Sunday, February 21, 2010

3 ways to create a career plan

This month has been exceedingly busy for me. I have reviewed more than 10-15 resumes of soon-to-be May graduates every week for the past month. I've presented networking workshops to community organizations, interview tips to students in classrooms across campus, coordinated a Career Day and collaborated with consultants and senior administration to form a campus-wide Retention committee. Oh yeah, and I'm attempting to finish a 25-page research paper for grad school--due in April. One might say I have a lot on my plate right now. But I do not seek sympathy or praise, for everything on my plate is something I put there. Which also means these are things I can do something about. Earlier this year, I resigned from two boards because I realized I had too much to do and not enough time to do it with excellence. As difficult as it was, I had to make choices, set some priorities and focus on my goals.

As I reviewed my plan, I had to determine what things in my life would get me closer to my immediate goals and what things needed to be eliminated? Whether you are preparing to graduate from college, change careers or make your current career better, you need a plan. You will have to make some tough choices and then act on whatever you decide. So how do you develop a basic career plan? Here are a few discovery questions to ask and answer:

1)Assess your tools and resources. Do I have the tools and resources I need? These tools include: an updated, professional resume, an effective social media/online presence and good advisors who are current on recruiting trends and practices in your market and industry. Do I have an active network of family, friends and colleagues that I am fully using? Have I shared my goals with my network? Have I practiced articulating my personal brand statement? Can I list transferable accomplishments and skills I bring to an organization? Hint: There are wise people who want to help you develop these tools and skills. Find them, talk to them, listen to them and follow-through.

2)Set goals: Have you set broad goals in key areas of life? Key areas include, but are not limited to: Spiritual, Family, Relationships, Health/Fitness and of course, Career. What are my goals in each key area of life? What are my career goals? Am I willing to relocate? What's my timetable? Are my goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic and Timely? Create action items, set dates and write out details. Keep track of what you're doing in a binder or online notebook. Hint: Review your goals regularly and share them with a accountability partner you trust.

3)Look inside. What are those internal messages that hinder you? What are you afraid of? What family or financial pressures prevent you from doing what you really want to do? When and how can you change the pressures upon you? Do you have a realistic view of your job market and profession? How hard are you pursuing your passions? Do you believe you can make a living by doing your passion? Do you exercise regularly to release stress and stay strong? What are you doing to renew your spirit and be encouraged? Hint: Surround yourself with positive, honest people.

I recognize there are more questions than answers here. Yet, I'm convinced all the answers you seek are well within your reach. Every time I have a meeting with a student or alum seeking career or job search advice, I am reminded that there is no magic in what I do. I simply help reach inside, identify goals, create a plan and turn the mirror on you to hold you accountable for moving forward. Are you ready? Set? Go!