Career planning and management involves the conscious mapping out of professional goals and the actions that need to be taken to reach those goals. It can be done on your own or with the help of a mentor, and should include:
- Identifying a medium-to-long-term goal you would like to reach in your career. Use our SMART goals blog and goal setting template to set SMART goals for your career.
- Thinking about the different job roles and career pathways you might want to take and mapping out the following practical elements to further guide your planning.
Job description templates
Think about the job requirements of your goal job role, including experience and seniority, key tasks and objectives, and any direct reports you may have. Read through different job descriptions and job adverts of your desired role and use that information to determine the skills that are needed if you are unsure.
List the competencies required to progress in your chosen field. Think about soft and hard skills, as well as leadership competencies. Compare this list with the job description templates you have created.
Think about your personal strengths and core values – how might these help you to progress in your chosen pathway? Are you more assertive or empathetic? Are you organised and an effective communicator? Consider looking at personality and behavioural tests to develop your understanding of your own working style.
Think also about your weaknesses. Take some time for self-reflection and look at any potential weaknesses or skills gaps as opportunities for growth and development. Try to plan specific ways you can address these gaps when making your career plan.
Are there any concrete steps you can take to get more experience in your chosen pathway? Consider options like undertaking a secondment at your current organisation, asking about suitable training programmes or even shadowing a colleague.
- Consult your mentor – your mentor has professional experience in your industry and will be in a good position to provide advice on areas for improvement and potential skills needed to progress.
- Think about realistic timescales – how long will it take you to reach your goal? Are there smaller goals or milestones along the way that can be celebrated?
- It’s important to stay flexible and adapt to changing goals. Not all career paths are linear, so consider sideways promotions and different industries that could help your overall professional development, even if they are not directly linked to your overall career goal.
- A career plan is not something you create and never look at again. Aim to revisit and adapt the plan two or three times a year or whenever there are any significant changes to your role and development.
Strategic career planning – what next?
Once you’ve come up with an action plan, there are a number of things you can do to help boost your chances of success in reaching your desired professional goal:
- Use LinkedIn to follow companies you are interested in working for to get relevant updates and a better understanding of their culture. Not every company will be able to accommodate your working preferences and preferred management style. It is helpful to have a good idea of what you most value in a workplace, e.g.: good work life balance, promotion opportunities, the ability to work remotely, or a sociable work environment, and pinpoint which companies and opportunities align with your values.
- Connect with members of the internal talent team at specific companies so that you can be alerted when they are hiring – it can be helpful to note the roles they advertise and their requirements so you can better assess the industry demand and where you may have missing skills gaps.
- Sign up for job alerts on job boards that match roles you are interested in. LinkedIn Jobs has functionality to create job alerts and recommend you jobs you may be interested in based on your search history.
- Network with recruiters who specialise in your industry. They will be best placed to offer you the best career advice on salary benchmarking, the current hiring market and how to succeed at interview. Intelligent People are a specialist product management recruitment agency, placing product management candidates within scale-up and enterprise B2B and B2C brands.