From time to time, I work with my clients on their career planning. Sometimes, it is just a vague consideration of their future way into the distance. When they are a new leader and are beginning to find their feet in a new role, or they have been promoted and are looking to establish themselves, looking further ahead can be the last thing in their mind. Occasionally, the next step in their career is the main focus of what we will work together on. Regardless of the circumstances in your career, proactive career planning is always a good idea.
In my work as a leadership coach, a side-issue that often crops up is what’s next for coachees. It’s a great opportunity to help them consider what they need to do right away, to help them plan ahead — and even better — to take specific steps in the near future to prepare them in good time.
Whatever the circumstance and whenever the topic of career planning arises, there is work to do.
Be Proactive in Your Career Planning
If the client is ready and hungry for the next step in their career, we can develop an urgent plan to get them fit and ready to be successful when the time comes for an interview for that promotion. Even when they are years away from a promotion, this is still a good opportunity for career planning, because the most effective preparation is when they proactively take personalized, strategic steps as early as possible.
Looking towards the next step in a career requires a little focus. Of course, more is needed if the opportunity is imminent, so there is great value in looking forward to when that time will come and preparing as far ahead as possible. Initially, it may be a gentle consideration of what might come next. This early stage is a great time to reflect a little on what might be of value in the months and years to come and to develop a plan of what can be done gradually to prepare.
The great news is that it will ensure the client is well-suited for the opportunities ahead, and they will be much more effective in their current role.
Planning Ahead for Your Future Job
The first step is to consider what might be a suitable role to focus on. This needs to be a careful consideration of the potential role, and where possible, what the individual enjoys doing most, as well as appropriate roles that might provide a valuable next step in their even bigger career plan. There is little point in focusing attention on a future job that is not going to suit. Once this is at least in the thought process, taking note of the competency shifts that might be needed in that potential role will generate the opportunities to take on tasks in the short-term that might be of value for their resumé.
Having that clear appreciation of the required competencies and then making a desktop note of where the gaps are, will build an awareness of what might be needed. Once the individual is conscious of what they might need in the future, they will be mindful of those opportunities, such as projects, secondments, training, and other guidance they can proactively target in the months ahead — all in good time for when they might need them.
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The beauty of this is that whilst they are actively managing their career ahead, the organisation benefits from an evolving individual, taking care to upskill themselves ready for the future. And this is valuable in their current role too.
This activity all fits perfectly on a CV or resumé when the time comes. Recruiters and HR teams will be grateful for candidates who show the energy for proactively developing themselves.
Using Stories to Demonstrate Your Qualifications
And at this stage, there is another opportunity for a potential candidate, well prepared for the selection or interview process. Remember that proactive stance you took to create opportunities? Over the time you experienced them, you will have been able to position these into stories that will make preparation for selection processes much easier.
With careful consideration, such stories will tick many of the competency boxes for those assessing for the role to be filled. We all know the famous “Tell me about a time when…” interview question! When these scenarios are actively managed, noted, and documented as the individual carries out their day job, they will form the basis of the stories they need to demonstrate their qualities when selection is underway.
This will make demonstrating competence, proactivity in managing career, as well as near-readiness for the role quite clear.
Being proactive in managing a career is within the grasp of any individual. In the hurly-burly of a busy workplace, creating the time and space occasionally toward oneself is a vital tool. And after all, spending creative time to manage development is a true win-win, for both the individual and organisation.
Want to help your team focus on their futures through career planning with a qualified coach? Check out the Pluma online coaching platform and request a demo today. Our certified executive coaches are ready to support you and your team in building the career plans required to succeed in today’s business environment.