Recharge Your Career Plan
The days when people held one job for all or most of their working life are largely gone. So, we all need to take some time to recharge our career plan at least annually... even if the word career sends you running or doesn’t feel relevant. An annual refresh can help you in getting, keeping, and building towards better jobs.
Your career is made up of both life and work experiences. It develops through these opportunities and hinges on you being the leader making choices about its direction. Indeed, it has been said “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” (Seneca). This can be hard to remember while we are busy living the realities of our every days. However, it is key to career planning as it enables us to make our own luck, move toward our goals whatever they may be, and because it can give perspective on what we see happening around us.
Here is my annual checklist that helps keep me on track moving toward my goals and feeling secure that I won’t be left without options:
(1) What skills do I need to improve or develop? Otherwise stated, do I rely on others for certain tasks? Even if you don’t work for a company with a continuous improvement culture, you can take the lead. Allocate time to ensure you are not stagnant. This could be self-directed learning or more formal training. Not all training costs money.
(2) When was the last time I asked for feedback? Simply said, if you don’t ask you won’t know and therefore you will have no way of knowing what if any actions need to be taken. Hearing feedback (not only from your supervisor) can be difficult. I tend to ask for it in a one-to-one environment and then I just listen. Following, I digest and then define actions that address the feedback received.
(3) When was the last time I updated my resume? Good opportunities get filled fast. Having an up-to-date resume means that you aren’t left scrambling when an opportunity presents. As well, having many jobs over our lifetime will mean that we need to continue building our skills and learn how to transfer them from one job to the next.
(4) Have I recently reached out to stay connected? You want to be sure that your network is fresh and developing. Why? To ensure they are there in case something goes sideways, to stay on top of new trends, to share information, and to hear about opportunities (that often go unadvertised).
(5) Have I been there for my teammates or others? Go out of your way to ensure your relationships are positive and reciprocal. This will enable you to grow within your environment. If you are not ready, willing, and able to step up (e.g. taking on roles outside of your job description), then you may see pretty quickly that the best opportunities go elsewhere. If you don’t work in a team environment, or there is a related obstacle, what about reaching out to be or to develop a mentoring relationship? This can provide meaningful insight into your work and career plan.
(6) Am I learning about current issues and trends that impact me and/or my career? I am a strong advocate for life-long learning, including reading for fun and for information. Expand your knowledge on topics related to your community, job and industry. A lot of learning also happens in the everyday, which means it is important to be engaged in your every day through listening, watching, talking and doing.
(7) Have I committed to a healthy work-life balance? Being out of balance can make it difficult to be present both physically and mentally. It can take a toll on your mental and physical health, and your personal and work life. Employment wise, in worse case scenarios, you may burn out, risk losing your job, or have to take leave.
This checklist will help you build from your here and now toward your future through informed, active choices. If needed, your local employment centre can help with your annual refresh, which bit by bit can lead to having more “luck” (where preparation meets opportunity).