Getting started on your 2021 Career Plan

If one of your new year resolutions for 2021 is to make some changes to your current work situation, whether that be a complete career audit and change, seeking a promotion, re-aligning your work-life balance or seeking a similar role in a new company you’ll need to start with a clear plan, and set some goals and actionable tasks to achieve them within your desired time frames.

Career decision making and job search at any time can be daunting and if it is not something you have done a lot of throughout your career then getting started can be especially difficult.  Here are some things to think about if crafting a career worth getting out of bed for is your New Year's resolution for 2021.

Imagine your ideal life and career in 3 to 5years, set your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal); and chunk it down into smaller, measurable, and achievable action steps to get you started and maintain your motivation.  Imagining the perfect future is great but often seems like too large a task to handle all at once.  By setting yourself some achievable goals within shorter time frames in weeks or months you can start ticking off the list one bite at a time knowing you are getting closer to your big goal every day.

TIP:  When making up my “to do” list I start with something I’ve already done and tick it off first. It can be highly motivating knowing you have already completed the first step!

Focus on what you can control; There is no point worrying about how to change something you can’t.   For example, you can’t control the impact of Covid19 or any other economic factors on your industry or company’s results and whether or not your job is secure because of those. However, you can start some career planning in the event your job is affected by identifying skills you might need to develop for a new role or sector and look for ways to hone those skills. You can control your networking activities to cultivate new professional relationships and promote your value add, and you can conduct a personal financial audit and planning to be ready in the event of job loss or a longer than anticipated job search.  You can also control your thoughts, feelings and reactions to decisions and events around you which will help you build optimism and resilience and enable you to affect the change you desire.

Be consistent with your efforts; whether daily or weekly, put some time aside to focus on your career planning activities.  Prioritise this time and eliminate distractions. If there is a time of the day when you are most focussed and at your best, set time aside during this period to work on your career planning.  Keep in mind you are the author of your new future – if you do nothing, nothing will change.  

Don’t be afraid to ask for information and advice; most people want to help but can only give you something they are able to such as advice and information. If you ask a contact if they have a job for you the answer in that moment will most likely be no.  Develop professional relationships by promoting what you have done, and what you have to offer, so that if your contact hears of a role in the future they will recommend you.  People who know you well can help you identify your skills and make suggestions on what kind of role they see you in. Others are more than happy to talk about their industry, company, job and associated challenges and opportunities to help you with your research.  Find positive role models and mentors who will challenge your thinking, and help you understand yourself and what you need to start and stop doing to reach your BHAG.  

Take care of the nitty gritty and enlist a professional if you need help; at some stage you may need to update your CV, LinkedIn profile, start networking or get some help with your interview technique.  If it’s not your area of expertise or you haven’t been in job search for a long time, it’s probably a good idea to find out how to craft a compelling CV and linkedIn profile based on today's standards or get help answering behavioural/scenario-based interview questions.  There is a lot of advice online; make sure you check out what’s relevant for your region.  CV format differs significantly in NZ to what is considered ideal in the US or Europe for example.   Once again get advice and feedback from your network, especially those who may be reviewing CV’s and interviewing candidates themselves and if you need to, enlist a career coach or CV writing professional to help.  

Here are some links to resources which may help you with your career planning and job search:

Check out this article by Catherine Moore from Positive Psychology explaining Learned Optimism, a concept developed by Dr Martin Seligman which may be helpful - Positive Psychology - Learned Optimism article

Free resources on my website -  CareerSpheres Resources 

Seek NZ’s templates and resources -  Seek templates and resources

linkedIn has some good resources to prepare for interviews on the free version and additional resources and training if you have a paid upgrade - Linkedin Interview preparation

Finally feel free to get in touch with me for a free 20minute career discussion if you are wanting some advice and guidance on your career.| +64 21 67 5870 | |

I approached Leeanne from Career Spheres when my workplace was going through a restructure 18 months ago and again more recently during a Covid19 related restructure. Each time the company started talking about change I felt a lot of unease and found it hard to think clearly to make the hard decisions like do I take voluntary Redundancy? do I apply for another internal role or leave for another challenge?. After just one session with Leeanne I felt a lot clearer about what options would suit my current situation and after 2 sessions I was able to make a decision and feel confident about it. I have now left my employer and Leeanne is helping with my CV, LinkedIN profile and preparation for upcoming interviews. I find her service invaluable and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to others at any kind of career crossroads!

August 2020