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10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Develop Your Career Plan

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

Developing a career path can be an intimidating task, especially when you try to create one that is tailored around you. To help illuminate a path that can lead you to your goals, ask yourself these 10 questions.

START WITH YOU.

1. WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TABLE? WRITE DOWN YOUR STRENGTHS, PASSIONS, AND UNIQUE QUALITIES.

Think about your strengths, passions, and unique qualities. When considering your strengths, it can help to think about areas where people seek your expertise.

For passions, focus on when you feel your best and what brings you energy.

Finally, remember to consider how you are unique not just in general, but with a lens on your industry – for example, communication and E.Q. skills can help you to stand out in industries like tech.

2. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE TO LOOK LIKE? WRITE DOWN YOUR DESIRED IMPACT AND VERSION OF SUCCESS.

Leaving a positive impact on the world and living a fulfilling life tailored to oneself is increasingly sought after as technological advancements enable different lifestyles and present new opportunities for impact. Understand what impact and success means to you.

Your impact could be local to your community, on your team or company, or larger scales beyond. Think about what inspires you, what has helped you or could have done, and who you could uplift.

When contemplating your version of success, remove the limits on what your life and career could be. Consider what brings you happiness, your desired impact, those who inspire you, and your preferred lifestyle.

3. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT? WRITE DOWN YOUR TOP 3 TOPICS.

The modern world and technology in particular is continuously changing. Getting comfortable with learning and, better yet, enjoying learning is far more achievable when you are interested in the topic.

Think about what could help you understand what career path to take, excel in your current role, push towards the next level, and what simply interests you.

Woman on sofa looking for tech job on her laptop

DO YOUR RESEARCH.

4. WHAT ARE COMPANIES EXPLICITLY LOOKING FOR? WRITE DOWN THE SKILLS, EXPERIENCES, AND COMPETENCIES THAT ARE HIGHLIGHTED BY COMPANIES THAT ALIGN WITH YOUR VALUES / GOALS.

Job specs and company career pages are good places to begin your research into skills and experiences expected by these companies at different levels. This information will inform the foundation of your career plan.

Competencies are X that companies will frequently ask interview questions about times you demonstrated these skills. You can often find company competencies listed on their website e, look at their about us and career pages. Alternatively third-party sources like Wikipedia may have some information. The final option is to deduce their competencies from how they describe themselves and how they operate.

As you research, make sure your goals and values still align with the company’s opportunities and values.

5. WHAT ARE OTHERS DOING TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT THESE COMPANIES? WRITE DOWN THE CAREER PATHS OTHERS TOOK AND WHAT SKILLS THEY ACQUIRED.

It’s time to break out LinkedIn. Research those who work in your dream job and the path they took to get there. Further research those who are currently in the roles of those along the path to your dream job.

Researching multiple people is necessary to gain exposure to a wider variety of career paths, build a deeper understanding of the skills and experiences required, and take into consideration how required skills, available pathways, and the wider industry has changed over time. There is no point learning an outdated language for example.

Keep track of what skills and experiences are frequently highlighted on these profiles – they will likely be things you will have to focus on too.

6. WHERE IS THE DIRECTION OF THE MARKET HEADING? WRITE DOWN WHAT INTERESTS YOU AND WHERE DO YOUR SKILLS CURRENTLY, OR COULD WITH TRAINING, INTERSECT.

By looking ahead, you can future proof your skills and help you bring something unique to the team. Be strategic and mindful with your moves – you don’t want to jump on every trend that comes along and lose time investing in something with more longevity.

Tech news sites, conferences, and areas where companies are doing research and making early investments into can offer insights into what technical skills and domain knowledge could be useful to leverage or acquire.

This research also aids in building tech knowledge that can help start conversations in networking events.

Planning with post its

MAKE THE PLAN PRACTICAL.

7. WHAT DOES YOUR VERSION OF SUCCESS LOOK LIKE IN 1 YEAR, 5 YEARS, 10 YEARS? WRITE DOWN YOUR CAREER GOALS THAT YOU CAN INCREMENTALLY WORK TOWARD.

With the research that you have done on what career paths can look like, how long they take, and where they end up, break down your career goal into incremental steps. These steps can include changing work roles, promotions, going back to education, etc.

The most important periods to focus on are 1, 5, and 10 years as early wins are achievable in the short term and ultimately compound to create larger wins in the long run. Think about what skills you have that will help you, where you can grow, and what experiences you should acquire to help you thrive in that role and push you to the next one.

Career goals and paths will naturally change as you and circumstances change, but having a plan will help you make steady progress in pursuit of your current goal. When it is time for a pivot, you will be better off for having grown and be able to leverage your skills in your new path.

8. WHO CAN HELP YOU? WRITE DOWN WHO IN YOUR NETWORK CAN HELP AND HOW YOU CAN DEVELOP YOUR NETWORK FURTHER.

Your network will be one of your most important assets. Investing in your network by building mutually beneficial relationships will leads to community you can lean on when you need help and new opportunities to progress your career.

Most jobs are filled internally or through networks. Building your network gives you an “in” to companies with referrals and introductions with key people.

Find events through online sites like EventBrite and LinkedIn, industry communities and organizations, and your network.

9. WHAT CHALLENGES COULD YOU FACE ALONG THE WAY? WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY ARE AND HOW YOU CAN PREPARE FOR, MITIGATE, OR OVERCOME THEM.

Facing challenges is just a fact of life – it shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing what you hope to achieve in your life. By considering what challenges you could face and creating a plan, you relieve yourself of some of the stress of the unknown, and ultimately better tackle the challenge and set yourself up for success in the long run.

Consider what you could learn, who could help you, and what you could change.

10. WHAT CAN I DO TO KEEP MYSELF ON TRACK? WRITE DOWN A COUPLE STRATEGIES YOU CAN TAKE TO MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS AND MAINTAIN YOUR DISCIPLINE.

Finally, with all this in hand, it is time to start executing! Maintaining motivation and ensuring you stay on a path that is relevant, effective, and true to you is hard. Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

– Keep a log of what you have learnt and what you want to learn next

– Book in time to learn or invest in yourself into your calendar

– Start with easy wins, and invest in long term opportunities and learnings

– Book in semi-regular meetings with your manager to get feedback and track your progress

– Create regular meet up sessions with your network to talk about how you are progressing toward your goals and motivate each other

– Reward yourself when you reach incremental checkpoints and goals

– Regularly update your LinkedIn so it is ready when you need it and it helps you passively in the meantime

Follow these 10 steps and you will be well on your way to pursuing your life + career goals with actionable steps informed by tailored research. Good luck! And remember it is okay it evolve the plan as you evolve.

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