How to make a career plan, in three easy steps

Everyone needs a career plan to follow; it’s not good enough to wander through your working life and take whatever comes your way.Yes, there are random events that affect us, but we are in a better position to respond to them and carve out a rewarding outcome if we have an end game in mind.There are many suggestions offered by many experts on how to develop a career plan, but the secret is to come up with an approach that works for you – that fits your unique capabilities, perspective and outlook.

I developed my own career game-plan method. I didn’t want a boilerplate; I wanted something different that would focus on the practical task of implementation as opposed to having a “grand plan.”What I didn’t want was a planning framework that everyone else used that merely focused on the completeness of the plan or making sure that all of the boilerplate topics were covered and expecting that success would come from that.The process that I created – and has worked for me over a 33-year career from an analyst position to president – was to build a path to your destiny by answering three basic questions.

What job do you want?

This question addresses personal growth – what specific position do you covet and when do you want get there?

Most people are vague when asked about their career goals: “I would like a position managing people” or “I want to lead a marketing or sales team.” These aspirations don’t feed implementation very well; they don’t direct you to a specific action plan. And a game plan that can’t be executed isn’t worth much.

Who can help you?

Who are the individuals – the foxes – within an organization who influence decisions on who gets selected for various positions in the organization you are targeting?

Career game-plan success means engaging with the right people to spread your word and get attention so you get the invitation to make your pitch. I have seen many talented people fail because they did not cultivate the right channels to express their skills and experience.

If you covet the VP marketing position for Telus, for example, identify who can help you, and “mentor up” with high currency individuals.

Other venues for your fox hunt include social media communities, chambers of commerce, boards of trade and industry associations.

The answer to this question could be: “I will focus my attention and efforts on connecting with Telus managers who are on LinkedIn and are members of local communications networking groups.”

How can you beat your competition?

The competition for career positions has never been greater. You need to be able to position yourself as THE most logical choice; you need to separate yourself from the job-hunting herd.

The killer questions you must have a believable and compelling answer to are: There are many applicants for this position; why should I pick you? What makes you special?

If your pitch doesn’t crisply identify the experience and competencies you possess that are critical for the position AND how you are different from others, you likely will not get picked.

My eyes glaze over when I hear “I have great interpersonal skills,” or “I have 10 years sales experience.”