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How to set a career plan and secure your dream job

13/11/2019
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When asked how they got the career they’re in, we’ve all heard people reply “I sort of just fell into it.” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. Often people take an entry level role just to get some experience, pay the bills or get on the ladder - in other words, taking the job they can get instead of the job they want. And that job leads to another in the same field, or a promotion in the same company, and soon they’re following a career path that they never intended to begin. 

It’s not a bad thing - it can lead many to great successes and introduce people to roles and skills that they may not previously have considered. But if you have a dream job that you still hope to reach one day, you can’t always rely on following the path you land on. You need to have a plan.

These are the four steps you need to take to create a career plan that will lead you to your dream job.

Start by identifying your dream job before you make plans for achieving it
(Image via Pexels)

1. Identify your end goal

Think about what your dream job would be, and what it would take to make it achievable. Try to be realistic without being pessimistic (running a billion dollar organisation, for example, is - for most of us - a fairly unrealistic goal. But starting your own business, despite requiring an exceptional amount of vision, dedication and hard work, is more achievable).

Find out everything you can about this job - what qualifications you might need, what skills it uses, what’s required to do it successfully - and look at examples of people who already work at it, and find out what they did to get there.

Be critical of the job and ensure it’s definitely a goal you want.

Figure out which skills, which experiences are most beneficial towards your ultimate goal, and what you're missing
(Image via Pexels)

2. Self-assess

Once you know where you want to go, you have to assess where you are. Consider your experience so far - in your past jobs, in education and in any other projects or hobbies you’ve done outside work. Make a list of all your soft skills and hard skills:

Soft skills - general attributes that can be applied across any discipline, eg. Creativity, public speaking, time management, persuasion, problem solving.

Hard skills - qualifications and technical knowledge that can help you in a specific area, eg. degrees/diplomas, engineering skills, systems knowledge, health and safety training.

Essentially you’re putting together a CV just for yourself, so you can take an in depth look into your own work experience and skills. Be honest and include everything, even if it doesn’t immediately seem relevant. Once you’ve done this you can assess it. What attributes in your list will help you on your path to your dream job, and what skills gaps or weaknesses do you need to address?

Start making changes to build up the right skills or take steps towards working in the industry you're interested in
(Image via Shutterstock)

3. Identify your next steps

Now comes the point when you determine what you need to achieve the job of your dreams. You already know where the gaps in your experience are, so you need to plan the steps that will help you fill in those gaps and put you on the right course. 

These initial steps are not going to take you directly into your dream job, but are going to build towards it in stages.

Your next steps could be anything from starting a course to build up your education or qualifications as required, or making a lateral move in your current job to take on other responsibilities that would give you some extra experience beyond your current field.

The next steps could be seeking out advice from others in your desired industry, or attending events and networking to build up some useful contacts.

Or they could of course be updating your CV and reaching out to new opportunities.

Make a comprehensive plan filled with achievable targets
(Image via Pexels)

4. Lay out your five-year goals

Once you’ve taken your first steps on your new career path, it’s time to map out the rest of it. Say you’ve started a new course to gain a necessary qualification - what are you planning to do after that? Will the qualification help you get a boost in the right direction in your current job, or will you seek out graduate schemes and other opportunities? If you’re networking, how do you plan on keeping in touch with your new contacts and what benefits do you hope to gain from them? 

Remember: it’s much easier to achieve a series of small steps than to only focus on the bigger goal. So make a plan for the next five years following the same process that led you to formulate your first steps. Set milestones you hope to achieve and the actions you can take after each one. 

Not everyone achieves their dream job, but by making a comprehensive plan with achievable targets will help you set your own career path and secure your goals.

Make a plan filled with small achievements to help put yourself on the right path towards your dream job
(Image via Pexels)

Make a specialist recruitment firm part of your career plan

Register with Fircroft today to keep up with all the latest job opportunities for engineering and technical professionals around the world.

Tags: Engineering
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