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When it comes to achieving what you want in your career, there are so many things to consider.
Whether you are just starting your freelance journey or you’ve been employed by the same company for years, it’s helpful to plan the steps you need to take to move forward.
To continue to excel in today’s hyper-competitive job market and realize your full potential especially when it comes to your earnings, here’s a guide to help you.
What is Career Growth and why is it important?
If your goal is to earn 7 figures per year, you can’t reach it if you remain at an entry-level job. As a professional, you must raise your goals by bettering yourself in your chosen industry.
Career growth, also referred to as career advancement, is the process of progressing your career upwards. Climbing the corporate ladder can be the result of completing more training, or gaining experience.
The track to career growth involves transitioning from various related positions that have a greater responsibility or educational requirements.
A lot of companies offer career advancement opportunities that allow their employees to move up within the company through the years.
What is the difference between Career Growth & Career Development?
Career growth and career development are two terms that are always used interchangeably. However, the two are not the same.
Career growth is a process that is inspired by the goals you set to where you want to be in your job or chosen field. As years go by, you will take more prestigious positions.
On the other hand, career development is a process that improves aspects of your professional career and skills. When you go through this process, it means you are dedicated to making a change and improving yourself so you can become an expert in your field. This concept has a heavy emphasis on pushing your skills to become the best they can be.
Considering this definition, the two must be exercised in your life to get to a career level you want and ultimately, earn 7 figures per year.
What is a Career Plan and why do you need to make one?
Career planning is a strategy wherein professionals determine their career goals, as well as the path they need to take to achieve those goals. The process involves different activities that highlight self-assessment.
In many ways, career planning helps people create a roadmap for their professional life. But why is it so important?
It helps you choose your career
When you go through the process of career planning, you will identify your strengths, talents, and the industries and fields you excel in. Therefore, you can look for opportunities in this field. For example, if you are creative, media and advertising may be a good field for you.
It aids you to achieve financial stability
Planning your career involves taking into account unforeseen negative situations such as job loss. This enables you to mitigate the risks and uncertainties as much as you can.
It enables you to enjoy job safety
Just a couple of decades ago, a degree was dubbed as the most sought-after thing to get since it’s an entry point in the corporate world. However, a lot of MBA graduates today are stuck in an entry-level position that pays low.
In today’s job market, everyone wants to take a high-ranking position to earn more money. One of the benefits of career planning is it helps you choose your field wisely so you can enter with improved employment advancement potential.
It grants you peace of mind
Peace of mind is a lesser-known benefit of career planning. Unemployment can lead to stress, low self-esteem, and feelings of uncertainty, but if you take time to plan your career, you can easily monitor job trends and opportunities, as well as market demands and emerging technologies.
It broadens your skillset
When you carefully plan your career path, your skills will not remain stagnant. Instead, you will be forced to learn more in the pursuit of your professional development. This may mean getting more degrees or certifications or learning a new skill.
What are the Main Components of a Career Plan?
Before you start career planning, you first need to know its main components.
Planning your career is impossible if you don’t know yourself. Self-assessment is one of the most important components of a career plan because it serves as its foundation.
Here, you need to learn about your skill sets, developmental needs, values, personality, preferred working environment, and interest, among many others.
All this information will help you make a better decision regarding your career.
1. Research & Exploration
Another important component of career planning is research and exploration. After your self-assessment, you can list the types of careers you are interested in.
Look at the description of each position, as well as the salary, benefits, training and educational requirements, and market condition.
Then, narrow it down even further by researching the working environments in those fields. If possible, you can even reach out to professionals who are currently working in your fields of interest.
2. Short-listing your options
Now that you have made ample research, you can start shortlisting the career path options you can see yourself following.
For example, even though you think you can make a great TV anchor and it is a great match with your skill set and values, you may not want a job that requires you to be in the public eye.
3. Choosing the best option
This process involves selecting one career path among all the ones you have considered. Refer back to the things you found out in your self-assessment and look at them in conjunction with job offers to weigh your options better.
However, do not forget to have an alternative you can fall back on in case your preferred path doesn’t work.
4. Preparation and action
This is the final component in career planning. It involves making an action plan that will enable you to reach your goals.
Treat this step as a road map that will take you from being unemployed to choosing your first job, to achieving career stability.
Do not forget to create short-term and long-term milestones for your career plan. This involves identifying potential employers, creating a good resume, composing a good cover letter, identifying training and education requirements, and preparing for job interviews.
Step-by-Step Career Planning Guide
Ensuring your success in a constantly changing work environment requires careful planning. Before you find out the steps involved, you need to know that this is not just something you do once, and then leave behind.
