Career Planning: 3 Critical Areas To Include In Your Career Plan


Career planning can seem really overwhelming. To create a really strong career plan, there are many areas to consider for both your long and short term goals, strategies and specific actions. As you’re creating your career plan, ensure that you include the following 3 critical areas.

5-Year Vision

I’ve worked with many clients who were so focused on what they ‘should’ do that they forgot to set the vision of the career they wanted to create. Many of us are worried about doing things right – going to the right school, working for the right company, taking the right opportunity. This is a dangerous mindset.

Instead, we should worry about doing the right things. And the right things are different for each of us.

Start with your vision. Who do you want to become, not just in your career but in your life as well. Do you want a career that provides you lots of flexibility? Or travel? Or structure? Do you want to work at home or do you function best with others? Are you a manager, leading your team or are you a subject matter expert focused on interesting projects? Are you self-employed or do you work for a company? How about hobbies, family, friends, health and finances?

These are critical areas to think about when setting your career plan. By thinking about the type of life you want to live, where career is one aspect of your life, it helps you create that compass bearing.

Personal Value Proposition

Your personal value proposition is the foundation of your career plan. It sits at the base of your strategic career plan and can anchor all of your goals, activities and opportunities.

Once you have a strong personal value proposition, it makes everything from evaluating career opportunites to career training and networking so much easier.

Elements of a personal value proposition include:

  • Who you serve and why they benefit
  • What you uniquely have to offer to a specific career opportunity based on your particular strengths, experience and passion
  • Why does what you do matter to you, your career and the people/company(ies) you serve
  • How you’ve accomplished your results with great evidence, testimonials and success stories

Professional Reputation

Once you have your personal value proposition as a foundation, you can start building your professional reputation on top of it. Your professional reputation includes 2 categories; areas where you influence the reputation message and areas where you earn your professional reputation.

You have a great opportunity to influence your professional reputation in each of these areas:

  • Digital presence (social networks, Google search, digital voice)
  • Network (who you know and how well you serve them)
  • Credentials & artifacts (proof)

While you influence the above areas with your thoughtful approach to building your reputation, you can validate your efforts through this next area. These are the areas where you earn your reputation through the perception and engagement with others. These include:

  • Internal reputation (what people whom you work with say about you)
  • External reputation (what people in your industry/clients say about you)
  • Awards & recognition (validation of the work you’re doing)

When you are clear on your personal value proposition foundation and engage each of the above areas with a consistent approach you will begin to influence your reputation. Without that foundation, you could damage your reputation by being haphazard and not uniquely standing for your area of expertise.

Including these 3 critical areas will help give you structure in evaluating all of your career opportunities, skill building, experiences, training and other career building activities that you undertake. This is your true north, your compass to create career success on your terms.