Career planning can be stressful and overwhelming. Individuals may want to change careers often, but changing jobs isn't all that easy.
Before a person abandons a job to pursue a new career there is a lot to be considered. Which career path is a better fit? How can one pay for computer school classes with a tight budget? Should I quit my job, or try to keep it and go to IT school part-time or at night?
It is important to answer these questions before making a plan because it could take years to identify what an individual is really good at, and what career is best. Succeeding in the workplace, where changing jobs and careers on a whim may make it harder to get your dream job in the future, calls for focusing on career management to guide your decisions.
Want to develop a great career plan? First, think of yourself as a product you are trying to sell. What differentiates you from other job candidates? Can you explain to potential employers why they should choose you over other applicants?
Not sure how to get started? Here is how to go about it professionally!
#1: Update Your Resume
One of the first steps in planning a career shift is creating an impressive, up-to-date resume. Keep current copies of your resume handy, so you can immediately drop off a copy, or upload a digital copy to online job listings, if you hear about a promising opening.
It doesn't matter if you are just entering the workforce, or have reached upper-level management, periodically updating your resume is an easy way to proactively manage your career. There are many resume templates online to help you get started. Or, you could hire a professional to design the resume, then take care of any updates going forward.
#2: Review Career Plans
You may be interested in changing jobs, and it might always be at the back of your mind, but have you ever taken time to discuss your plans, dreams and fears with your peers or family? Even if you have spent time with a career coach or computer school counselor mapping your career path, you may find friends and colleagues have great advice to share about shifting careers.
Having a clear set of goals that will move you closer to your new career – taking classes, sending out resumes, getting industry certifications, etc. – is an excellent way to make sure you stay on track. Some people include having those difficult conversations and career planning goals in their New Year's resolution list.
#3: Investigate And Explore
Before you give up a good job, or accept a job offer in a new field, make sure that the position is a good fit for you. Money is important, but it isn't everything. Just because a job sounds good in an advertisement doesn't mean you would love the position day after day, year after year. Even a pay raise may not be enough to compensate if you dive into a job that you are over-qualified for or in a field that doesn't excite you.
Explore potential jobs thoroughly. Research the duties and responsibilities. And, ask lots of questions if you secure an interview. At the very least you should know what to expect on the first day of a job, and what type of advancement opportunities are available.
#4: Reflect on Career Advice
You may have participated in career counseling sessions through high school or vocational school programs. If so, reflecting on those sessions may help you solidify your plans for the future.
Think about the plans or recommendations the counselor suggested. Did you follow the advice given? If not, why? Do you feel like you had good results from the career counseling exercise?
Ask yourself these questions to help you determine if you need a new career plan, or you need to revise the current plan.
- Are you happy with your current job?
- What type of job would you probably have if you weren't in the field you are currently working in?
- How can you change your future?
- What do you expect to get back from a job or career?
- Are you dissatisfied with your professional life or your life in general?
Answers to these questions may provide hints about the best way to move forward, and when.
#5: Revisit Career Assessment Sessions
Every year there are many career assessment events hosted at local universities, community job fairs and trade schools. Some people recommend you participate in an annual career assessment to make sure you never miss an opportunity to invest in your future.
One assessment technique, the SWOT analysis, can be used by individuals or organizations. This survey provides a way to identify key areas of interest that impact performance. As a career-planning strategy, the SWOT analysis allows individuals to me identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as assess opportunities and threats within their current workplace.
An annual review allows you to focus on potential growth within an organization, explore knowledge gaps and identify training and education options to overcome weaknesses.
#6: Speak Up!
Sometimes people don't get that promotion or move up the corporate ladder because they lack confidence necessary to step up in a crisis. Be proactive. Look for problems that you know you can solve. Then, approach your supervisor with a solution and offer to lead a team to implement the solution.
There doesn't have to be a crisis in order for you to put your skill and knowledge gained through trade school courses to good use. You invested time and money getting an education, the best way to get a healthy ROI is to speak up when you see something that could save the organization money, make work more efficient or improve customer service.
Career planning may seem overwhelming at first glance. In reality, career planning isn't something most people only do once, it is an ongoing process that involves periodically reviewing your career choices and making adjustments as necessary to ensure you have a rewarding, fulfilling work life. Following the above six tips above will help you create a career path, and modify it through the years as your life goals change.
CCI Training Center provides excellent resources to people who want to expand their knowledge base or launch a new career. On-campus and online Dallas computer school certification classes prepare students to take and pass in-demand, industry certification exams in the healthcare and information technology sectors. CCI counselors are available to assist with resume design, skill assessments, career planning and job search activities.