Career planning is not just something you do when you are starting out, continual monitoring and development is necessary to make sure that you stay on track. By Nic Paton
Former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine was famously said to have scribbled down his career path, including his ambition to become Prime Minister, on the back of an envelope while at university.
For most people, however, the development of their career is rarely that clear cut, and advice or help can often be needed along the way to ensure a professional career does not stagnate or head off into a backwater.
The key to successful career planning and development is remembering to step back from time to time and ask, "is my job fitting my skills, qualifications and aspirations?", says Sue Lamb, recruitment and development manager at recruitment agency OH Recruitment.
"You have to ask, what does your organisation want out of you. Are you fulfilled, are you meeting what your organisation wants, and if not, why not?" she says.
People should look at the organisation they are working for, she suggests, and see whether the areas in which they are working - perhaps a contentious issue such as sickness absence - are adding value to the company.
"Have you achieved what you have been asked to achieve, and is it now all within the realms of your knowledge? Are you ready to take on a new challenge, have you ceased chomping at the bit?" she adds.
One of the hardest elements of career planning is identifying when people have achieved their potential in an organisation, simply because it may be when they are feeling most on top of the job. But if they've done everything they want to within that company, then maybe it is time to move on, she asserts.
Also, it is worth taking a long, hard look at the company itself. To what extent is it expanding and what changes are expected to be seen in the next 12 months?
When someone has identified it is time to go, it is critical to sit down and think what it is they enjoy in their work and what skills they have that they may not be using already but wish to make use of in their next job.
Having a mentor to turn to for advice in this situation, or to help network with contemporaries, can be a vital component of the next career move, argues Lamb.