Career Planning

Career Planning starts with a Life Plan

Dan Miller, a life coach who wrote 48 Days to the Work You Love says you should first plan what kind of life you want then plan your career.

We plan for weddings, vacations, and our course schedules so we can graduate on time. How many of us make a life plan?

Michael Hyatt suggests in his e-book Creating your Personal Life Plan that a life plan starts with listing the most important constituents in your life. (God, a significant other, parents, children, friends, co-workers, etc.)

What do you hope each constituent says about you at the end of your life?

In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, he says successful people begin with the end in mind. So start by considering the end of your life as you make a strong plan for your life.

The outcomes you are striving for should drive the priorities you set.

Next, list your priorities in the order of their importance to you. (Things like your relationship with God, your relationship with a significant other, achieving a particular performance level in your job, the pursuit of a degree, having a healthy diet/exercise regiment, having healthy finances, supporting a favorite charity, mission, or non-profit, etc.)

Your priorities should drive your action steps.

CONSTITUENTS | OUTCOMES | PRIORITIES | ACTION STEPS

Hyatt recommends setting one day a year aside to review your life plan: New Year’s Day, the last day of the year, your birthday or another meaningful day. You can also read it for affirmation (and to stay on point) every Sunday or on the first day of every month – however often it helps you, personally.

If you’ve never written out a life plan, it’s a great place to start as you begin planning your career.

Purpose Statements

It’s also good to write out a personal mission and/or purpose statement. An organization’s mission is WHAT they do and FOR WHOM they do it. An organization’s purpose, however, is its WHY. It is the fundamental reason you exist.

Listen to this TED Talk, “A life of purpose” by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life. He asks a great question in reference to a question God asked Moses: What’s in your hand?

It is clarifying and empowering to write a personal mission statement. You may be asked to provide one during the job search process or when you apply to graduate school.

Vince Gotera at the University of Northern Iowa, in his article How to Write a Great Statement of Purpose, has some good advice on these kinds of essays. He says:

“Tell stories (briefly). Use vivid language. Be specific. Be dynamic. Liven up a moment in the lives of those five professors trapped with those 500 applications…

At the same time, be careful not to be glib. Don’t be slick.”

Here’s an example:

“A former student applying to enter a master’s program in library science had a great hook. The opening paragraph of her statement of purpose went something like this:

When I was eleven, my great-aunt Gretchen passed away and left me something that changed my life: a library of about five thousand books. Some of my best days were spent arranging and reading her books. Since then, I have wanted to be a librarian.

It’s clear, it’s direct, it’s 45 words, and, most important, it tells the admissions committee about Susan’s almost life-long passion not just for books but for taking care of books.

Suppose Susan had written this opening paragraph:

I am honored to apply for the Master of Library Science program at the University of Okoboji because as long as I can remember I have had a love affair with books. Since I was eleven I have known I wanted to be a librarian.

That’s 45 words too. Do you think the admissions committee would remember this one?”

Ecclesiastes 5:19 says when men can be happy in their work, it’s a gift from God. The more you understand yourself and how to build strong interpersonal relationships, the more happy you’re likely to be in your work…and the more likely you are to view it as a gift.

Today’s Employers want Soft Skills

In this article by Margaret Andrews, What skills do employers want most?, you’ll see that today’s employers are begging for job candidates with soft skills like those mentioned in this website.

The following two articles also highlight these skills:

How do you score on employers’ top five desired skills? (CNBC)

Skills employers want (Binghamtom University Career Development Center)

Soft skills include written and oral communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively, and leadership. A strong work ethic is also high on the list.

In today’s work environment, a key to being successful as you plan your career is to strengthen your soft skills.

As to career plans…

There are three facets to a successful job search: knowing the market, knowing the process, and knowing yourself.

Knowing yourself is the most important. So before you begin the job search process, it’s a smart strategy to spend some time getting things in order. Take assessments, work on your resume, your purpose statement, your elevator pitch.

Get to know the process, the strategies. Get job search documents in order. Go to career fairs. Build your brand. Start building your professional wardrobe.

To stay abreast of the market, scan job postings (for the next job you want, and the ones you want into the future), and conduct informational interviews. These are where you ask to buy someone coffee so that you can learn more about their company or industry.

Virtually all of the course content on this website is designed to help you get to know yourself, the process of a successful job search, or the market.

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