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Planning Your Career Are you playing checkers or chess? By Sabrina-Yvette d’Almeida Take a minute to think about your career and ask yourself one question. Are you playing checkers or are you playing chess? In checkers, you’re in the moment playing move by move. Your goal is to one up or maybe even double up in the single instance. Chess is a game that you play with the end in mind. It’s a game of strategy. Every move is taken with the next three in mind. You’re not concerned with winning every move. Every move is intentionally taken with winning in mind. Just like at work, where every move you make should be with the end game (promotion, recognition, new assignments) in mind. It’s the same with your career. You can play checkers, living move by move. No real plan or strategy but to win each solitary encounter. You won the email ping pong by having the last word. You showed so and so that they can’t do that to you. You’re living each day to one up the other person. Or you can play chess. Where your moves are strategic and while not easy are still taken with an end goal in mind. You can have the courage to confront. You can be respectful in the face of perceived disrespect. You can do things that aren’t your job because they are the right thing to do. You can align your everyday actions with your end goal. You can develop the ability to articulate your career goals and aspirations to anyone at anytime and your everyday actions match those goals. Playing chess with your career is as simple as following the ABC’s. Always Be Career Planning Your career plan is your strategy for knowing what you want and how you are going to get it. It’s a road map that dictates how you respond in every professional setting situation. Your end game is your career plan. Your plan for the future must influence the strategic choices you make now. It helps you create a roadmap of consistent actions and behaviors that help you build the evidence you need to demonstrate you are ready for success. That success may be things like; a stretch assignment, leadership of a project and task, promotion and increased salary. Success comes in all forms and fashions. Accept that it takes many small successes to reap the greater financial rewards. So what is a career plan? It’s the task of identifying moves that you need to make to accomplish your goals. Self reflection and selfawareness is a critical skill to successfully implementing a career plan. The act of setting aside time for career planning is your first step in self-reflection and self-awareness and developing your career plan. A simple career plan might be to write out the “Then-Now- Next” approach. Start by listing the knowledge and skills that have gotten you to your current state. List your skills, professional areas of expertise, any degrees, licenses, or certifications you hold. It’s important to be able to articulate your skills and values. Really spend some time thinking about the unique skills you have developed over the years that can be applied across a wide variety of industries. Things like customer service skills, relationship building, leadership experience (whether of people, projects or tasks) and expertise in software like Excel, Photoshop or PeopleSoft. Then create a section for the “now”. Create an outline for a conversation with your manager to determine if they believe you are fully competent in your current role. Be prepared, your boss may have a different view of you then you have of yourself. Your boss will be able to help you identify needed “now tasks” that should be mastered before taking action in the next step of your career plan. Do not get discouraged. Consider yourself lucky that your boss is giving you the honest feedback needed for you to drive your career. Implement any opportunities you have to grow where you are “now”. Begin by working on any tasks or skills your boss identifies for you. If your boss believes you are fully competent then partner with them to identify opportunities to develop in your current role (assignments, being mentored, leading a task or project outside your current area f responsibility). Once you have identified and implemented any actions that can be completed where you are now, you are ready to start planning for the next stage. The “next” stage in your career plan is where you identify your long term goals and identify what skills you will need in your ‘next’ role. This is where you begin to do research on the skills needed to be a supervisor, manager, task leader, senior, entrepreneur, or whatever your professional aspirations may be. Review job descriptions and become familiar with the needed skills, software, and educational requirements for your “next” role. Take that job description and look at it side by side with your resume. Do you have everything you need for the “next” role? Can you articulate examples of how you have already had experience with the tasks associate with this role? You may need to be creative here. You may not have managed others but have you managed cross divisional tasks? If you identify any skill gaps add these items to your “now” area and determine how you can create an opportunities where you are “now’ to build or strengthen in the area where you have a skill gap. Shouldn’t you plan your career with that same level of strategy? PE Sabrina-Yvette d’Almeida is a Corporate Trainer with ICMA-RC Call 2029626917 Email sdameida@icmarc.org Personal Excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 06.2014 24


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