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Essential steps to keeping your career on track

Wolfgang Rottmann K G Ei Sgw H Wg E Unsplash

​Many of us take some well-earned time off at this time of year and escape the desk job for a week in the sun. While poolside enjoying a mai tai or two, we often review how the year has gone so far and take a moment to reflect on what is to come in the run up to year-end.

Often this period of reflection – exacerbated by the short, dark and cold Winter days - can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction and a higher number of people looking to change jobs.

Indeed, Quarter 3 is typically the most buoyant period during the year for job search activity and a time of heightened transitions fuelled by a marked increase in advertised vacancies.

I believe that there is no better time than post-hoilday and in the wake of a period away from the general hullaballoo of the office confines to strategise and effectively plan for the next steps in your career journey. Often we attempt to plan as such during the Christmas break and come back to the office all energised and armed with a set of ambitious New Year's resolutions, only to see these rapidly come to nothing as we earnestly get back into the swing of normality.

If you are managing your career according to a plan, you will have a defined set of SMART goals and objectives that help anchor your decisions. The most effective way to navigate this will be:

  • Review your current state – take a moment to honestly review your achievements against your stated goals and objectives. It is important to be extremely truthful in this regard and it also helps to seek independent input and feedback from your trusted network. This gap analysis activity will very seamlessly identify any gaps.

  • Develop a prioritised action plan to fix any identified gaps – once you have reconciled the gaps, review and prioritise these so that you can draw up a defined action plan for remediating these gaps.

  • Identify developmental opportunities aligned to your career aspirations – Research shows that the opportunity to learn a new skill has a positive impact on career satisfaction. Be on the lookout for internal on-the-job training opportunities, secondments to projects or other business units or formal external certified courses that you think will help to drive your career.

  • Execute and monitor your prioritised action plan – you must ensure a disciplined laser-focussed approach to executing your action plan. This will not be easy as you will be continually distracted and most probably will need assistance to keep true to your plan – do not be afraid to reach out to your trusted network as required. One of these actions may be to pursue other opportunities within your present firm or in other organisations – launching a well-thought out job search process in earnest.

I know many of us do undertake these actions as required but I have also heard from many in my network who struggle at this and do not know where to start. If you have just returned or are about to head away on holiday and would like any assistance with your career planning, I would be very happy to help.