How Does This Job Fit Your Career Plan?
In creating a plan for your career path or transition you identified your goals. These goals related to everything from salary level, to opportunities for growth and change, to benefits and working environment. As part of your decision process in choosing your job, you compared what you learned about the organization to these goals.
Now that you are in the job and in the organization, continue to evaluate the choice in terms of those goals, as well as reviewing the goals themselves on an ongoing basis.
How Long Will You Remain In This Job?
While this job meets your goals today, did you take this job with the intention of staying with this job or this organization indefinitely? Or is this position part of your overall plan that includes gaining a certain amount of experience or expertise, after which you plan to move on?
While it is not necessary to tell your employer how long you plan to remain in a specific job or in their organization, it is good to be clear with yourself. If you plan to stay long term, then your plan must include specific tactics to enable you to progress within the job. If you plan to stay for a shorter term, then your plan must include specific tactics to enable you to acquire the skills or experience you intend.
We will look at each of these options in more detail in the sections below on “What Other Careers Are of Interest in This Organization” and “What Do You Expect to Learn in This Job That Will Contribute to Your Career Growth”.
What Do You Need To Learn To Be Effective In This Job?
For however long you intend to be in this job, it is essential that you identify the ingredients for success. If you plan to stay long term, then your growth within the organization is dependent on this question. If you plan to stay for a shorter term, then your choices of other jobs and organizations depend on this question.
Every job requires and provides a set of skills which are essential to your success in that job. Your first step should be to meet with your manager and with your HR professional and work with each of them to identify what they believe to be the essential skills you need. Where you lack some of those skills, determine where, when, and how you can acquire those skills.
Some skills can only be acquired on the job by learning from others. Other skills can only be learned at that organization by reading manuals, taking in-house training, or working with specialists. Take the time to learn the Who, What, Where, When, and How that will make the difference.
How will you acquire skills for success within your organization? Put together your plan including the skills you plan to acquire, the method of acquiring those skills, when you will acquire them, and how you will be able to visibly demonstrate that you have acquired those skills.
There are also skills that you can learn through specific training. Once you have identified these skills with your manager and HR professional, you will identify any recommended or required external training offered by the organization. Some will be available as physical courses and seminars; others will be online, while some will involve reading or taking tests.
As early as possible, you should identify which skills are the most valuable in your present job, and put a schedule of education in place. Share this schedule with your management and HR department to show your commitment to your job and organization. Be sure to keep the schedule up to date, reflecting completed items, and achievements.
For skills to be acquired internally, in the absence of formal training, consider how best to reflect the acquisition of those skills. In most cases, it will be a memo or letter from a superior or co-worker, in which that individual acknowledges your achievement. These will be of value to you both in your present job and in future jobs.
Along the way you may receive certain certifications, identifying you as a professional who has either completed some courseware or achieved some recognition. These will be of value to you as you progress, not to hang on your wall, but as evidence of your ongoing efforts.
The key points, regarding skills to be acquired, include:
- List the skills to be acquired.
- List the means by which those skills are to be acquired.
- List the evidence that will tell others – your HR department, manager, future employers – that you have successfully acquired the skills (memo/letter, certificate, and letters to put after your name).
- List the date, as specifically as possible, when you plan to acquire the skills and complete the acquisition process.
Skills and knowledge are not the same thing. Skill is defined as:
“Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience.”
Knowledge is defined as:
Familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study.
While acquiring skills, it is likely that you will also acquire knowledge of:
- Why the skills are necessary to you and to the organization
- How the skills are applied within the context of the organization
- The origins and evolution of the skills
Clearly, skills and knowledge are related, and both contribute to your success in your job and your success in effectively implementing your career strategy. Focusing on knowledge, there are a number of areas of knowledge that will be of great benefit to you:
- History of the organization.
- History of your group, department, organization within the larger organization.
- Specific knowledge about your job, including technical/professional specialty knowledge.
- Knowledge about the other jobs that interact with yours.
- Knowledge about the organization structure and where your job and group fit in that structure.
- Knowledge about your organization’s customers, who may be either internal or external.
- Knowledge about your company’s industry, and where your company stands in terms of prestige and respect within that community and within its customer community.
- While learning never stops, you should set some specific goals that will help you to be a more effective and valuable member of your organization. In order to succeed, itemize the areas of knowledge you intend to acquire, prioritize them, and then create your plan to acquire the knowledge.
Tools for acquiring knowledge include:
- Reading trade journals and other publications.
- Reading company documents, including annual reports, product marketing literature, service literature, technical specification, and
- historical documents.
- Interviewing individuals who have been with the organization for a long time.
- Interviewing individuals who have, like you, recently joined the organization.
- Talking with customers (if this is reasonable and permitted).
- Joining and attending trade associations or professional groups.
- Participating in online mailing lists that are relevant to your organization, its industry, your job and your profession/career.
- Researching the state of the art in your area on Google, Yahoo!, and other online search engines and sources.
- Researching the state of your company’s industry on search engines.
- Public seminars, fee and free.
- Private seminars, offered to your company or to a group of companies.