As a manager, do you feel as though you have achieved your full career potential? Do you have a career development plan in place and are following through with it? My guess to both of those questions is probably not. Whether your next professional challenge will be taking on a more senior role, a less senior role, or making a lateral move, careful planning and preparation can help you achieve your career goals.
Halogen has some great templates and resources that can help you focus your career journey. A great place to start is our free Career Management Plan Template. The template is designed to help you prepare a comprehensive career development plan and support your journey to the next milestone in your career. Here’s how it helps:
1. Clarifying your career goals gives you a sense of direction.
This begins with a goal management best practice of setting SMART goals. During this exercise, make sure you identify your desired role, area of expertise and when you want to achieve those goals. For example, I want to develop my competency and expertise to the level required to fulfill the role of human resources director at a mid-sized company within 6-8 years. Over time your career ambitions may change, That’s okay! In fact, it’s expected. But your career goals will give you something to focus on when thinking about what moves to make next.
2. Reflecting on your own performance gives you opportunities to realign your behaviors in a purposeful way.
How can you demonstrate that you are delivering strategic value to your organization? More importantly, what can you do to ensure senior leadership/decision makers in your organization are aware of your value? Hiring managers almost always consider previous experience and performance levels, so start identifying and taking advantage of your current opportunities to demonstrate high performance.
3. Your advocates can cheer for you, even when you can’t.
Inevitably, conversations relating to your dream job will happen without you in the room. Having someone else in the right place at the right time who will advocate for you can get you on the radar of decision makers. Think about who you may need to rely on to get a particular role and how you want people to think about you, your skills and abilities. The template will help you to identify these key influencers.
4. You are going to hold yourself accountable for achieving your career goals.
Since you went through all the trouble of actually thinking about how to get to your next career milestone, you’re going to actually execute on it. Right? (Tell me I’m right!) If you are someone who has trouble following through on a commitment, discuss it with others and ask them to help hold you accountable. Even if you need to make adjustments along the way— and you will— having your career development plan established means there are no excuses for inaction.
If you’re still not sure whether using a career management template will help you, let me leave you with this. How often were you asked while in school to write down what you wanted to be when you grew up? Probably more than you can count, right? And along the way, your answer might have even changed. One year you wanted to be a professional athlete, the next year an astronaut, and maybe even a police officer the following year.
Consider this the professional version of this exercise. Whether you’ve proactively thought about it or not, the decisions you make on a regular basis are setting the course for your journey towards your next career challenge. With a career management template, you will not only best be able to navigate those waters. You will also be doing what’s necessary to ensure you’re taking the best possible route, having conversations about your career development, and arriving to your destination prepared to be successful.