11 Tips for Career Planning at Any Age or Career Stage

By Margaret Buj | May 21, 2020
Margaret Buj | ACHNET

Career planning is not something that you do once and then forget. Considering that research has found that the average worker will change careers – not jobs but careers – five to seven times in their lifetime, career planning is an activity you should do at least once a year.

Succeeding in a constantly changing workplace requires a career management plan. Employers always want to attract, hire, and retain employees who provide the best value. Think about yourself as a business with a product to sell and create a strategy for marketing your value in the workplace.

Here are 11 steps you can take right now to develop a career plan that will get you where you want to be professionally:

1. Keep an up-to-date resume

One of the most important steps in planning for the future of your career is to be ready to pounce when opportunities present themselves. Regardless of your industry or career level, learning how to write a resume and keeping it up to date is a terrific annual exercise.

LiveCareer’s selection of resume templates can provide inspiration for writing a new resume. Or, if you need help, our professional resume builder can help you create a well-written resume in a matter of minutes.

2. Make career planning a regular event

Find a day or weekend at least once a year and schedule time to truly focus on what you want out of your career. For me, the best time to do this is at the end of December, as we’re approaching the new year.

3. Reflect on your career path since your last career planning session

Research shows reflection increases productivity and performance, so take time to think about your current situation and the path you want to follow. Are you happy with your career path so far? What could you have done better or differently? What can you change in the future? When you understand yourself and what you really want, it’s a lot easier to create a plan that suits your goals and your lifestyle.

You can continue to experience career growth by investing in your career development – e.g., you can talk to your manager about job shadowing other employees in your company to learn about different jobs, or you can attend various training sessions and workshops. You can explore lateral moves to broaden your experience or find a mentor in a different department that you’d like to explore.

4. Reflect on what you like, dislike, need, and want from work

Our likes and dislikes change over time, so it’s always a good idea to reflect on what you feel strongly about in your life and career. Make a list of what you like and dislike about your job. Hopefully you still enjoy a lot of your work activities, but if that’s not the case, it might be time to start considering a new job or career.

It’s also important to have a clear and meaningful purpose that you find emotionally engaging. What do you really need from your work? To make a difference? To become financially independent?

5. Keep a record of your achievements

Most of us don’t keep a track record of work achievements; however, this is not only useful for building your resume, it’s also useful for career planning. Learning to track and write about your professional accomplishments will serve you well when working toward your next career goal.

6. Identify your transferable skills

Maybe your job title is Business Analyst but you have a huge amount of project management experience – skills that could be applied to other jobs. Think beyond your current job title by considering your goals and how the skills you have now would be useful