You’ll be more likely to achieve a long-term career goal if you create and pursue a plan that consists of a number of short-term career objectives. Most managers and executives work their way into their positions rather than wait for them to be offered. With the right planning, you can set and achieve long-term career goals that make your time in the trenches more worthwhile.
Long-term career goals are those that take years to achieve, often occurring during the middle or near the end of your time in the workforce, depending on when you set them. Examples include achieving a specific title, entering a new field or owning your own business. These are long-term aspirations not because you must wait for them to happen, but because they require a combination of skills and experience that take years to acquire. Reaching some goals, such as earning a certification in your field, won’t take long to accomplish, but will take years to occur because your present situation doesn’t allow you to start pursuing it just yet.
To achieve your long-term objective, create a plan you can begin following to help you get to your goal as soon as possible. Start by learning as much as you can about what it will take to achieve your ultimate goal. For example, rather than using generic words such as “experience” and “connections” to describe the qualifications for a particular job, list the skills, specific experience, knowledge and competencies of people who hold these positions. Do a job search for the position you want to achieve and look at what employers want in candidates. Set up informational interviews with people who hold that job and ask them how they got there and what they suggest you do.
Once you know exactly what you need to do, create your long-term career plan by plotting all of the necessary steps. This might include learning new software, taking night classes, earning a certification, pursuing coordinator and manager positions, joining professional associations, getting published, serving on boards, learning management skills and building a professional network that can help you. Create plans for achieving each objective and a timetable to keep you on track.
Over the years, your interests might change, your profession might go through a transformation or technology might change your entire field. Be prepared to learn new skills, change one or two steps in your plan or take a new job that offers more career than financial benefits. For example, if you have an opportunity to take a job that pays less than what you’re earning or isn’t a step up -- but gives you skills and experience needed to reach your ultimate career goal, consider making that move.
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