Career Planning

Creating a Career Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2024

Explore the importance of a career plan in achieving your 2024 goals. Get actionable steps and tips on crafting your personalized career roadmap for success.
March 10, 2023
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90000 HOURS.

That's how much it's estimated the average American spends working in their lifetime.

Sure, you could go into it willy-nilly, but that's years of your life you're leaving up to chance, or you can create a career plan to ensure your success, happiness, and fulfillment. 

But don't before you get too stressed—don't worry; we're taking you through the ins and outs of career planning. Trust us, by the end of it you'll not only know what you want to do but also have a plan and toolkit necessary to go after your goals.

Creating a Career Plan in 2024

As some people do, you may choose to forgo a career plan and go with the flow. They embrace spontaneity and adapt as circumstances unfold. However, dedicating some time to contemplate your career plan for 2024 offers significant advantages:

  1. Gain Perspective: Crafting your 2024 career plan prompts you to ponder essential questions like, "What do I desire from my job and career?" and "What changes do I wish to make in 2024?" This reflection gives you a broader perspective beyond your daily tasks and to-do lists.
  2. Explore Possibilities: You'll explore various possibilities while creating your 2024 career plan. This exercise encourages you to contemplate what you truly want and deserve, fostering personal growth and expanding your horizons.
  3. Guiding Force: Once you've settled on your 2024 career plan, it guides your thoughts and actions, ensuring you stay aligned with your goals.
  4. Boost Confidence: Gaining clarity about your career plan for 2024 instills confidence that you're on the right path, offering a reassuring sense of direction.

What is a Career Plan?

Think of career planning as your personal roadmap to success. It's like choosing your own adventure, where your path can lead to:

  1. Moving up the career ladder from an entry-level job to a leadership role.
  2. Exploring a new career path that suits you better.
  3. Taking on roles with more responsibilities and challenges.
  4. Exploring well-paying trade jobs that don't require a college education.

Step 1: Self-Assessment for Career Planning

Your career plan starts with understanding yourself better. Take time to think about:

  1. What Matters to You: Consider factors like salary expectations, work environment preferences, societal contributions, and the importance of prestige in your career decisions.
  2. Your Interests: Identify what you enjoy doing in various aspects of your life. Tools like the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory can help match your interests with suitable careers.
  3. Your Personality: Online surveys like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help classify your personality type and suggest careers that might suit you.
  4. Your Abilities: Assess your strengths and skills to make decisions about further education or training. Want to develop your skills, enroll in online classes or externships.

Ask yourself self-assessment questions like:

  • What am I good at, and where do I need improvement?
  • What makes me happy in both my personal and professional life?
  • What are my long-term career goals?
  • What values matter most to me in my career, such as work-life balance or helping others?
  • What do I want from my job or work situation, considering my current needs and preferences?
  • If I could change my work situation, how would I do it?
  • What aspects do I want more of in my career, and what do I want less of?
  • Which career plan option best celebrates me and moves me closer to my ideal scenario in 2024?
  • Can I monetize my passion, or should I consider adapting my goals to align with market trends and industry demand?

Step 2: Choosing a Career Path

In the end, it is your lifestyle aspirations that should determine your choice of career. For Gen Z, almost every decision is based on how it will affect your lifestyle—where you want to live, how much money you want to make, if you want to have a family, how much free time and flexibility you want to have, et cetera.

There are multiple career paths you can choose from, including: 

  1. Knowledge-Based: Employees in roles such as HR, marketing, accounting, IT, and engineering leverage their knowledge and expertise acquired over time.
  2. Skill-Based: Skill-based careers demand hands-on or physical skills, seen in professions like construction, performing arts, culinary arts, and more.
  3. Entrepreneur-Based: Entrepreneurs create solutions by offering their products or services. They may work independently or establish businesses, often hiring employees.
  4. Freelance: Freelancers offer specialized services as independent contractors, covering various fields like graphic design, consulting, home repair, and photography.

