Getting started with career planning

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place you don’t want to be.”


Whether or not you have an actual career plan in place comes down to one thing; do you know what it is you want? Without at least a rough idea of an end goal, it can be difficult to find purpose and fulfilment in your current career. By taking the time to consider what your career plan looks like, it can help to manage direction, identify the skills you need and work out how to get them.

Thinking about the steps below will enable you to create your very own career statement; a one-liner that defines where you want be. It will help align everything you do in your career or your education and focus your energy on doing things to reach that goal. To consider what it is you want in the future, work through the steps below…

Step 1 – Self-Assessment

We all have different values in our careers and in our personal lives. Because our working lives take up most of our time, it’s important that our personal values align with what we want to achieve in our careers. Because of this, it’s critical to understand why a career end goal is there and how you reached that conclusion. Your values should shape everything you want to achieve in your career; you should be able to balance values and needs with a career that brings you fulfilment.

Step 2 – Consider options and identify available roles that fit your interests

Before narrowing down potential jobs and careers linked just to your prior experience, consider other areas your skillset and interest could be applied. Check out this personality test by the Guardian, which will identify suitable careers based off of the results of your test. It’s a great way to widen to search for your new career. What’s equally important, is that any potential career options are well suited to your personal values and preferences.

Step 3 – Decide on your career goals

If you’re yet to make concrete long term decisions, start by thinking about the next 2 years and what you’d like to achieve in this time. This kind of thinking will enable you to break down the bigger picture and make your career planning more manageable. Use the system to write clearly defined short statements on your career goals. For example, ‘I want to work 4 days a week for a start-up tech company in a marketing role’. Even if you’re not 100% sure this is the end goal, over time writing these short statements will help you become clearer on your goals.

Make use of the SMARTER system below to create your own statement.

Specific: be as clear as you can and avoid ambiguous statements.

Measurable: so you can see what you have achieved.

Achievable: provides motivation, but also keep your goals reachable.

Realistic: be reasonable and avoid the realms of fantasy.

Timely: create timeframes for completing steps, for example, doing short courses or talking with someone about the skills required for a particular job.

Empowering: make sure your goals feel right for you and help you make the changes you want.

Reviewable: do not set your goals in concrete; be flexible.


Once you have taken the time to develop a strategy, its critical that you review and develop this. Maybe your goals will change, or you’ll hit some of your targets. To retain that drive & focus in your career, it’s great to revisit and even reconsider what you want at 6 month or even 1 year intervals.

Any tips & tricks you’ve used to plan your career goals? We’d love to hear them; tweet us @Cute_Resource