The career management game has changed and you need a new strategy. In years past, long hours and tenure were the keys to advancing your career. Wait for the right set of eyes to land on your achievements, and POW! you’re on your way up the corporate ladder. The problem: You’re a passive bystander waiting to get the recognition and advancement you deserve.

It’s time to take the wheel and drive your career!

Any recruiter or career coach will tell you your first step should be networking, the act of connecting with like-minded people to create career opportunities. While networking is a fundamental part of your career development, it’s not the magic pill.

For successful career management & advancement, you must manage your career just like you would a business.

And, any successful business begins with a plan…

A business plan begins with your vision or your goal. Are you invested in a long-term plan to obtain that ultimate dream job? Or are you focused on a short-term plan designed to land your next job? Regardless of your end goal, your career “business plan” should cover these six fundamental areas:

My Career Goal

What is your specific goal? Set a clear vision for your future, from the position and salary you want to the ideal culture and people you see yourself working with. If you’re not sure what you want, a career self-assessment can help.

Career Management & Advancement Plan

Time is a key factor in your career management plan!

Time Frame

How long do you have? Where do you see yourself in six months, two years or even five years? Decide on a realistic timeline, taking into account the amount of time you have to devote to executing your plan.

My Skills & Experience

Do you have what it takes? Think about what your next boss is looking for in an employee? Do you need to get more education, training, or a certification? Are there projects you can lead in your current role to give yourself management experience and expand your skill set?

My Networking Strategy

Where is your next perfect opportunity? With over 75% of positions being filled through some form of networking, how will you build your network to have better access to your next job?

My Budget

All smart business plans have a budget, so should yours. Attending networking events, joining associations, and coffees with former colleagues cost money. Decide how much you want to budget toward career networking and keep track.

My Action Plan

What are your next steps? Do you need a new resume, cover letter, or an elevator pitch? Your plan will be a flexible outline that describes what you want to do and how you expect to do it. To begin, open a blank document and use the six areas above as page headers to brainstorm your ideas for each. Make these into specific, actionable goals. For example, if you haven’t updated your resume in the past six months, schedule time to update it yourself or hire a resume service to help you. Each goal should be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound – and broken into weekly actions. Breaking bigger goals into smaller, more manageable actions will give you a sense of progress, increase your confidence, and will ultimately lead to you getting hired faster!

While this process may sound simple, it will help your career management and advancement from becoming overwhelming. Additionally, you may reach a point where bringing in an expert is necessary. Attending a few free In-transition Job search classes or hiring a Career Coach. A coach is an excellent resource when you feel your job search is lagging and you are becoming discouraged. He or she will help you develop your plan and keep you on track. A good career coach will offer you a free assessment to determine your individual needs before getting started.

Whether you decide to go it alone or use an expert, defining and mapping out your plan is your first step. Both career management and advancement require ongoing investment and planning. Make the commitment now. You’ll be glad you did.

Check out our Ultimate Job Search Guide for more recruiter tips and advice!

Career Development