Map Your Career Ambitions
Do you find there are a lack of formal development opportunities at your organization? You’re not alone. 40% of organizations admit they rarely or never provide career planning or development and 46% of employees don’t think their leadership skills are being developed. Research tells us professional development and career growth opportunities are crucial to employees. In fact, 76% of employees are looking for career growth opportunities and 87% of millennials stated that professional development and career growth are very important. When your organization doesn’t provide a clear career development path, you can create a professional development plan to map your career ambitions.
Own Your Career Plan
We know because of the continuous change organizations are experiencing, the average life cycle of an employee skill is growing shorter. 64% of managers say they don’t think their own employees will be able to keep pace with skills needed in the future and only 20% of employees have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career according to Gartner Inc. data. But employees want to be developed, and they want a clear professional development plan. As employees, you can proactively plan your career path, develop those sought-after future skills, and be better prepared to navigate unpredictable changes in your professional and personal environment.
As employees, we enjoy learning new skills and accomplishing new challenges. Seeing a clear career path is engaging for many individuals who strive to reach their goals. According to a Globoforce study, one of the three factors driving employee engagement is a strong emphasis on employee development. Employees who have the opportunity to learn new skills regularly report higher levels of happiness and wellbeing. Individuals who aspire to be leaders will especially benefit from mapping a clear career path.
If your organization isn’t providing a formal career map or development plan for you, take ownership and create your own. You may find it helpful to start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are some of your strengths at work?
- What are some areas at work you could improve?
- What tasks do you like completing at work and which ones do you dread?
- Would you like to be promoted at your current company, move to another organization, or make a career change altogether? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
- What do you want to get out of your career?
- What opportunities are available to you currently that could improve your skill set?
- Do your current responsibilities align to your future goals for your profession, or is there a gap you need to fill with development?
- What actions do you need to take to achieve your career goals?
Seek out opportunities to speak with experts who align to your career goals. Whether you plan to stay in the same career, or make a change, speaking with individuals can contribute valuable insight for your professional development plan. Interview individuals in your current organization and professionals in an industry outside of your organization. You can meet those outside of your organization at industry networking events or seek them out on social media to establish a connection. Seeking a mentor during this time can assist with honest feedback about your goals.
Based on your answers to the questions above and the information you collected from experts in your industry, you might notice gaps between your current skill set or responsibilities and where you want your career to go. That gap is an opportunity for improvement. You can use a professional development plan template to outline how to make those improvements. Focus on making improvements in just 1 or 2 areas at a time.
Share this career development plan with your leader. Ask how they are able to support your goals or provide you with experiences to grow your skills. When your leader understands your ambitions, they are better able to assist in taking your career to the next level.
5 Steps to Mapping Your Career
Analyze Your Skills
Identify the Destination
- Take an honest look at your career goals
- Identify small destinations on the way to the grand destination
- Interview industry experts
- Search job outlooks and job descriptions
- Gather as much data as possible to conduct a gap analysis between your current skills and your destination
Create A Professional Development Plan
- Use your skills, future destination, and the research you’ve gathered to develop SMART goals to close the gaps you discovered in the last 3 steps
- Identify specific experience opportunities to grow your skills
- Break down goals into 90 day plans
- Consider finding a mentor to support your development and provide you with honest feedback
Share with Your Leader
- Communicate your professional development plan with your leader
- Ask for opportunities to close the gaps you’ve identified in your skills
- Ask for their input and feedback