Entering a new year is often a time of reflection, assessment, and setting goals. These goals you set for your career are among the most important plans you will make. Often people don’t know where to start when developing career goals. This all too often results in frustration and abandoned plans. I think of career planning as a three-step process – Self Assessment, Identify Opportunities and Gaps, and Create a Map.

Self-Assessment

As the old cliché goes, before you can get anywhere you have to first know where you are. The first place to begin this introspective is your resume. Look at your resume and make a list of your education, skills, and experience.

When you have completed this list, it’s time to take a look at your past employment performance reviews. Ideally you would want to look over quarterly reviews for the past 18 months. However, if you don’t have that much data available, use whatever you have. Look for patterns of improvement, or areas that could still use a bit of attention and add these things to the list of items from your resume.

The last step in the self-assessment process is to write a short paragraph, no longer than 75 words, that describes who you are, based on the list you just created.

Identify Opportunities and Gaps

Now that you have a nice and concise picture of where you are currently in your career, it’s time to look for opportunities that fit into where you are headed, and obstacles you’ll need to overcome. The process for this step appears to be quite simple.

  1. Find opportunities (job opportunities, volunteer work, educational ops, etc.) that align with where you are, and where you would like to be.
  2. Identify gaps (experience, educational, weaknesses, etc.) that you need to close in order to achieve your goals.

As I said, this 2-step process appears to be very simple. However, you will spend more time identifying opportunities and gaps than you’ll spend on the self-assessment and creating a map combined. This process is purposely broad in nature so that it can be adapted to virtually any career or situation.

Create a Map

Once you have completed steps 1 and 2 thoroughly and thoughtfully, you’ll find that creating a map is the simplest step of all. Make two columns – Opportunities and Gaps. In each column, create a 1-line action plan to address every opportunity and gap that you identified in step 2. For example, if you identified finishing your degree as a gap, your action plan could be “Enroll at XXX college and finish by degree in XXX by xx/xx/xxxx.”

After you have addressed each opportunity and gap with an actionable item, the final step is to separate these into short and long-term goals. Now you are armed with a map that will help you see the most efficient path to your goals.

Have a happy and prosperous year!

Danielle Foppe is a Lead Technical Recruiter at Business Centric Technology. If you are interested in learning more about how to get the best IT talent in the Dallas metroplex, contact Danielle directly at dfoppe@bct-corp.com or call us at 972-267-7950. Business Centric Technology specializes in recruiting IT talent in Dallas, Ft. Worth and North Texas. If you are looking for a rewarding career contact us today.