• 6 hours
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Last updated on 4/28/21

Define your career plan

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Mind mapping can help you draft your career plan.
Mind mapping can help you draft your career plan.

Ready to finish developing your career plan? You have worked on your skills profile and explored professional sectors that attract and interest you, as well as specific companies and jobs or professions.

You’re now going to visualise yourself in a professional situation that you think will suit you!

Step 3: Visualise yourself in professional contexts

A professional context consists of various components of your daily working environment:

  • type of business or organisation;

  • business sector; products or services, etc.;

  • management style;

  • level of specialisation required for certain professions;

  • positioning within the organisation; and

  • opportunities for career development in the medium term.

All of these aspects will influence your work on a daily basis, so it’s important to think about them when you are building your career plan, or even to use them as criteria for refining it.

Here are some examples:

  • Being a web developer in a software firm, start-up, or large company will mean different things in terms of teamwork, customers, performance goals and management.

  • The same thing can be said about working in big city like London, in a village, or in a foreign country.

  • The type of activity will also mean you encounter very different colleagues, clients, and corporate culture. For example, tourism, cosmetics or the automotive industry all have distinct values, challenges and business cultures.

Once again, it will be helpful to think outside the box and ask yourself:

What does it take for me to thrive at work?

  • Do you need to broaden your skill set or make it more specialised? Are you targeting a large group or organisation or a major consulting firm?

  • Do you feel the need to identify with a brand or a recognised name? Have a look at well-known firms like Google.

  • Do you need the support and structure of a company with its own decision-making policies in place? In this case, it may be best to look at large, structured companies.

  • Do you enjoy flexibility, pressure, creativity? Consider start-ups, smaller structures, subsidiaries or branches of a larger group, SMEs, etc. Or why not try creating your own company?

  • Do you prefer to be independent? Try smaller-sized organisations or start your own business.

  • Do you want to put your customer service skills to use in a well-structured environment? The public service sector may be the right fit for you.

  • Do you like to work in the field, travel regularly and enjoy meeting clients and staff? Or do you prefer working in a traditional office environment?

  • Do you want to work overseas? Depending on your country of choice, the professional opportunities may not be the same, so it is a good idea to carefully consider your options before following this through.  

Consider geographic mobility

If your working location is limited to a small geographical area, be aware this will inevitably limit your job options and opportunities.

  • What is feasible for you?

  • Where and how far away would you be willing to work and live?

Be open to the possibility of relocating to another city or you risk missing out on some great opportunities!

Anticipate the future

If I choose this career, what opportunities exist for career development?

For example:

  • I would like to start in a digital marketing job at the head office of a leading large retail company; then I would like to become marketing director of a fast-growing start-up to drive their online sales.

  • Before creating my own office design consultancy, I would first like to work in London for a company with recognised expertise in this sector.

What is important is that there is a common or guiding thread of what seems feasible, consistent with your skills, desires, goals and the reality of the job market!

Over to you! 😁

Expand your mind map by visualising various professional contexts. In other words, describe a variety of concrete situations that you would find yourself in based on your short-term goals.

Mind map expanding into concrete professional contexts.
Mind map expanding into professional contexts.

Step 4: Assess feasibility

This step encourages you to check whether your plan is ‘feasible’.

In other words, which of the professional situations you are considering is the most:

  • realistic: reflecting the reality and opportunities of the job market?

  • achievable: with regard to your current skills and those you can develop?  

To discover whether your career plan is realistic, you should check the following:

Is the profession related to this concrete situation economically sound?

  • Is it connected to an industry that is under threat (textile, printing, etc.)?

  • Or is it in a growing, high-demand field (consultancy, IT, etc.)?

What is the outlook for the particular job, sector of activity or geographical area that interests me?

You can have a very attractive skills profile, but if no one needs you, it’s time to rethink your plan!

In order to discover whether your career plan is achievable, you should:

  • Have a look at job offers and ideal candidate profiles for your sector/career; check the level of skills and experience required.

  • Be honest with yourself and ask the following questions:

What are my abilities and limits right now?

 What would I be willing to give up or do without, if necessary?

Does my profile correspond to the professional demands and requirements of this job? 

Do I have the knowledge and skills required to achieve my goals? If not, how can I do this?

Think in terms of career development phases and include them in your plan.

Let’s take the example of Julia, 22 years old, with a Master's Degree in Communication, who is looking to work as a communications manager in an ad agency. The job requires at least five years of professional experience which she doesn't have. To cut her teeth, Julia accepts a job as a project communications assistant with an agency. She gains experience and skills, and gradually moves onto the role of project manager. After about two years in this capacity, she can now apply for jobs as a communications manager.

Thinking about your career development will help define the stages in your professional advancement and set intermediate goals, time frames and indicators of success, not forgetting resources and methods to achieve them. In essence, work on your action plan! 

Achieving my goals

It’s OK to change career plans! It’s far from unreasonable to change your career plan after the first couple of years, or to have two different plans.

You can very well have a main career plan as well as an alternative plan that might need to mature over time (like moving abroad or starting your own company).

With experience, you’ll get to know yourself better in the heat of the action; your expectations and needs will also shift. Nothing is set in stone - in fact, everything changes and evolves - like you! Your career plan will need to be reviewed and tweaked many times throughout your career.

Over to you! 😁

Complete your mind map by adding feasibility criteria for the different careers and professional situations you are considering. On the one hand, according to job market offers, on the other hand based on your current skills.

Map mind explanding into feasibility assessments.
Mind map expanding into feasibility assessments.

You now have the first draft of your career plan! Maybe even two drafts? How can you put it into action? Have a look at our other courses for tips and advice.

Summary

There are 2 steps to finalise your career plan:

  • Visualise yourself in 2 or 3 professional situations: a specific post, a sector of activity, a type of company, a work location, everything that will be part of your daily routine!

    • What do you need to thrive?

    • Are you willing to relocate? If so, how far away?

    • What career progression would you like to have?

  • Assess the feasibility of your plan:

    • Is it realistic given job market requirements and ideal candidate profiles?

    • Is it achievable given your current skills and circumstances?

And don’t forget that, like you, your career plan will live, breathe and evolve!

Remember to adjust your plan periodically. Take time to step back and reflect on your career so far. What are the skills you’ve acquired and what are your ambitions and expectations? What does it take for you to simply be happy, efficient and fulfilled at work?

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement