How to Determine Your Next Career Step
If you’ve been in your current position for a few years, you might be looking for a change. But where should you go? We’ll give some pointers for determining your next career step so that when you make that move, it will lead you closer towards your goals.
- Determine what you would like to accomplish by the end of your career. Think about the types of projects you’d like to work on, whether or not you’d like to spend some time overseas, and any dream employer you want to work for. Write these things down, and make a rough timeline for when you’d like to achieve them.
- Write down what steps you need to take. Ask yourself what you need to learn or do before you can start taking any of these steps. For example, if you want to lead a specific type of project, perhaps you need to acquire certain skills first. If you want to work overseas for a year, you might need to complete 18 months or more in your current position before your company will send you abroad. Or if you want to work for your dream company, maybe you need to relocate to another city to be nearer to the organization’s headquarters.
- Make a plan for the next five years. You don’t have to make a definite plan for the rest of your career, but it’s helpful to be specific about the immediate future. As Gwen Moran advises in her article “A 6-Step Plan to Figure Out Your Next Career Move” for Fast Company, having a set window will help you plan definite steps to move forward towards your immediate goals. Be realistic, and only set yourself goals that are achievable within this time frame — but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself! Once you have a practical plan on how to set the first steps towards your ultimate career goals, you can start thinking about the next ones.
- Start taking action. For example, if you need to learn the Six Sigma method before you can lead a certain type of project, research which training courses are best and plan ahead how you’ll pay for your certification. If you want to work overseas, find out who you need to talk to about that in HR. Or if you need to relocate to another city to be closer to your dream company, look for jobs in that area that you could already apply to.
When it’s time to change course in your career, the next step can feel both exciting and intimidating. But if you’ve examined your career objectives thoroughly and made a solid plan that will allow you to achieve them, you can be confident that you’re on the right track.