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Do You Have a Career Plan?

Changing jobs or careers can be (and usually is) somewhat stressful. Even if everything goes smoothly, it’s still an emotional process. You start working at a different location, with different people, using different systems…the list goes on. Aside from the tangible differences, you likely feel like you’re leaving friendships behind. Of course you never really leave true friendships behind, but with the shuffle, it can take a while to get settled in.

Let’s say you just went through this process. You’ve experienced major changes, and you’re getting adjusted to your new role. At least you had a clear view of why you wanted to make the change….right?  I sure hope so, for your sake! But what if you didn’t? What if you made all of those changes before you identified where you wanted to go in your career, and what you wanted to accomplish with the overall process. Sounds kind of frightening to me!

Throughout my executive recruiting career, one thing I’ve consistently told candidates is this:
“Take some time to figure out what you want to do.”

This is a crucial step. Go take some time, maybe even turn off your phone, and write down the things you want to do in your day-to-day work, as well as what you want to accomplish in your overall career. This will help ease the stress of making a decision to transition. Rather than making a decision based on emotions or feeling like you’re going to lose out if you don’t make a move, you can make your decisions based upon the goals you’ve written down.

Now, hopefully, you can go through this process while you’re still employed, but not everyone gets that opportunity.  Either way, you’ll want to spend some time figuring out what you ultimately want to accomplish in your career. Imagine driving somewhere you’ve never been before, and not once looking at a map. How would you get there? It’s the same scenario when making a career change – you need a roadmap.

Here are just a few things you can do to prepare for a career change:

  • Take an assessment to identify your strengths
  • Conduct informational interviews with people who have a role similar to what you’re looking for
  • Get additional training so you are a stronger candidate for the role
  • Talk to friends about your strengths and their past career experiences
  • Do your research to find out if you’re really interested in a role, or if you just like the idea of it (As yourself: Are the tasks this role requires a good fit for my skill set, and do I want to spend 40+ hours a week doing them?)

I’ll tell you this, I’ve found that if you put the time into identifying what you’re really looking for in your next career opportunity, when you are in the interview for the job you want, you will be more prepared, more confident, and more passionate than the candidate who didn’t prepare.  That’s a great step for your next career move!