How to plan your career path



How to plan your career path

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a freshman in college. Like many students I had to work my way through school. I landed a part-time job at Sears. I saw it as a means to an end that would last a few months. My great-aunt happened to hear about my new job and made a point of congratulating me on my new career position. She encouraged me that I had a bright future ahead of me selling houseware fixtures. I did not have the heart to tell her that Sears did not hire career people at that time. They were going through reorganization and full-timers were being shown the door.

In her day a job at Sears or any other large company was a career position. The times have changed. Few people complete their work careers in the same place they began. By some estimates people may change jobs and careers four or five times. This has been my experience as I have moved through several jobs and am in the process of making a mid-career transition yet again.

What have I learned along the way? First, our careers follow a path. That path may have ups and downs. There may be unexpected turns. I used to envision graduating from college and automatically moving into a fulfilling career for 20 years of so and then retiring and living the good life. The reality of the journey has been anything but a long smooth road. A person needs a career management plan to serve as a roadmap so he or she know where they going and which opportunitites are likely get them to the goal.

How to plan your career path

Second, most employers are not committed to your career development. Organizations seem to be increasingly viewing their relationship with employees as a temporary arraignment designed to serve the needs of the bottom line. We need to be honest with ourselves about our tenure in organizations that are not committed to our career development. We may be motivated to stay because of income, status, or fear of change. However, we may need to consider a change for the sake of our careers.

Third, we have to be committed to managing our own careers regardless of the job. Our career promotion may and often does require a change of job. One of the greatest challenges I have faced is the need for my career’s sake to branch out into starting my own business.

Changes often bring an element of risk into our lives. A good friend of mine has been self-employed for a number of years but the current economy has severely hurt is business. He was offered a new job making a higher income than he makes now and including benefits as well as job security. My friend told me, «I am excited, but I am also scared to death.» The job will be a great promotion for his career but change brings risk.

We all have the responsibility to manage our careers. We live in a time when most employers are not committed to career development so the responsibility falls to us. What are we willing to do for the sake our career management. If we wait on our careers to «happen» we are likely to discover that what happens is not what we want.


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