5 Tips on How to Plan Your Career Path

When you think of how you want your dream life to be in the future, a chunk of that fantasy depends on your career.

The big house, the fancy car, the great salary and corner office. All of that requires planning to achieve.

So what are you doing to plan your career path?

If you currently have no career plans or only have a general idea of what you want to do with your life, you’ve got some work to do.

The good news is that career planning isn’t as daunting as it sounds. In all honesty, it should be enjoyed because planning is an ongoing process.

Keep scrolling for handy tips to keep in mind as you go about planning your career path.

READ ALSO: 5 Emerging Careers in 2014


Tip #1: Figure out what you’d love to get paid to do

The newest members of the workforce are facing a big problem.

Many of the jobs that used to offer job security and a decent salary are going away – many of them being replaced by machines and computer applications.

It’s no longer a good idea to base your career aspirations only on jobs that pay well.

Knowing the uncertainty of the job market is even more reason to pursue a career you’ll actually enjoy and want to do every day. To find a job you’ll enjoy, you need to ask yourself three simple questions:

1. What do I love to do?

2. What am I good at doing?

3. Can I get paid to do those things?
Somewhere in there lies a career path just for you.


Tip #2: Connect with people who are doing what you want to do

Think back to your first school report, when you learned about primary sources. They are the best source of information on ANY topic.

Your career path is no exception.

Talking to people who already have experience in your career of interest is the best way to find out how to become successful in that career field.

Seasoned workers know the tricks of the trade. Many are willing to part with that information if they see your genuine interest in their career.

Social networking websites make it easy to build relationships with people who can help you navigate well on your career path. Enhancing your LinkedIn background summary is a great place to start!


Tip #3: Get as much experience as possible

Learning from others about an interesting career path is important. But it’s even more important that you experience what the position is really like.

You can do that three ways:

  1. intern
  2. volunteer
  3. shadow

The opportunities are all around you.

Some are posted on job boards. Other opportunities are hidden and referral-only (another benefit of following Tip #2 about connecting with experienced workers in your field).

Whatever it takes, you need to get a real idea of what you’d like to do rather than continuing to fantasize about how the life would be.

Having real-life experience in a position confirms whether you would really like to pursue a career in that direction. Once you’re sure, you can focus on finding a long-term home to build your career in that field.


Tip #4: Keep your eyes peeled for opportunity

The best way to spot opportunity is to stay on the lookout for it.

Establish in your mind a very specific idea of how your career should be and then keep your eyes open for the opportunities to appear.

This does not mean anything will be magically granted to you without any work. But if you always know what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find a way to get it.

When you know what you want, you can avoid an overwhelming job search because you’re not blindly out there just reaching for any job offer.


Tip #5: Know how to present yourself

With or without experience, your presentation plays a big part in getting you started in any career field.

Presentation includes:

  • career documents
  • social media presence
  • interviewing skills


Career documents

Your cover letter, resume and portfolio are important for letting employers know how you can be a valuable asset to their company.

It’s important to take your time and make the most of these documents. You only get one shot to impress them in a way that catches the employer’s attention.

Tons of websites, tutorials, courses, tools and apps help with your career documents. Do your part to make sure you know how to put each of these documents together well.


Social media presence

This is something you should always pay attention to. It’s your brand.

You can have the best resume in the world, but if an employer googles your name and sees you doing something that would misrepresent their company, you probably won’t get the job.

As mentioned before, social media is a great way to start building the connections necessary to help you move along your career path.


Interviewing skills

You can make a thorough career plan, but if you don’t know how to talk yourself into a position, your career path might be a bit more bumpy than anticipated.

A simple search on YouTube like, “how to ace an interview,” yields more than enough results to help you get your interview act together.

If you can keep these tips in mind, planning your career path becomes less of an assignment and more of a daily exercise that you can enjoy. In the end, all of it comes together to help you achieve that dream life you think about every night in bed.

What steps are you taking toward planning out your career path? Tell us about it in the comments section below.