Exploring your career options: five steps to success

Exploring your career options

Feeling a little confused about where you’re going in your career? Love your job but feel like you’re lacking direction?

It might be time to revisit your career options goal. Even if you have started your working life with a firm career plan – it’s easy to get lost in the noise of the day to day. Taking some time to plan out where you’re going will pay off.

Here’s how to explore your options and get things back on track:

1. Map your journey.

First things first. Before you start making career plans, you need to have a clear overview of your work history. Put pen to paper and create a high level overview of each job you’ve had. List the key tasks associated with each and highlight any achievements. Are you pleased with your journey thus far? Do you feel proud of your achievements? Is there anything you would change and have you deviated from what you set out to achieve? If so, has this been a positive or a negative? Writing down your thoughts next to each job will help you see things more objectively.

2. Do a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis is typically used by companies to make business decisions but it’s also a great tool for career planning. It allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses along with opportunities and threats. It’s also a great way to identify transferrable skills and anything that’s holding you back. Use our free download to get started.

3. Write down a list of likes and dislikes.

It might sound simple but getting to know yourself takes time, understanding, experience and growth. Make a list of the tasks in your current role that you like and that are important to you. Write a list of the tasks you dislike or would prefer not to do. This can be at work or outside it. If you come up with more dislikes than likes it could mean you need a change in careers. But if your work is mainly in the like list – then perhaps you just need more challenging opportunities where you are.

4. Plan.

By now you should have good idea of what you want to change. Write down your objectives and then start brainstorming. If it’s a new job, then getting your resume up to scratch and searching job websites will be key. If it’s study, then talking to your employer about funding or time off for study and exams, may be the first step. Key to this part is clear objectives and actions, along with milestones. Having a plan will help keep you focused and on track.

5. Ask for help.

Once you’ve mapped your journey, it’s worth reaching out and asking for assistance. If you enjoy working for your current employer, then ask human resources if they can help with career planning. If you’re thinking about changing jobs – then track down a career advisor in your area. In New Zealand, you can visit the government careers website. Alternatively, consider enlisting some paid help. Having someone who’s objective and experienced to guide you is a good investment in your future.

When your plan is in place, ensure that you commit to revisiting and reviewing it. Throughout our working lives, opportunities can pop up that pull us sideways or change our course completely. Sometimes we end up doing something completely different, only to discover we really like it. The important thing is to commit to an annual check in with yourself and your career plan to make sure you’re happy and moving towards your goals.

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Filed under: Career Advice Resources
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