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The secret to career success? Planning

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

If anyone tries to tell you they stumbled into stature and a comfortable salary by accident, they’re either incredibly lucky or they aren’t being totally truthful.

In all honesty, it’s unlikely you will fall into your dream job just by wishing for it: a successful career is born from careful planning and unwavering commitment.

Naturally, your path will be subject to a number of twists and turns resulting from external events: changes in family life, economic pressures or unforeseen circumstances at your company. These occurrences all have the potential to throw a proverbial spanner in the works of a smooth career trajectory - but don’t fret. You can’t control what happens around you or how these events impact your journey.

You can, however, significantly increase your chances of success by putting a plan in place and actively managing your career. That way, you’ll always have an anchor with which to steer your professional life. If you aren’t sure on where to start, the following tips should set you on the right path.

Take stock

Before you begin planning ahead, take some time to consider your current position. What skills have you acquired so far? Which experiences did you enjoy? What are your strengths and which areas do you hope to improve? Doing this initial groundwork will help you get to know yourself and build a clearer picture of your perfect position and the journey ahead. Often, determining what you don’t want from your career can be incredibly useful in steering you away from roles that don’t suit your skills.

Think big

Never let present circumstances predict your future: there is always more room to grow, to learn and to develop. Your end goal needn’t be quashed by organisational structures or current qualifications, so don’t place limitations on your career before it’s even kicked off. Becoming a manager could well be one of the many steps in your rise to success, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Of course, there are those who will tell you to be realistic: however, these people tend to be telling themselves the same thing, restricting their dreams to instead aim for easily attainable goals.

Set milestones

Whether you’re looking to lead a business, bring a new product to market or inspire behavioural change in an organisation, there will undoubtedly be certain steps you must take in order to realise your ultimate goal. Everyone’s journey is different, but most career plans will revolve around an individual gaining the skills and experience necessary to reach their target. For some, it might mean climbing the ranks of the corporate ladder or gaining further qualifications. For others, it could mean starting your own business. Whatever your milestones may be, make a note of them: by committing to paper what you want and how you are going to do it, you’re more likely to follow up on the plans you’ve made.

Be patient!

Rome wasn’t built in a day: your professional success won’t be, either. If it’s been a year and you haven’t reached your end goal, don’t be downhearted. This is by no means a get-rich-quick scheme - in fact, quite the opposite. Your career plan could take your lifetime to achieve and complete, but keep in mind that there is little value in shooting for quick wins at the expense of a bigger achievement. Rising to the top of your game requires professional patience, so don’t give up at the first hurdle. Your future-self will thank you, I can promise you that.

For 20 years, the Allen Associates team has been helping employers in Oxfordshire secure the talent they really need. Can we help you? Click here for more information.

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