Time to plan your career

John Lees, author of the best-selling book How To Get A Job You’ll Love,
suggests taking a totally fresh look at your career

Having a career plan seems like hard work, so we don’t do it. We give more
time to home decoration decisions than our careers. The result? Our job changes
are guided mainly by chance. Creating your own career revolution, on the other
hand, can be done in just three simple steps.

Step 1: Career awareness

Career awareness focuses on what we can do now. It begins with three basic
questions:

What kind of work do I find meaningful and challenging? What outcomes does
my present or next employer really seek? How can I exploit the overlap, or
create one?

This is a model that requires you to audit yourself regularly. Spend at
least one day a quarter focusing on your career – cataloguing your successes
and looking at areas where you can add to your learning.

Career awareness is also about having a concrete wish list: your values, the
skills that energise you, and your personal motivators.

You become able to communicate a concise ‘message’, conveying what you want
to bring to your job within the next 12 months.

This doesn’t have to mean changing jobs, but it is healthy tobe prepared for
when it is time to move on.

Step 2: Using creative business thinking

We cannot rely on the career planning tools we learned from the previous
generation. If you want an above-average career, you need a better toolkit.

Lateral thinking in career development is about choice and strategy. Think
about what you can do next, and how you will get there, and not accepting
limitations before you have even started.

If you were an organisation, you might be holding a board meeting today.
Your company will only thrive if you develop new products and services. If your
planning meeting shoots down every new idea, the chances are you are going down
the tubes. Businesses know the value of ‘what if’ thinking, and how important
it is to push the benefits of new ideas.

Sadly, our mindset for career choice is locked in logical, A-Z thinking.
Lateral thinking has far more chance of coming up with an action plan that is
truly original and differentiates you from the pack.

Step 3: Open the exploration box

To fully explore ideas about your career future, avoid the temptation of
‘yes-no’ thinking. See how quickly you find a reason to say ‘no’ to a job idea
– we are eager to find a reason why challenging ideas won’t work. We put
decision-making too early in the process, and don’t spend enough time really
exploring options.

Recruit supporters who will actively help you explore and research options,
and will push you to see the benefits of doing things differently. Exploration
requires you to deal with what’s out there, which means talking to real people
about real jobs. Whether you are after promotion or the next career move, think
research before job search.

Career revolution: the result

If you want an average career with average career satisfaction, continue the
passive route. Promotion, a new balance, or a better job may well mean not just
a new CV, but a new way of thinking about your choices.

How To Get A Job You’ll Love is available from McGraw-Hill, www.mcgraw-hill.co.uk

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