As time goes by, you may need to tweak your career plan.
Step 1: Assess your self
Always start with yourself. When you plan your career growth strategy based on other people, you may end up hating your career. Here are the things you need to do to assess yourself better.
a. Write down your main field of interest
By now, you may already have fields in mind that pique your interest. For example, if you grew up in a family with police officers, you may be interested to follow that career path.
In the same way, if you discovered a love for photography in college, you may want to follow a career path that will lead you to shoot for multi-million campaigns for brands.
b. Identify your skills and abilities
Interest is not enough. You also need to have the skills to back up your chosen career path.
Test your abilities and strengths and try to see whether or not you can excel in your chosen industry.
If not, don’t worry. It may simply mean you need more training or education.
c. Values and ambitions
This step in self-assessment involves taking into consideration factors such as the salary you want, whether you prefer working from home or in the office, or how important prestige is to you.
d. Work style and motivators
Contrary to what many people think, career motivators are not synonymous with job titles. It involves the things that energize you when you think about your career.
For example, if you want to work for an NGO, you may be motivated by the idea of helping other people.
In the same way, work style is also another factor that makes your work fulfilling.
For instance, you can’t possibly remain happy in your work if it requires you to always work in a team setting when you prefer to work alone.
Step 2: Research professions and career paths that align with #1
Based on the things you found out during your self-assessment stage, explore the options that are in line with it, and gather information about those careers.
What are the career choices you have? What does each career path involve? Do you think there are other options you have not considered?
Step 3: Determine the qualifications required
After deciding the career path you are interested in taking, it’s time to do more research. Compile the characteristics, qualities, skills, and educational requirements needed to make career advancement easier.
For example, if you want to be a teacher, you may need to secure a doctoral degree to get promoted.
Step 4: Create a shortlist of your top career choices
By now, you already have your favorite list of careers that excite you. A shortlist is a collection of the careers you plan on taking.
Aim for at least 5 to 10 careers on this list. This may include careers that you have already thought about, those that you have limited knowledge about, or careers you may have not considered in the past.
These job opportunities meet all your values, skills, and other things you found out during your self-assessment.
Step 5: After weighing your options, decide on a specific career or profession
Now, it’s time to narrow down your shortlist even further. Decide on the careers you are most interested in. As much as you can, choose a career that matches your current qualifications.
If not, choose a career where you genuinely want to learn and build up requirements and qualifications over time. Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there is no shame to do extra training, education, or even learn part-time.
Step 6: Create a strong CV
One of the most integral things in career planning is to be ready to take any opportunity that presents itself.
Regardless of what career you chose, creating a strong CV that is up to date is a must.
A great CV must highlight your experience and skills. The goal of your CV is to convey that you can add value to a company.
Step 7: Look for jobs in your chosen career field
Now that you have made up your mind about your career path, it’s finally time to take action. Finding a new job may seem intimidating whether you are a first-timer or not.
However, there are tons of ways you can find a perfect job for yourself. Some of the techniques that can help you include:
- Asking your network for referrals
- Joining networking events
- Contacting companies directly
- Leveraging social media and career-centered groups
- Using job search platforms
Step 8: Stay updated on the current trends in your field
To make your journey to career advancement easier if you keep your finger on the pulse of industry trends. This will enable you to know where your industry is heading towards the future.
So how can you do this? Here are some techniques you can follow:
- Attend industry events
- Keep up to date with social media (follow publications, magazines in your field, etc)
- Listen to podcasts
Step 9: Strive for continuous learning and expertise (fix knowledge gaps)
The more value you can give to your company, the more likely you are to get promoted. Make a conscious effort to upskill so you can future-proof your career even further.
Even if you are already highly educated, your industry will still keep changing, and to keep up, you need to adapt. Thankfully, upskilling has now become more accessible.
For example, you can attend virtual courses, or look for a mentor.
Step 10: Expand your professional network
Whether you want to admit it or not, your network plays a crucial role in your success. However, this won’t come naturally.
If you are serious about following your career path, make an effort to form an established network. You can do this through the following:
- Researching networking events
- Attending conventions
- Joining professional organizations
- Using your alumni network
- Pursuing volunteer opportunities
Step 11: Utilize the S.M.A.R.T system to establish career goals
Where do you want to see yourself in three years? In five years? Or in ten years? What experiences and training will help you achieve your goal?
A big part of setting a career goal is deciding specific steps you need to reach where you want to be. To help you set your goals, use the SMART system.
