Improving your own career options and employability is one of the most powerful and empowering steps that you can take right now.
Whether that means pulling down a degree or receiving certification in a field you’re already involved in or learning a new language (perhaps a coding language) and learning to market yourself more effectively online, investing in your career is the best kind of investment.
The amazing thing about investing in your own career is that it provides a more reliable return than any kind of outward investment. Why’s that?
Because internal investment in yourself and improving your employability through more education and more effective networking will bolster all of your professional skills and create the foundations for you to launch your dream career. There’s absolutely a virtuous cycle going on here.
Career Management: Have a Personal Business Game Plan
Career management, according to the University of California-Berkeley, will allow you to clarify and achieve your career goals while enhancing your career resiliency.
Career resiliency means that you’ll be able to roll with the punches and develop new skills as new professional opportunities arise. Keep in mind that career management is a continuous process that enables you to tackle hurdles as they arise and stay on track as your personal and professional goals develop.
In order to allow you to meet the unexpected challenges of tomorrow, career management should be about giving you a flexible, broad range of skills. Indeed, that’s just what career management is about since it focuses on: prioritizing career goals, developing strategies to meet those goals, building relationships, and finding fulfilling jobs more efficiently.
To have a workable career development plan and professional trajectory laid out you’ll have to do a self-assessment, commit to lifelong learning and be willing to explore more careers as opportunities change. As you can already tell, this is really personalized and about self-investment all the way.
- Career Development Plan
Think of your career development plan as the blueprint that’s going to guide you throughout your career. A career development plan is essentially a list of the short- and long-term goals that you’ll need to checklist in order to keep moving in the professional direction that’s going to give you the most personal fulfillment.
You might know what brings you happiness and fulfillment in a job…and you might not. Obviously, your strengths and weaknesses and where you draw fulfillment should be informing the short- and long-term goals in your career development plan.
If you’re struggling here because of a career transition or lack of experience in a new field, then you probably need to take a self-assessment to clarify your priorities and career goals.
- Consider a Career Counselor
Jumping into the job search without clarifying your goals and values can often result in an unsatisfying, hectic job search process that doesn’t even bring you closer to finding your dream career.
Instead, consider going to a career counselor and taking inventories and assessments in the following areas: your personality, work values, professional skills, and personal interests.
Here’s one work value inventory. At minimum, these kinds of skills and work values inventories will help clarify whether you prefer a structured versus flexible work environment, fast paced versus deliberative work, and work that focuses on risk-taking versus predictability and stability.
You might even find that you’re particularly well-suited to running your own cafe, investing in bookkeeping franchises, or pursuing a career as a software engineer. Investing in your career is first and foremost about investing in yourself. To invest in yourself you first have to understand yourself.
Clarifying your values and goals will then help you create a career development plan that enables you to chart out the next few months (short-term goals) and your long-term career benchmarks (more than five years out).
Career Investment Is a Lifelong Process
As you age, find that one career path is less promising than you thought, or simply yearn to explore something more exciting, there’s always the opportunity to reevaluate.
It’s important to remember that reevaluating your options doesn’t have to be a solitary process. A career counselor can help you discover your new work values or—if you’re struggling to stay committed — a career coach can really prove invaluable. A career coach can give you personalized advice and perspective you might not even know you needed.
And while networking skills and education last a lifetime, investing in your career is ultimately an enrichment process. Family and friends shouldn’t be left out of your work-life balance.