Career Ahead

Planning a career is something most young people do in broad outline terms - choosing a career is one of the biggest decisions most of us make. Some are lucky and know what they want to do and build a career from a solid basis but many of us just take the job we can get and then make the best of it.

The way we work has changed, we work for longer, and most people will probably have two or three different careers. Career planning is an ongoing process that we should all use to help manage learning, professional and personal development. A career plan enables:

  • thinking about strengths, values, skills and preferences;
  • optimising and exploiting work and learning options;
  • ensuring life/work balance as aspirations and personal circumstances change;
  • managing work and personal development plans to adapt to changes in the world of work.

The Society for Human Research Management suggests that a well-designed career is one where you can connect the dots between who you are, what you believe and what you are doing.

Whether at the start of your career, or mid-career, it’s a good idea to take the time to think ahead. Where do you see yourself in three or five years’ time? If it is likely that you will want to, or have to, make a change then having a broad brush career plan gives a good basis for further exploration of the options and possibilities that may be available.

A Strategy for a Changing World

In an ideal world we’d work out what direction to take and do it but most of us have constraints that play into career decisions. The other thing that holds us back is fear of change, fear of failure, but change is the only inevitability at play and being ready to seize an opportunity could make a world of difference to your career. A career strategy will enable you to cope with a changing work environment.

Look beyond your own job function and explore how the market is moving, challenges in the sector, disruptive technologies that will affect the industry and ensure you keep up. Do some horizon-scanning to work out where you could strengthen skills or close a skills gap. Don’t forget that you also need to keep developing the soft skills that make an effective manager and leader.

Having identified the qualifications and experience you have and what you need to acquire in addition, then it’s time to concentrate on networking. Make contact with those who can help you with information or put you in touch with others already on the path you want to tread. Don’t be inflexible, a career plan is just that, it is not written in stone, you might have a better idea or an epiphany, don’t tie yourself down, there are multiple options out there.

Context Matters

You can seek advice and mentoring but at the end of the day a happy and successful career is about doing work that is aligned with talents and strengths and also meaningful on a deeper level. Your career plan should be designed within the context of your life and values. Start with self-examination:

  • What have you enjoyed doing in your career to date?
  • What issues and causes do you care about?
  • How do you like to spend free time?

The answers to these questions point to what you genuinely care about and enjoy doing.

In short, change is inevitable and it’s better to have a plan that can be adjusted as the world and your job change. Preparation will help you adapt on your own terms, instead of making the best of where you find yourself


To see how Career Directed Solutions could help you or your team please contact us on 0333 240 8115 or email


Posted: Tuesday 20 March 2018

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