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Planning Your Next Career Move: The Step-by-Step Guide

Career moves are more common than you might think. A quick search on Google shows that the average employee changes roles every 2-3 years.

Sometimes, you’ll make a career move to take advantage of better opportunities or a more progressive company culture. Other times, your career moves will be strategic and move you toward your long-term professional goals.

Proper planning is the key to success when making career moves.

While planning for a career move might sound daunting, there are ways to make the process easier.

Here’s a step-by-step guide you can use.

Step 1: Self-Assessment and Goal Setting

The first step in planning a career move is knowing yourself, your priorities and what you want to achieve in your career. Before you make any decisions, take the time to conduct a thorough self-assessment, looking at your:

  • Strengths: The skills, knowledge, professional qualifications and abilities contributing to your career success.
  • Development Areas: You may need to overcome knowledge gaps and issues to thrive in a new role or become more effective in your current position.
  • Values: What do you prioritise as an employee, such as flexibility or a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
  • Interests: What do you enjoy about your current role and what particular interests do you want to pursue in your career?

Having completed your self-assessment, you can begin to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals) for your career. Think about what you need to accomplish in the short term, such as acquiring new skills and what you want to aim for in the long term, such as moving into an executive-level position.

Step 2: Industry Trends and Future Outlook

With your goals in mind, you can begin exploring opportunities in your sector. Paying attention to the trends in your market makes sense for a few reasons.

First, it allows you to explore potential roles and opportunities you might not know about or have previously considered. Technological advancements and evolving market demands in many industries create new and exciting positions that may align with your skills.

Secondly, evaluating the market can give you an insight into what potential employers are looking for in your sector. For instance, in various industries, there’s an increasing demand for professionals with technical skills to address the growing “digital skills gap“.

You can stay up-to-date with current trends by reading industry journals and joining forums or professional associations.

Step 3: Skill Development and Continuous Learning

For many professionals, a career move won’t just be an opportunity to move into a new business or earn a higher salary. It’s also about the possibility of taking on new responsibilities and positions that push you towards your long-term career goals.

To boost your chances of successfully applying for a new role and attracting the attention of employers, you may need to consider building your skillset and looking for new ways to demonstrate your value with courses and certifications. Critically, on-the-job opportunities to demonstrate and apply the enhanced skills that can give you a competitive edge.

Identify your current skill gaps, look at the “development areas” you noticed during your self-assessment and then look for ways to improve.

Remember, once you’ve bridged your skill gaps, it’s worth investing in continuous education and improvement. Constant learning will pave the way for new opportunities and ensure you remain competitive in your field.

Step 4: Networking and Professional Relationships

Networking is one of the most important things all professionals should be investing in throughout their careers. Networking can be extremely valuable for career planning, helping you discover new industry trends and learn from innovative peers.

The right networking strategy will also help you build a broad support circle of mentors, industry contacts and peers who can give you an edge when applying for new positions. In today’s world, there are countless ways to explore networking, from participating in professional organisation events to joining groups on LinkedIn.

Focus on building connections with people in your industry who can help you understand your industry and make progress towards your goals. Mentors can assist you in finding and applying for roles you might not be able to discover on your own.

Step 5: Gaining Experience and Building a Portfolio

Often, before you can take the next crucial step towards your career goals, you’ll need to gain experience. Many employers today, value a candidate’s experience as much or more than their educational accomplishments.

In some cases, you may be able to gain more experience in your existing role. You could take on additional projects and responsibilities or shadow other team members. Alternatively, you may look for external ways to build experience, from participating in internships to volunteer work.

Strategically select opportunities that align with your career goals, help you fill your experience gaps and develop a portfolio outlining your experiences.

Your portfolio can help showcase your achievements to potential employers alongside your CV or social media profiles.

Step 6: Personal Branding and Online Presence

Finally, a strong personal brand is essential whether you’re planning on moving to a new company or hoping for a promotion from your current employer. Your brand is a culmination of all the various assets and resources you use to showcase your value to potential employers and clients.

This includes your portfolio (mentioned above), your CV, the cover letters you use in job applications and even your social media presence.

Assess your online presence if you haven’t worked on your brand before. Ask yourself what employers will see when they search for you on LinkedIn or type your name into Google.

Think about how you can enhance your LinkedIn profile with evidence of your experience, or consider building a website to showcase your skills.

Plan Your Next Career Move the Right Way

While career moves are common in any industry, it’s easy to make the wrong decisions for your professional life without the right approach to planning. Taking a proactive approach and developing a strategy for success with the above steps is crucial.

Every time you choose to take another step in your career, use this guide as a reference to ensure you’re setting the right goals and taking valuable steps towards unlocking new opportunities in your industry. Remember, a dedicated recruitment agency can also provide additional help and guidance specific to your career needs.

Kind regards

Neil Scarborough – Managing Director

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition, and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for almost a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top tier candidates. If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email neil@therecruitingoffice.co.uk

Further Reading:

Staying Motivated in Your Current Role: 6 Strategies That Work
Why Developing Your Personal Brand is a Good idea This Year