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Career Planning, Trajectory and Momentum

March 22, 2018

Businessman in slacks and tie with a beard leads the conversation with diverse group of colleagues at a conference table.

A recent survey from ManpowerGroup Inc. revealed the strongest first-quarter hiring outlook in 10 years for U.S. employers. Of more than 11,500 employers surveyed, 21 percent planned to increase staff in the first quarter of 2018. After figures are seasonally adjusted, the net employment outlook is 19 percent, making it the strongest outlook in the past decade.

The report noted positive job growth in industries like professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and wholesale and retail trade. And according to Raj Mukherjee, senior vice president of product at Indeed, “demand for tech workers continues to grow at a pace that’s unmatched in other industries,” he told ZDNet.

If you want to capitalize on these types of opportunities, you’ll need to carefully evaluate your options and formulate a plan. The following sections discuss career planning as an essential part of long-term success.

Career Path Planning

A career plan is a map for where you want to be in the future. You can formulate a plan by asking yourself three questions, according to U.S. News & World Report.

  1. Who are you? You can’t separate your values, strengths, interests and compensation from fulfillment in your career. These types of building blocks can help you understand what you want in a career. Remember to come to God in prayer for work and career concerns, just as you should for everything (Philippians 4:5). He can provide you with the wisdom you seek (James 1:5).
  2. Where are you going? Define what success means to you. Perhaps it means starting your own business or moving into a managerial role at a larger company. Or career advancement may not be a priority right now, because you’re happy with work and/or the balance it provides with your life. Consider your definition of success and how your current job and the trajectory of your career lines up with that definition.
  3. How will you get there? This step is where you can begin to develop one-, three- and five-year plans to outline the actions needed to reach your goals. Use answers from the previous questions to examine what actionable steps you can take. Consider the experiences and skills you need, as well as how networking, training or education can help you get there. What skills can you acquire or perfect? What support systems will you need? Which friends and family members can help you? Identify roadblocks and how you’ll handle them. Finally, you can write down five big goals with two or three action steps under each goal to frame a formal plan, then seek feedback from a friend or family member. You’ll be ready to start on your formal plan at that point.


Career Trajectory

Approaching career trajectory can be difficult. Staying in your current position or accepting a new role can have short- and long-term implications. As you’re plotting new roles, consider the following questions.

  • How long should you remain in your current role?
  • If you spend too little time in the position, does that negatively affect you?
  • If you spend too long in the position, does that negatively affect you?
  • Will you be able to remain within the same organization?
  • Is there opportunity for advancement within your current organization?
  • If you advance within your current organization, would it be wise to then make a lateral move to the same position within another company later?
  • How long should you remain within the same organization?
  • If you spend too little time within one organization, does that lower your ability to be hired by another company in the future?
  • If you spend too much time within one organization, does that limit your marketability to other companies?

Researching your industry and discussing options with people in it can help you determine what might be best. You may learn that it’s better to stay in your current role to develop your skills and gain additional experience in your field. Or it may be time to switch industries or accept a new role to gain exposure to a new area.

Career Momentum

Another aspect of career path planning is maintaining momentum. “It can often feel like time has accelerated and your career is running on autopilot,” according to an article from Fast Company. Battling that tendency requires you to be proactive. Here are some tips from Fast Company to stay on track.

  • Spend as much time working on yourself as your job. Developing your skills can feel empowering, even if things are going well for your current work situation. “The most important thing is to protect what goes on between your ears,” business leader John Addison told Fast Company. “You can’t control your boss; you can’t control your co-workers. You can only control you, and how you react and think.”
  • Don’t get stuck on long-term plans. Break long-term goals into shorter, strategic ones. Thinking too far in advance can cause you to feel paralyzed and can make those goals seem unattainable.
  • Know what you’re naturally good at — and focus on becoming great at it. It’s better to turn a strength into something even more powerful than it is to turn a weakness into something mediocre.
  • Remember you can’t go at it alone. Build relationships with people who can help you get ahead, mentor you, provide you with advice and/or have the career you’d like to have. The relationship isn’t about necessarily getting something from them, but because these people can help you with career planning and important decisions that you’ll confront.
  • Take actionable steps — every single day. Consider actionable things you can do. It may be a book you can read, a project you can take on or a potential mentor you can invite for coffee. These simple steps can provide the foundation for your career map.

Advancing Your Career

Education is one of the strongest ways to pursue career advancement opportunities. Grace College’s online business programs provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to positively impact an organization. Graduates are prepared for management positions, as well as entry-level and advanced roles in marketing, entrepreneurship and other business areas. These faith-based programs apply biblical values to coursework.

Grace’s fully online bachelor’s degree in business administration focuses on the skills and tools graduates need to adapt and excel in the business world. This GOAL (Grace Opportunities for Adult Learners) program is designed for students who are balancing personal commitments while pursuing an education. It is priced substantially lower than most degree completion programs and can be completed in as little as 16 months.

The fully online MBA provides students with a strong foundation in marketing, accounting, finance and human resources, as well as coursework in entrepreneurship. This program can help graduates pursue leadership opportunities in business.

The fully online master’s in nonprofit management equips students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in marketing communication, applying technology, creating and training staff, raising funds and improving efficiency within an organization.