May 11, 2011

Career Goals: Road Mapping Your Future

checkSo you are out of college, or soon to graduate with your prestigious degree, or perhaps thinking it’s time to make a career move. How do you make certain that you make the best choices in the interest of your long-term career goals?

The answer is simple; create a road map to success. It may sound like a challenging task, but it only takes a bit of forward thinking and can save you a lot of wasted time and energy spent on dead end roads. It also might sound like a superfluous exercise, but it is often these simple self-driven challenges that set you on the right path.

Here’s a simple recipe for road mapping your future career goals.

  1. Decide what your ultimate goal is with your career. Do you want to be a high level executive manager, or perhaps own your own business? Yes, these goals may take a lifetime to achieve, but having the big prize in mind will help motivate you when the road gets bumpy along the way.
  2. Break down the steps required to reach your end goal in one-year, five-year and ten-year increments. For example, if your goal was to reach the level of VP of Marketing, your one-year goal might be to secure an entry-level position with a company you can grow with. At five years, your goal might be to be a departmental manager. At ten years your goal might be to have the Vice President position.
  3. List any roadblocks that you can see in your path. For example, if you only have a bachelor’s degree but need to have a master’s degree to obtain the position you desire, decide at what point in your career you will tackle the advanced degree.
  4. Create a monthly calendar of additional training, networking or studying you can complete to further your goals. While it may seem unnecessary in the early stages of your new career, increasing your industry knowledge and meeting other seasoned veterans of your field will prove to be very useful as you climb your way to the top.
  5. When you hit unexpected roadblocks, review your career goals and roadmap. Find new routes to take you to the next level in your plans. It is very easy to get caught up in the moment and lose sight of the big picture.
  6. If no roadblock presents itself, still pull out your roadmap and reevaluate your plans on a yearly basis. Most people do this around the New Year, or on the one-year anniversary of employment.
  7. Be flexible. Often doors open to new opportunities. Being flexible will allow you to stay ahead of the game and possibly reach your goals faster than you had planned.

If you find mapping your career goals difficult, most universities and career development centers offer career counseling to help you get on the right path. Some recruiters may also offer planning and counseling services to job seekers. Utilizing these resources can have a tremendous impact on your future.

When designing your plan, be sure to seek out help from people in the field. Do your parents have friends that do what you want to do? Do you have a helpful teacher who specializes in that area? Be sure to gather input from people who have already been where you want to go – and don’t be embarrassed! Although a list of career goals can seem very personal and a bit self-serving, most people won’t think of it that way. The vast majority of people (especially your friends, family, and teachers) want to see you succeed and they will be more than happy to help you there.

Read more in Career Goals

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.