Building a Career Advancement Plan

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Whether you have been in your industry a while or are just starting a career in a new profession, a career advancement plan is essential in making sure you achieve your career goals.  When you lack an advancement plan, you don’t hold yourself accountable to striving towards your goals and you get comfortable in your current routine.

An advancement plan is easy to create and will keep you on the right track if you follow these useful tips.

Determine your end goal.
Take a few minutes and reflect on the following questions:
–      What is the ideal position you’d like to be in at the peak of your career?
–      Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
–      Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Asking yourself these questions will help you set goals for yourself that are long-term.  As within all aspects of life, you need to be clear about your direction.  If you don’t know where you want to go, then you may not be satisfied with where you end up.   Determining where you’d like to be in a set amount of time helps you stay grounded in reality but have focus on what you’re driving towards.

Figure out what attracts you about that goal.
Figuring out the purpose in achieving your career goals is as important as the goal itself.  If you establish goals that won’t be fulfilling to you, you’re less likely to put in the effort it takes to achieve them.  In order to be happy, you need a goal that keeps you motivated.   Don’t make career goals just for the sake of making them or because you think it’s want someone else wants.

Ask yourself these questions:
–      Why do I want to reach these goals?
–      How will I feel when these goals are reached?
–      What will I gain when reaching these goals?
–      What challenges and rewards will I face in working towards these goals?

If you have trouble answering these questions, or feel that the challenges will be greater than the rewards, you may want to reformulate your goals.

Assess where you currently are in relation to your end goal.
Once you figure out where you want to go, you need to evaluate your current position.  Is your current field or industry the best path to your goal? For example, if your dream is to own your own architectural firm, you’ll need to understand the art, engineering, and business side of the industry.  Evaluating which of the three areas is most important will help you determine your focus on which types of positions to take. Make a list of the knowledge and skills you have in each.  Assess strengths and weaknesses, and how they relate to your career path.

Figure out the gaps.

You’ve determined your end goal and assessed where you are now.  The next step is to figure out what lies between.  Find a few job descriptions similar to your dream job.  This is the best way to get specific information about the required skills and experience. Go through the description line by line and compare your current education, skills, and experience to what is required.  Then, identify where the biggest gaps are.  You’ll start to notice themes in which areas you need to focus the most on.  Turn these themes into action items.  For example, if the descriptions all require certain certifications that you don’t have, you can now research how to obtain those.

Write down your action plan.
This is the most concrete part of your advancement plan.  Here you’ll define the steps you will actually take to work towards achieving your goal. Make a list of everything that needs to be done.  Include items such as earning educational credits, obtaining new certifications, changing industries, or being promoted to a management position in the industry you’re currently in.

After listing all the steps, prioritize them and put them in the order in which they need to be completed.  Set an ideal timetable for completing each step.  Chances are you won’t stick to this initial timeline, but it will help set guidelines to hold you accountable and can always be revised later.

Share your plan with a friend, family member or mentor.  They’ll be able to give you any advice or leads they have to help you advance from step to step.  It also helps to have someone else to hold you accountable.

If you need help making an industry move or are looking to make the next leap into a more advanced position in the engineering or architectural fields, the recruiters at RealStreet Staffing would be happy to help you.  Search the available positions on our career page or contact us today for more information.

RealStreet has been an excellent partner in understanding our programs’ unique staffing requirements-skills, experience, clearances, seasonality—and consistently provides qualified and highly productive team members who are often recognized by our customers for their performance.

Cheryll Bissell

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