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“The future depends on what you do today.”—Mahatma Gandhi

The average American is expected to change jobs numerous times, but are they working on their career (increasing responsibilities and pay) or simply moving from one job to the next (similar duties, different company)? Many people find great satisfaction in their work, and it is possible to build on that satisfaction to advance yourself towards a higher goal.

Question Everything
When you are in your 20s, it’s not always simple to see yourself at 50 or 60. However, current trends indicate that many Americans are still working well into their 60s and 70s. Since your working life will consume a solid majority of your waking hours (about 9 hours a day in work or work-related tasks), it makes sense to plan out how you will approach that time. Establishing goals for yourself is key to success. Even if you are well past your 20s, you can still build a career path for yourself. Assessing your talents and skills can help you find your way more effectively than simply following a “passion”. This does not mean you should stay in an unfulfilling job (see our post on the 4 signs it might be time to leave), but that you should take a careful—and honest—look at yourself.

1. What am I good at—and what do I enjoy doing?
This list of skills should not only include your formal education and certifications, but also include an assessment of your interpersonal skills. For example, if have a degree in computer science and find that you love helping other programmers solve problems, you may wish to consider becoming a programming instructor. There are some online assessments that can help you flesh out some possible directions for your skills, but a better idea is to simply write down your own ideas and think about where they might take you.

2. Where do I see myself in 1, 5, 10, and 15 years?
The important thing here is not the number of years, but rather the type of goals: short-term goals (1 year and 5 years), mid-term goals (10 years), and long-term goals (15 or more years). Where will you be in 1 year if you stay in your current job? Does the current position offer the opportunity to move up or into a different position? Does the company have goals and values that you respect? Do you want to be at the same company over the long-term? Why or why not?

3. What skills do you need to attain your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals?
After thinking about where you want to be, write down how to achieve those goals. If, for example, you are a software programmer and you would like to move into a management position, find out what requirements are needed and begin to work on them. This will certainly involve the investment of time and perhaps even some money. Planning on returning to school for a master’s degree or acquiring a certification involves factoring in a number of late nights and weekends at the library. Don’t simply focus on acquiring technical skills, either. “Soft” skills, like learning how to communicate better or understanding body language, can also enhance your success.

4. What can you do right now to move towards your goals?
You might not be able to register for a class now. However, there are other small steps you can take. First, examine your options. Does your current employer offer a continuing education option? What are the requirements? For example, many employers who pay for certifications or degrees require that the employee invest a certain number of years in the company—or pay back the cost of the education/training. Second, talk to others who are in the position you are interested in or one that is similar. Some companies offer mentoring programs, while others encourage more informal approaches. Finally, begin building your network. Research and join organizations dedicated to that career or field. Meet colleagues for coffee to discuss industry-related topics.

5. Reassess your career plan every year.
Are you where you want to be? Have you changed your mind about one of your goals? Experience is a wonderful instructor, and you may find that your previous goals are outdated. Make time every year to examine your progress towards your goals.

Your plan to develop your career starts with an honest assessment of your situation. If you are considering a possible change in your current employment situation, reach out to us at Resolute Technologies. Our dedicated team of recruiters can help you better understand your goals, skills, and talents to support you in building your career.

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