Career Plans That Make Sense

Nancy Anderson
Posted by in Career Advice

We were so geared up for the new millenium and in what will seem like a blink of an eye, we will be are already looking at the end of 2010. As usual, proactive professionals will make their annual career plan. Instead of developing generic career plans with vague objectives and unseemingly attainable goals, I want you to use the following strategies for career planning that make sense.

1) Get SMART about career planning

True professional success and career mastery don't just happen or fall into place because of good luck or the right circumstances. It takes careful planning, diligence and commitment to become a well respected, trusted authority in your industry, profession or field.

-- Carefully consider where you want to be in the next 12 - 36 months

-- Conduct a gap analysis to identify what additional skills you may need and the best ways to achieve them - for example, new degrees, certification, experience and advanced training that will take you to the next level

-- Identify mentors, key industry players and other successful professionals you admire and start connecting with them and building solid relationships.

-- Make your career aspirations real and personal to you by writing it down on paper and reviewing it frequently; consider partnering with a career coach to help keep you motivated and on track.

2) Build a strong personal brand and get visible

Your career success is directly tied to your unique brand and the ability to stand out from your peers and colleagues. Your career/personal brand should clearly reflect and promote your areas of expertise and your unique promise of value.

-- Develop a plan for own personal brand identity system that includes both online and offline strategies.

-- Create and keep an updated LinkedIn profile and make sure it includes recommendations from previous employers and colleagues.

-- Get creative and bring your personal brand and career reputation to life with a VisualCV.

-- Compile a brief Google profile so that you are easily found when interested employers and recruiters want to learn more about you.

-- Join and actively participate in company blogs, industry forum and professional online discussion - it is an excellent way to promote your knowledge and establish yourself as a thought leader.

3) Be able to articulate your value in a nutshell

Your perceived value ROI to companies is directly related to the type of salary you can command in your industry and the leverage you have in terms of raises, promotions and bonuses. However, if you don't know and understand your true value, you cannot wait for someone else to figure it out for you.

-- Be proactive in chronicling your career achievements every six to twelve months.

-- Consider your direct impact and contributions to your company in terms of revenue growth, cost savings, image reputation, customer attraction, market expansion, technology integration and much more.

-- Focusing on quantifying your achievements as dollars, cents and percentages really creates a compelling story.

-- Keep your resume updated and don't wait until there is a crisis to have a portfolio of career marketing documents handy.

4) Get in the mix, nurture your relationships, build an active network

No matter how fantastic and likeable you are, success in today's corporate and work environment is a lot easier when you have a vibrant, active and growing professional and personal network.

-- Volunteer for internal and external company events and take advantage of opportunities to represent the company at conferences, forums and trade shows.

-- Join two or three professional and industry organizations that you can participate in on a regular basis.

-- Think outside the box and seek out new relationships and partnerships with clients, vendors and strategic partners.

5) Make a personal commitment to becoming a lifelong learner

I always remember working with a displaced worker who was let go from an industry that got through a complete transformation due to technology innovation. She was at a loss when determining her next career move because she had not done anything in 20 years to stay competitive, marketable or employable in her field.

-- Pay attention to evolving trends in your industry and identify the major skills and/or new technologies that are important.

-- Use annual association conferences and local business events as opportunities for informal education.

-- Research and register for appropriate e-courses, training programs and
professional certification classes that would directly benefit your career.

About the writer:

Abby M. Locke ( is a career marketing strategist and leadership brand coach who partners with 6 figure executives and professional MBA women to help them achieve true career mastery and success through cutting-edge, career branded communications, innovative job search campaigns, and proactive career management tools.

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