides motivation and inspiration to keep on going, even when you are tested. In other words, it helps you move forward and navigate any obstacles that come up.
It’s important to anchor yourself to your larger career vision. For example, I know that in five years’ time I want my business to be less dependent on me. Instead of being physically front and centre every day, we’ll have more talented women on the team, delivering extraordinary career advancement programs.
In the short term, this means working less for 18 months as I support my son through the HSC. Post this, I’ll be back with more rigour and ambition to grow and develop the business. I have a dynamic vision for this phase too. It genuinely excites me.
Take the time to consider and create a vivid picture for your own career. Give yourself permission to pause and think about what you want your day to look like, the type of people you want to be working with, the level of responsibility you want to have, and the kind of workplace you want to be part of in five and 10 years time.
This is far more dynamic than saying I want X, or Y role in five years!
3. Review and re-align
Once you’ve gone away and done the work, you’ll understand where you are today and have a vision of where you’d like to end up.
The next step in the modern career process is to create an action plan to drive accountability. An action plan also needs to be agile and fluid. If you don’t stay agile in your career and only zero in on your short-term actions and what is happening now, you’ll be in danger of being left behind. Put simply, you may become less valuable in your environment — or, redundant. Unfortunately, most of us have direct or in-direct experience with this.
“Review and re-align” is what makes the Modern Career Plan so powerful. The truth is that you’ll never actually have the modern career path nailed for long. It’s not a concrete thing. The key to a successful plan is regularly questioning what is likely to change over the next three, four and five years.
You should review anticipated industry changes, job titles and new skill requirements based on your ongoing experiences, and take those learnings to re-align your vision and plans.
Successful, high performing leaders will tell you how career agility has allowed them to secure the opportunities others didn’t even see. And it’s completely possible for you to do it, too.
Where to from here?
It’s time to ditch the traditional way of thinking about what it means to “climb the corporate ladder” and stay ahead of your peers by adopting this new way of thinking.
It all starts with knowing where you are today so you can understand your real career possibilities.
Gillian Fox is currently offering the Women’s Career Advancement Program, a 6-month intensive career and leadership program launching May 17 that guides you through creating a modern career plan. You’ll work with an experienced mentor to create a compelling long term vision, coupled with the short term goals that will assist you in staying contemporary and relevant.