Not sure which career plan option to choose? Here are five questions to consider:

1) What do I want from my job or work situation? We change over time. Your needs and preferences now may be very different from what they were a few years ago.

2) If I could snap my fingers and change my work situation to suit me, how would I change it?

3) What do I want MORE of in my career? What do I want LESS of?

4) I deserve a job or work situation that celebrates me. Which of the three career plan options Grow Muscles in Place, Change Jobs or Build Your Two-Lane Highway, will do that best?

5) Which of the three career plan options above will move me closest to my ideal scenario in 2024, to live the life I deserve?

Step 3: The Job Search

To begin your job search, it's essential to narrow down your interests. Start by listing five job roles or titles that pique your interest, and then choose five industries you'd like to explore further. This step helps you clarify your career goals and preferences.

Next, delve into potential employers by creating a list of companies that align with your career aspirations. Take into account factors such as the company's size, location, remote work policies, and culture. Make sure to document all these details in your Job Search Planner workbook, which will serve as a valuable resource throughout your job search journey.

As you research these companies, look for common themes or traits that resonate with your personal interests and career objectives. Pay particular attention to their websites, focusing on whether they provide comprehensive information about benefits, company culture, current job openings, and contact details for submitting your application. This thorough approach will help you tailor your job search effectively and make informed decisions.

Now that you've uncovered your hidden talents and potential, set goals that are clear. Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). For example, if you aim to become a manager within five years, outline the steps to reach that goal.

Once you've narrowed down potential careers, get practical experience to learn more:

  • Talk to Professionals: Connect with people in your desired field to learn about their careers, education, and industry insights. This is also a chance to network.
  • Job Shadowing: Spend time observing professionals at work to understand their daily tasks and career paths.
  • Volunteer: Gain hands-on experience related to your desired role by offering your time to relevant organizations.
  • Internships: Seek internship opportunities to gain direct experience and exposure to your chosen field.
  • Part-Time Work: Consider entry-level positions or assistant roles in companies related to your desired career.
  • Find a Mentor: Connect with an experienced mentor in your field for guidance and practical advice.
  • Take Relevant Courses: Enroll in courses related to your intended career for essential knowledge and skills.

Develop a job application strategy

Before you start applying to new roles, you'll need to update your resume, cover letter, and online presence. 

Once you've pinpointed your timeline, target companies, and titles and updated your materials, it's time to develop your job application strategy. How and where are you going to find jobs to apply to?

Some avenues to explore include but are not limited to:

  • Referrals. If you have a friend or former colleague who works at a company you're interested in, you can kindly ask them for a referral. Referrals are bumped up in the hiring process and are a great way to get in the door faster than you would if you applied online.
  • Contacting internal recruiters. Internal recruiters are salaried employees of a specific company. They're usually very active on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed.
  • Contacting external recruiters. External recruiters, also known as headhunters, work for outside agencies. External recruiters typically work for more than one company and are usually looking for available talent to call upon when they receive open roles.
  • Cold emailing. Reaching out to someone you don't know might feel daunting, but if done politely, it can help you build valuable connections. Use a free tool to find the email addresses of people you'd like to speak to, whether they're a recruiter, founder, or someone who is currently in your dream role.
  • Applying online. If you're unable to get a referral or connect with a recruiter, you can apply directly to an online job listing. No matter the company's size, online applicants are still screened by a human. 
  • Networking. Great places to network include professional organizations, Facebook and LinkedIn groups, job fairs, and social clubs

Monitor Your Progress

Regularly review and adjust your career plan as needed. Monitor your progress towards your goals, and be willing to adapt your plan if circumstances change or new opportunities arise.

Creating an effective career plan is a proactive and empowering way to take control of your professional life. By following these steps, you can develop a roadmap that will guide you towards your dream career. Remember that a career plan is not set in stone; it's a dynamic document that can evolve as you grow and your aspirations change. Stay committed to your goals, and you'll be well on your way to achieving the career success you desire.

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