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How to Plan a Successful Career

June 13, 2014

Cleofe Maceda Senior Reporter, Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

Landing a dream job takes planning (file photo)  

Landing a dream job takes planning (file photo)

Hundreds of applicants, both professionals and fresh graduates, land a new job every year. However, only very few make it to the top and bag the career of their dreams. Getting stuck in roles they are not happy with because there are no opportunities outside their current work is a source of frustration for many professionals.

The feeling of being stagnant in one place is never fun. But if there's one thing career-seekers must realise and learn to accept, it's that success is planned and never if not rarely accidental. No attractive job offer lands into anyone's lap out of the blue.

Human resources (HR) specialists said anyone with an ambition to make it big can't just drift along their career. They need to create a plan to get to where they want to be. "In most cases, the successful person has spent time and effort to create the success he or she craves even if they're not consciously aware of doing so," said Layla Halabi, partner at Learnactive.

Gaj Ravichandra, co-founder and managing partner at Kompass, said complacency in the workplace is now less accepted. With competition getting stiff and businesses constantly focusing on profits, it is becoming more important for professionals to take charge of their career.

"Whereas in the past, many people may have survived with a reactive or passive approach to employment, now due to competition and a constant focus on profit, complacency in the workplace is less tolerated," he said.

"Being able to plan your career has become increasingly important as it gives the employee more control and focus on where the employment journey is going. This proactivity is a preferred approach rather than being passive and waiting for the organisation to dictate your career."

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when mapping out your career:

Set your goals

It is important for professionals to be clear about their goals and set a time frame. "The key is to start with the end in mind," said Halabi.

"Where do you want to be in ten or even 20 years' time? Head of a function? Head of a company? Business owner? Identify the position you want and profile it. What experience and qualifications do people in that position have? What companies would they have typically work in? What skills and abilities do they have?"

Evaluate yourself

Whether you want to become a CEO or head of a team, you need to come up with an action plan to bag your dream job. But In order for you to decide what to do, you need to first examine your strengths and weaknesses and take a look at which areas you should be working on. Do you have what it takes to become the next director, manager or entrepreneur?

"Evaluate yourself against [your ideal role] and identify your development areas. Focus not just on the technical qualifications but also on the transferable skills," said Halabi.

"Transferable skills are those that you carry with you everywhere. Things like analytical skills, problem solving, decision making, communication and influencing skills are among the most commonly identified skills for leaders and successful professionals."

Halabi said it is important to be honest and critical when evaluating your competence. "After all, there is no such person as too good a decision maker. The better you are, the better your chances of success."

Invest in training

Nobody becomes a master of their own craft overnight. It takes time to develop skills and competencies. After a careful self-review, you'll probably come to a realisation that there are certain skills you need to develop first before applying for the desired position.

Since further training can be very costly, it is a good idea to explore employee development opportunities within the organisation.

"If your company invests in employee training, sign up for programmes that help address your development needs and while in there, focus on learning," said Halabi.

"By definition, to learn is to come to be able to, so don't be content with knowing something but focus instead on how you can apply that knowledge to become better at doing. If you know your learning style, you can invest your personal time in developing your skills more effectively by choosing methods that suit your learning style."

Learn to network

Contacts can do a great deal of help to anyone. The more people you know in a particular field, the easier it is to spot opportunities and get referrals.

"Develop your network on a continual basis. In most parts of the world, particularly in developing economies, over 65 per cent of available jobs are not necessarily advertised- they are located in the hidden job market, such as through referrals," said Ravichandra.

"The more far reaching and powerful your network, the more exposure you will have to connecting with opportunities before they are even advertised. Remember, for every one person you add to your direct network, you typically add another 250 people indirectly to your wider network. Get out there and expand your relationships and contacts," he said.

Choose your next company

Companies have different work cultures. If you want to move out of your current organisation, you need to be clear about who you want to work for next. "We each have our own likes and dislikes. At the same time, companies have distinct cultures that may, or may not, suit our individual styles," said Halabi.

"Can you work successfully in that environment? Will you be able to demonstrate value? Can you develop an amicable working relationship with the manager?"

And when you do make it to the interview at the company you want to work for, make sure your questions are answered. "Don't be shy about interviewing the manager when he or she is interviewing you. After all, this is not just another job," Halabi noted.

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Original headline: Come up with a plan to win your desired position


Source: (c) 2014 Al Nisr Publishing LLC . All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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