How To Come Up With A Solid Action Plan To Guide Your Next Career Move
So, you feel like you have come to a plateau in your professional life – your day-to-day tasks start feeling monotonous, you feel stifled, and you start to wonder if this is all there is to your career.
No, of course it’s not – you get the obvious answer. You start longing for greener pastures, where new opportunities and challenges await; and as you dwell longer in this on-and-off existential crisis (or when you’re triggered by an inconvenience at work, whichever comes first), you finally decide it’s time for a change.
Before you start Googling resignation letter templates or going on a job-hunting spree; do spare some time to chart this next crucial course of yours.
1. Reflect on what you want.
At the tipping point of a career change, most people can easily identify what they dislike – they dislike a boring 9-5 job, company politics, long working hours, etc etc etc. Here’s the question – do they actually know what exactly makes them dislike those things?
Flexible working hours may sound great to some people – but if you’re not disciplined enough, you don’t get much done. Office politics are dramatic and unnecessary, but they exist in almost every company that has driven employees (on a side note, the sooner you get the hang of it, the better). Also, are you 100% certain that your new place will not have longer working hours?
Instead of basing what you want on your current set of dislikes, try reflecting on what exactly you are seeking in your career journey; if you’re not sure how to start, perhaps a set of prompts can help! It is also important to keep in mind that every want comes with a set of ‘sacrifices’, the word is quoted because they are only sacrifices if it is something you give up begrudgingly for something you hate, but if you are giving up something secondary for a goal you have set for yourself, it’s just a price you had to pay, not a sacrifice.
2. Update your resume.
Now that you have a clear list of goals that you want to achieve for the sake of your personal fulfilment, let’s take a look at the means of getting there.
Here’s where your resume or portfolio comes in. There will always be a set of requirements for the next step in your career, and an updated list of skill sets and experiences will help you see if you tick all the boxes.
Not only that, but it also gives you a clearer view of what you lack. This supports your decision to make a career change if where you’re headed next actually helps you fill the gaps in your existing skill sets.
Once you have had your experiences, technical, and soft skills in order; you can now move on to the next course of action.
3. Decide your move.
There are several directions you can take depending on your reflection – as a result of Point 1, and your observations – as a result of Point 2 (that is, if you’re taking my suggestions seriously 🥲).
- Vertical Move
In other words, climbing the career ladder. If, after reflecting and realising you do like what you’re currently doing, but it’s not much of a challenge anymore (and let’s be real here, you also want an improved lifestyle which requires a higher pay), you may want to consider requesting for a promotion which allows you to handle more intellectually stimulating tasks. Of course, you’ll have to do your due diligence by having your achievements in the company to support your request.
- Horizontal Move
A lateral move across departments is also a possibility. When you have decided that you have had enough experience in your current department, and you find that the job scopes do not fit your strengths or working style, perhaps try speaking to your manager or superior about a possible shift to another department that might suit you more.
Moving across departments and starting as a beginner again may seem like an unwise decision in the short run, especially in the face of a possible promotion if you’ve worked long enough and meet the qualifications. However, in the long run, you’d have a more holistic understanding of the company, something your peers may not have, and that actually increases your chances of a future promotion to a better or higher position (think General Manager of the Company instead of Department Manager).
- Jumping to Another Company
Alas, if you find that a different industry and working culture is where you want to go, I trust that the decision was made with all the factors pondered on deliberately. If you decide to take the leap of faith into a new place altogether, keep in mind the importance of leaving your current job on good terms, as well as certain things to look out for during your job hunt.
4. Get a third-party opinion.
Lastly, do not bank such a big decision on your knowledge alone. Be it a confidant, your superior, or even people in your eventual department or industry, it helps to have someone shed some objective light on your situation.
I consider this the last step because ultimately, the decision is yours to make. So, to avoid having other people’s opinions sway you, I think it is important to first think about it for yourself, and then gather the thoughts of someone else
I would like to end this with a kind reminder that your professional life may bring you a sense of fulfilment and security but be careful not to have that determine your identity or your worth.
Whatever your next move may be, small or big – it is still progress, and it is something to be proud of.