4 Steps to Help you Plan your Career

Planning should be an integral part of any professional and aspiring professional’s career strategy, but for many of us, it’s something we don’t pay much attention to.

With the average worker expected to clock up six different jobs throughout his or her lifetime, it makes sense to spend time thinking about the direction you’re headed in and how you’re going to get there. A career strategy can not only help you identify your ideal job progression, but it can also map out the steps, skills and knowledge you need in order to achieve your goals. We’ve put together a guide to help you get started.

Identify your strengths, weaknesses and marketable skills and attributes
Self-assessment is essential for anyone planning out their career path, regardless of whether you’re a student about to enter the workforce or a professional considering a change of path. Think about your key knowledge areas, training, skills and strengths, and how these could be applied to a meaningful and valuable career.

An innate knowledge of your own strengths and areas of expertise can not only help you identify what roles you’d be best suited to, but can also give you the confidence to sell yourself in future job interviews. Take note of whether skills are transferrable or specialised and how you could describe them to future employers to highlight the fact that you are adaptable. Consider how you could frame your weaknesses as potential sources of learning, or even better, start working on minimising these weaknesses altogether.

At this stage you should also think hard about what you want to get out of a career and what’s really important to you. For the majority of people, work-life balance takes top priority, according to a 2015 Global Workforce Insights paper released by CEB. Stability.  Career opportunities and location are also popular considerations when job-hunting. Compensation, benefits, professional development and work environment may also play a factor in what kind of role you take on next.

Discover job areas
The next stage of the job search involves exploring job areas, paths and professions that interest you. If you’ve got an industry in mind, do some research to find out more about typical remuneration and ease of entry into the field. Scan recruitment and resourcing sites and take note of jobs that interest you, then evaluate what it is that makes them so exciting. Perhaps the key theme in your favoured roles is the ability to work autonomously, or maybe you’re drawn to positions that involve juggling multiple projects at once.

Ask yourself which of your skills and attributes match your preferred occupation(s), and try to identify and minimize any gaps. If there are serious elements missing - for example, you want to become a Project Manager, but don’t currently have lead experience or budget experience, or you want to manage trials at a CRO but don’t have an equivalent degree - you may wish to realign your job search to better suit your skills, or develop new skills and education in order to achieve your dream role (see ‘Upskill and take action’ below).

Identify your goals and map your career
When you’re identifying your next ideal job, take the time to map out how this could develop as you progress in your career. Look at sideways and upwards moves you can make within this industry - for example, moving from a CRA to a SCRA or going from Clinical Data Coordinator to Clinical Data Lead - and plan out how and when you could progress to these next stages. Read articles on how people have taken similar steps in the past, speak to recruiters and industry insiders on progression timeframes and, above all, write down your specific goals. Research shows that people who write their goals down have a significantly greater likelihood of achieving them when compared to goal-setters who don’t document their dreams.

Your career goal sheet should include timelines, skills you want to acquire and roles you want to progress to. It could also factor in salary, location and any other factors that are important to you in a role. Break goals into achievable, realistic mini-goals to help give you a sense of accomplishment as you achieve them, and make regular revisions to ensure you’re on track.

Upskill and take action
Now that you have your goals written down and a career in sight, it’s time to take action. Prepare your resume and cover letter, brush up on your interview skills and make as many relevant industry connections as possible to help open doors for your future career. DOCS’ own career advice will be useful here, and it’s a great time to focus on upskilling and developing any key areas you know you’ll need for your dream job. Take courses, study new research, attend public speaking classes, sharpen your analytical skills - whatever it is that will give you an edge in securing your new role.

If you’re ready to explore your full career potential, take a look at the range of roles available through DOCS and book a time to speak to one of our Recruitment Consultants today!