Career planning: start with yourself or start with the market?
Me being 25 years in recruitment has, without a doubt, led me to job conditioning and I cannot stop reading about career development. And there is so much about this topic on the internet! Recently there was this posting that states that, with the economy being strong as it is, this is the time for a transfer. What the title did not mention is that it is written from a salary raise perspective. So great, if that is what you are looking for. But did you ever do a long term career planning?
For a lot of us a career, or even life, just happens to us. We go to school and university, often based upon input from parents and teachers. We like a professor, choose a major, do an internship and before you know it, a career, mortgage, partner, kids and car are in place. Most of the times these are great developments. But what if the wrong turn is made? Or what would have happened if we would have put more time in planning the future? Too much for one blog but let me describe two low threshold approaches.
The first approach starts with you. Our environment has a huge impact on important life choices. Reputation, salary level, opinions of parents/neighbours/spouses are all considered but not necessary connected to what drives you. Following your drivers leads to stable careers and more important, a happy life. There are several ways to find them, not all of are able to put the aforementioned external influencers in offside position. My advice: remember why the good days are good and the bad ones bad. And write down why they are. Perhaps you will find out what tasks you like best, what company culture does not work for you, what a high salary means for you and also how important spending time with your family is. This is not the scientific approach but it will help you find out if that company car is the proper reason to step into that new job. Or perhaps you find out that you do not want to be a banker but a teacher because you enjoy helping people reaching their next level.
The second approach starts with the labour market. Designing a position that does not exist might be ineffective. I used to have a big box with newspaper clippings, all job advertisements, under my desk. Every now and then I would browse through them and tried to find the patterns. Luckily they were there: industry types, location, specific tasks or companies. All put together they showed me what might work for me. Talking about them with family or other recruiters helped me find out if I was realistic and if they recognized the same patterns I did. Of course nowadays you will browse the internet and copy-paste the right advertisements.
To sum it up, for your consideration: ponder upon the direction of your career (or even life). Analyse your good & bad days and your job ad clippings. Then decide if your are still on track. Don’t do it too often, only Christmas or vacation, otherwise you will get labour market-paranoid.
Call me if you think I can help, good luck,
Pieter de Kiewit