Looking to Stay Ahead of the Competition?
Everyone has a unique mix of challenges throughout their career. What path should I take? What positions are best suited for me? What positions will keep me happy? Am I too old or too young? Why are some people so difficult to work for?
“One thing is for sure, you have to stay competitive if you want to stay employed and more so, if you want to advance.”
Over the last 4 or 5 years, candidates who become unemployed tend to stay employed, not necessarily through any fault of their own. Employers subconsciously believe that those who stayed employed are the better employees and most of know this is not necessarily true. So now more than ever it’s extremely important to develop a plan to keep you in the game.
Most of us have wondered how we got to where we are in our professional careers. For most people it just happens, good or bad, and usually we end up some place we didn’t want to go. For the few that performed a career assessment, they most likely ended up right where they wanted to be.
The Purpose of a Career Development Plan
In order to stay ahead of the competition, you need a strategic plan that not only outlines your path but also outlines how you will keep your skills sharp and use your strengths and weaknesses to your advantage. Yes, we said weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses, so knowing what they are and how to minimize them is the first step to standing out in a crowd.
- Identify who you are and what your unique value is.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses
- A career development plan will force you to identify, monitor, and achieve your goals.
- Set timelines for these goals.
- Set the stage for personal branding.
- Develop a “sharpen the saw” approach to minimizing weaknesses, maximizing strengths, and improving hard skills
THE SUCCESS LADDER:
The Plan Starts with Understanding You: The Career Assessment Test
Before you can effectively portray “You”, you need to understand who you are. How you behave when calm or under stress; How you like to receive and give information; How you like to communicate; Are you a forest or tree person; What motivates you to get out of bed; How you see the world around you; How you see yourself; What your strengths and weaknesses are, and the list goes on. The career assessment test is a comprehensive approach to helping you learn more about you and others around you.
This will likely be the hardest step for most. It can be quite uncomfortable taking an objective look at one’s self. Everyone has some fear of what they might find but it is of utmost importance that you be truthful with yourself in this phase otherwise everything else that follows will be built on a shaky foundation.
More importantly, in order to effectively communicate with your current boss or future employer, you need to understand yourself to effectively communicate with them. They too have a unique set of traits and preferences, and once you understand yourself it will be quite easy to understand them.
Identify Your Best Options and Potential Career Paths
This is where the fun begins. After you have recovered from the self-assessment phase you now can begin to choose career paths that intrinsically motivate you and best utilize your strengths. Think of it this way; what would you like to do if money wasn’t a factor? You’ve heard this before but it really sets the stage for keeping you in the zone and happy. Nothing is off the table at this point. Remember most professionals are doing jobs that give them little or no satisfaction, they are simply just jobs that they fell into.
Remember: “Hope is not a plan!”
Develop the Action Plan
Once you decide what you would like to do and where you would like to go, the next step is to develop your action plan. Of course an action plan has your goals and timelines for those goals. To keep you focused on creating an accurate plan remember be “SMART”; Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Bound.
Sharpen The Saw!
This is actually an important part of your action plan, so important that we felt it needed its own airplay. Here you need to compare your personal attributes against those required for the positions you seek. The result of this will produce a gap report that identifies your strengths and weaknesses for each position. You will likely find you are lacking certain hard and/or soft skills. Some hard skills are relatively easy to attain while others, like “x years of experience” may be a bit tougher to acquire and specific planning will be required to achieve these.
Soft skills gap on the other hand are a result of your personality and can be coached to once you fully understand yourself. This is not to say these gaps or weaknesses can be completely eliminated because generally they can’t, however recognition of these gaps goes a long way to minimizing these liabilities. If you find there are certain things you are not willing to do or deal with, then you will need to adjust your career development plan accordingly.
The Plan Comes Together with Personal Branding
Once you understand “You” you can begin to brand yourself. So you’re asking what in the world is personal branding? Well simply put, it’s your unique value proposition, it’s your persona, it’s your marketing plan, all rolled into one tidy package. The objective of your personal brand is to be noticed, attractive, and relevant.
The key here is to tie it all together and land that ideal job.
Whether you’re unemployed or looking to move up in your existing organization, career development and personal branding are key.
Products for career development: