How to plan your next career move in 6 easy steps
When was the last time you were really excited about your job? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to stop and rethink your career.
Often, we end up in jobs and career paths because opportunities present themselves and it seemed like the right thing to do. By carefully planning for your next career move and having clear goals, you will be in a position to find a job that really suits you.
Here’s our 6-step guide to help your career move.
- What do you want (or not want) from the next stage in your career?
Do you want a job that brings more career opportunities, more travel, managing people or a sense of purpose? Or perhaps it’s one of the top aspects that Hudson research has found that professionals look for in a new role: the right salary, work-life balance, career progression, and cultural fit.1
On the other hand, the research also found that people would leave their jobs due to boredom/lack of challenge, lack of career progression and disappointment with the salary. Is this you?
It might be easy to know what you definitely don’t want, but you might find it challenging to be clear about what you absolutely do want. It could help to separate your wants into ‘essential’ and ‘nice to have’, as it might be hard to find a job that meets all criteria on your list.
- What kind of workplace do you want to work in?
Everyone is different and so is every work culture. To help gauge which environment you thrive in, it might help to write down what you have enjoyed about your previous and current jobs.
Perhaps there is a common thread to the organisations you thrived in. It helps to write a wish list of the kind of company you’d like to work for because it’s a win-win when you fit the culture. Think about the structure and values that would complement your working style.
For those who enjoy formal processes and structure, an entrepreneurial environment may not be for you. On the other hand, working for a company known for its collaborative culture may not be a great fit for you if you are someone who prefers to work autonomously.
- Can you fix it now?
If you decide that you love what you do but just want a better work-life balance or more money, could you get these things at your current workplace?
If possible, it’s worth sitting down with your manager and sharing your thoughts.
If you are concerned about the lack of challenge and career progression, could you ask for training and widen your work scope? Could you negotiate a pay increase?
By speaking to your manager, you will be able to uncover if your needs can be met where you are. Alternatively, you may find there is no other option but to leave.
- SWOT yourself.
Just as a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat analysis (SWOT) helps companies evaluate where they stand, you can gauge your own potential with a SWOT analysis.
In the changing work environment, more employers look for employees that excel at soft skills like communicating well with stakeholders, thus when listing your capabilities, you should include both technical and soft skills.
This is a good time to do some preliminary job searching for the kind of roles you’d like to take on, and to stack your capabilities against the competencies they are looking for.
If you’re looking for a role with new challenges and the opportunity to learn, it’s likely there’ll be a gap between your current skills and the expertise that employers are looking for. Now is the time to think about how you can bridge that gap.
For example, you may find that the roles you are interested in require people management experience that you don’t have. Could you do a management course to help you bridge the gap? Could you take on new projects in your current role to help build up the required experience before you leave? Or do you have people management experience outside of work, perhaps in a volunteer capacity?
If that’s not going to adequately bridge the gap, could you add value in other ways, for example, through extensive experience in the industry or profession?
Get familiar with salary data too. This is important for knowing your value and the market before applying for a role.
- Could you ask a mentor?
Listing your own strengths and weaknesses can be challenging and may require soul-searching. Do you have a mentor or someone you respect who could dispense some wisdom? Consult friends and colleagues who know your career history as you contemplate your next step. Those who know you may also identify a dormant soft skill that you never considered before.
It also helps to get some objective third-party perspectives by talking with a specialist recruitment consultant who can inform you about the market, skillsets in demand and how you measure up against competition.
- Focus on your digital profile
The world of work is changing and the way that people are being found and placed in jobs is changing too. In fact, some of the best roles may never even be advertised. This is why you need to have your digital profile primed for success.
Thanks to social media like LinkedIn, it’s become easier than ever to network with industry leaders and to join professional associations.
Some online networks also host offline networking events that you can attend. From workshops to meetups, networking is a great chance to get your name out there and establish your profile. Often jobs are discussed through the grapevines before they make it onto job boards, so it’s important for you to stay connected.
Strengthen your digital profile by contributing to conversations in your field. With a good profile online, you may end up being approached or end up in talent pools where perfect jobs will come to you.
Whether you are actively job seeking or open to opportunities, there is nothing to lose and a lot to be gained by identifying what you want and positioning yourself for a role that may be your best career move yet.
1 Hudson Report Australia H1 2016