Answer Just Four Questions to Build Your Career Plan


Long-Term Career Plan

I attended the SHRM-Atlanta August 2015 meeting where Meredith Soree, Vice President Human Resources in the Newell Transformation Office, spoke about four questions you should ask yourself as you develop your personal long-term career plan.

I found her presentation to be in line with many of the principles I promote when coaching people looking to expand their careers and build a career plan. This prompted me, during the question and answer period after her talk, to ask her opinion on the value of using a certified professional coach. I was pleased to hear her advocate for the profession.

This post does not list all of the components from the original presentation; it is however my high-level recap of what I deem to be the salient points. The presentation covered four questions which when answered will set you well on your way towards building your career plan:

  1. Who am I?
    As with any quest for personal improvement, the first action is to conduct a self-assessment. Meredith suggests analyzing your values in addition to the things that bring you job satisfaction and fulfillment. A component of this assessment is to have a strong understanding of your personality. In discovering this, you should specifically ascertain how you make decisions; with the last aspect being your determination of whether or not you are actually ready to take a new approach to your career.I add to the list the importance of knowing and understanding what motivates you, your strengths and how to use those strengths as well as your weaknesses – which Meredith refers to as your blind spots. In my opinion, the use of assessment tools such as Myers-Briggs, DISC, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, and my personal favorite – StrengthsFinder 2.0, help you conduct scientifically valid self-assessments that can be used by third parties to help you understand your tailored results and aid in creating your career plan.
  1. Where am I going?
    The significance of examining the assumptions framing your thought process is a vital step in determining what actions you need to take to map out your career plan. Researching career options that align with your earlier assessment and articulate your career vision are necessary steps in planning the interim roles you seek as you grow into your ultimate position.
  1. How am I going to get there?
    Your professional reputation is of utmost importance which is best executed through the development of your personal brand. Also seek to identify a set of supportive and useful contacts to form your personal board of directors to provide guidance in your career development and aspirations.Liz Strauss shared Six Steps to a Remarkably Powerful, Personal Network, three of which I reference in answering the question of how you get there.
  • You must first “know what you know” and its value. We must differentiate ourselves from others. In recognizing your specific skill set you are able to maximize your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  • Second, select people to be in your network you would bet your reputation on —people who share your standards and have similar goals.
  • Finally, not only is it about who knows what you know, but who also knows your skills. You have to be able to explain your expertise easily to people who have influence. As it goes, influencers get asked for recommendations, so if they know your skills, then they can refer you.
  1. How will I stay on track?
    Your career plan should be based on S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely) development activities. Meredith recommends that you use your calendar and implement a tracking system for managing your progress.Habit Three (3) of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, advises that you put first things first and adhere to the disciplines of self-leadership and self-management. He states that leadership is the task of deciding what the “first things” are, whereas management is the discipline of carrying out the plan. Once you have a grasp on both principles, you will surely be on your way to redesigning your career plan.I personally cannot over-stress the use of a roadmap as referenced in my Roadmap to Upgrade: You 2.0 blog post to manage your progress towards creating your career plan and achieving your career goals.

Do you have the answers to the four questions? Do you need support creating your career plan or simply staying on track for the plan you’ve created? Contact Coach Clinton to create a tailor made coaching plan to assist you in creating your brand and growing your career.

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