No matter where you are on the long winding road of your lifelong career, it’s never a bad idea to stop, check your map, and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. What are you trying to get out of your working life? Which matters most to you: money, growth, security and predictability, or daily challenge? Where do you want to be in five years? How about ten years? Here are three common career milestones and a few key planning tips for each one. Check the tips that apply to your situation and make sure you’re on the right track.
1. You’re choosing a college major, or you’re graduating and stepping into the workforce for the first time.
Since you don’t have much experience in any profession yet, you need to rely on the guidance of mentors and the dictates of your own heart as you roll the dice and take your next step. A good idea: Look in the mirror before you act, and think carefully about who you really are and what you enjoy doing the most with the hours of your day. Stay true to your personality and remember that you’ll be spending almost every single day, week, and month of your working life engaged in the field you choose.
A bad idea: It’s an unwise plan to follow a path you find uninteresting, impractical or repellant because others—parents, teachers, neighbors, or peers—expect this of you. These people may seem to care how you spend the next four decades of your life, but they aren’t as invested in your life as you are. They won’t be there ten years down the road when you wake up and realize this isn’t the career for you.
2. You’re employed, but you aren’t happy.
Don’t put things off any longer. It’s time to gather your courage, make a decision and take action. You have two choices: start a new career, which may mean going back to school. Or look around for a new path within the career you already have. This may mean gunning for a promotion, switching departments, or applying with another company. In either of these scenarios, you aren’t alone. The next move will require some risk-taking and self-direction, but people all around you are making these transitions every day. Be the hero—not the victim—of your own life story.
3. You’re not employed, but you want to be.
If you’re actively looking for work and nothing seems to be happening, it may be time for a new job search strategy. Like you, many job seekers get off to a positive, enthusiastic start, but begin feeling the weight of self-doubt after they’ve been on the market for a few weeks or months. If you suspect your resume could use a boost, or you’ve exhausted your list of networking contacts, or you just aren’t sure why you aren’t getting the interviews and offers you need, reach out to job search experts, mentors, and online resources that function as forums for others in your position. There’s no reason to accept stagnation and frustration if a few simple changes or some outside perspective could shake your job search out of a negative pattern.
LiveCareer (www.livecareer.com), home to America’s #1 Resume Builder, connects job seekers of all experience levels and career categories to all the tools, resources and insider tips needed to win the job. Connect with us on Facebook and Google+ for even more tips and advice on all things career and resume-related.
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