S – specific
M – measurable
A – attainable
R – relevant
T – timely
List down your career goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. Then, set a deadline for yourself.
Step 12: Position yourself for leadership roles
The truth is, getting promoted is no walk in the park. Many companies in the country still follow a traditional hierarchy.
But regardless of whether you work for a company or you’re a freelancer, you need to show people that you have the capacity and skills to lead. So how can you do this?
First, consider your company culture. Then, adapt your leadership style accordingly. Instead of showing off what you know, participate and contribute to the common goals of your company.
When the opportunity presents itself, lead a project or a small team. Once more experienced managers see your potential, you will build trust.
As much as you can, be authentic and maintain confidence. To be able to position yourself as a leader, continuously seek connections.
Step 13: Regularly evaluate and review your career plan
Your first career plan may not be your last. Think of it as a work in progress. If you think you’re not as happy with your first plan, keep an open mind and re-assess.
Every year, look at your career plan and be honest with yourself. Maybe the field you imagined you would work in is not panning out as it should, or it’s not making you feel inspired.
Or maybe you’re simply missing key requirements or skills that are needed to move forward.
Career Path Examples in the Philippines
Associate -> Associate Manager -> Manager -> Senior Manager -> Vice President -> Senior VP -> Associate Managing Director -> Managing Director
Actuarial Intern -> Associate Actuarial Analyst -> Actuarial Analyst -> Senior Actuarial Analyst -> Actuarial Consultant -> Senior Actuarial Consultant -> Associate Director -> Director
Wealth Planning Manager -> Senior Wealth Planning Manager -> Assistant Branch Manager -> Branch Business Manager -> Business Director -> Franchise Head
Teaching aid -> Teacher -> Master Teacher -> Assistant Principal -> Principal
Intern -> Junior Software Developer -> Senior Software Developer -> Software Development Manager
Sales job -> Sales manager -> Marketing Staff -> Marketing Manager ->Vice President of Marketing -> Start Own Marketing Business
Paralegal -> Law Associate -> Partner at a Law Firm
10 Highly Effective Tips for Achieving Career Success
Everyone wants to be successful in their career. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to take the steps needed to achieve what they want.
Here are some specific things you can do to increase your likelihood of professional success.
1. Be Passionate about Your Career Choice & Have a Vision for Success
If you are passionate about your job, you will not get tired of constantly improving your skills and knowledge. More than that, you will not lose track of your growth mindset that will set you up for success.
2. Seize Opportunities that are Right Under Your Nose
Chances are, there are opportunities in your current position you are not taking advantage of.
A lot of transformational ideas can be developed by understanding what is currently not working in your organization, and being brave enough to solve these problems.
Do one thing each day, week, or month to move you forward.
3. Be Educated about What You Want to Pursue & Develop an Interest Survey
An interest survey involves questions about what you like and don’t like. Your answers are then matched to careers.
When you use this method, you are more likely to enjoy your job because it aligns with what you want.
4. Build Relationships with Peers & Leaders who have Career Success You Admire
You’ll be surprised at how much a mentor or a great leader can help you move forward and learn valuable information.
Always be respectful towards your colleagues and managers and when you find a leader you admire, do not be afraid to reach out.
5. Prepare Yourself Mentally so That You’re Ready to Take on the Challenges that Come Along
Working is not just about pushing yourself to be the best you can be until you reach your limit. It’s also about taking care of your mental health so you can be more equipped to handle stress.
It involves knowing relaxation exercises, ensuring you are not sleep-deprived, and taking care of your body.
6. Utilize Time Wisely by Managing Interruptions and Setting up Systems that Help
No matter how challenging your job is today, know that it will get easier. In time, you will find out the best techniques, strategies, and systems that will help you work more efficiently and manage your time well.
7. Identify Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Skills & Competencies
The importance of self-assessment in your career growth cannot be emphasized enough.
When you are familiar with your capabilities and weaknesses, you will know the gaps you need to fill. This way, you can be a more well-rounded professional.
8. Find Ways to Expand Your Skills and Network
Your network can play a significant role in your professional success.
As much as you can, leverage ways to broaden your network and actively seek out mentors. This will open up new doors for opportunities.
9. Learn from Others Who Have Been There Before & Are Doing Well Now
Learning from other people is a simple way to improve yourself so next time you talk to a manager or sit in a meeting, use your observation skills, and ask questions whenever possible.
Being curious can expand your knowledge.
10. Keep Learning!
When it comes to your career, learning never ends even when you’re already on top. By learning new skills and brushing up on old ones, you can be more equipped to face challenges.