Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Do you have a career plan? If you’re like most people, then probably not. Ask the well-worn interview question, ‘where do you see yourself in five years time?’ and most people won’t have an answer.
Create the circumstances you want
Taking control of your destiny through proactive career planning means you’re in control. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” Developing a smart personal marketing strategy means doing exactly this. You don’t have to wait for the axe to fall, or put up with a job you hate. You can change things for the better. You spend so many of your waking hours at work, and your career impacts on every part of your life, don’t you deserve to be happy and fulfilled in your job?
Draw up a wish list
Begin with a blank page. On one side write down a ‘wish list’ describing your ideal job and circumstances. This might include everything from salary to preferred location, maximum length of commute and which market sector or industry type you’d like to work in. On the other side of the page, write down what you need to do to achieve this. If you want to change careers, will you need to retrain or gain additional qualifications? If you want to relocate, will you need to move house? Next, write down the steps involved in making each thing happen. Try to be specific. What qualifications will you need to take? Where are the jobs you want? Which companies or organisations offer that kind of work? Now, you can start to develop your own personal marketing strategy. What steps do you need to take to get from say, marketing assistant in Bermondsey to advertising account executive in Bath? Breaking down your wants and needs and committing a plan to paper can help you to focus on what you need to do to make changes.
Create the marketing package
List your key skills and how these are relevant to your target job. Get your CV up to date, highlighting your experience and achievements in relation to your target job. Conduct your own skills audit: what are your strengths and weaknesses? What can you do to improve your skill set? Where can you get that experience?
Develop an action plan
So, you’ve drawn the big picture. Now, the details. Develop your own personal marketing campaign. Treat this as you would a business plan: research the market; analyse and evaluate the options; create an action plan with measurable objectives and a timescale. Explore each of the four main job searching channels (advertised vacancies, recruitment agencies / headhunters, companies and networks) and draw up an action plan to tackle each. Think radically about how you can effect change. If your plan involves moving to a completely new sector, can you do this in stages, perhaps by taking on some voluntary work in your chosen field to find out more and develop your experience?
1. Consider all the options; don’t be restricted by what you know: give yourself the chance to explore new opportunities
2. Enlist the help of a career coach to help you identify options, exploit resources and develop a personal marketing strategy and action plan
3. Think laterally about how you can achieve your career goals
4. Take small steps; you don’t have to change everything overnight – but do give yourself timeframes to make sure you get on with it!
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