Let me start this valuable Nugget by stating my opinion.

If you were to ask 100 knowledge workers, people like yourself, “How much time do you invest in building and revitalizing your CAREER PLAN each year?”, my intuition tells me that 99% would answer, “What’s a career plan?”

Whether or not you are confident that you have survived, or will survive, layoffs, and, thereby have secure employment for a while longer, you should be building a stronger foundation at work for your own career. Make a career plan and work it aggressively.

For those of you who are not familiar with a career plan, it simply is a WRITTEN statement of your strategy, (your plan), for strengthening your skills sets and experiences to make yourself a more valuable and more qualified employee while pursuing your job ambitions. This requires solid, realistic assessments across a number of areas:

  1. An ambition statement, your wish list. Some counsellors call this a mission statement. I think the term mission statement is too confusing. Instead, the term ambition statement is easier to grasp. What’s your career ambition, what do you want to achieve within 5 years? Write out the scope of responsibilities, approximate income, certifications, reputation, and anything else which you believe may be relevant to your desires and ambitions.
  2. Now give it a “SWOT“. Document your SWOT on a separate sheet of paper or in a separate file. SWOT is an acronym for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat. What do you like? What are you good at? What are your strengths that are of value to your employer? What do you dislike? What are you weak at that might affect yoru employer? What opportunities can you explore given your existing experiences, qualifications, and knowledge? What opportunities can you tackle if you were to reshape yourself? What barriers or threats must you overcome? What’s the competition like?
  3. ROI. In investment circles investors look to Return On Investment, (ROI), as one of the tools to prioritize the desirability of various financial instruments. Companies do something similar for ranking and allocating employees to various career paths. Companies will prioritize their employees to determine those who are likely to give the corporation the greatest return on their investment of time, resources, mentoring and coaching. For the ROI analysis, answer this question, “How can I broaden my knowledge and experiences to make myself much more valuable to the corporation?” That’ll be your ROI action plan.
  4. ROE. Repeat for ROE, (Return on Equity). Here, ROE analysis requires a similar exercise as ROI, but strictly on yourself, from your own viewpoint, not from the employer’s viewpoint. Answer this question, “What can I do to build my own future value to myself which will make me more valuable to the company while making me the happiest and most fulfilled?”
  5. Create your own PR campaign. Get the word out. This may mean stepping up your personal “PR” campaign within your existing company. It may mean stepping up your company-related extra-curricular activities. It may mean seeking your own unofficial mentors and coaches. It may mean strengthening your network or joining with others on teams of your own choosing in addition to company assigned responsibilities.
  6. Tempo matters.  As a knowledge worker you may assume that being in the same position for quite a long time adds credibility and value to your employment record and “advertises” your “loyalty”. But it may not be so. Investigate the industry, that is, look beyond your own company, to determine the industry standard for the length of time employees out there remain in a job similar to yours. If the industry standard is approximately 2 years and you are going on year 7, then, “Houston, we have a problem”.
  7. Analyze the degree of stability of your corporate “system”. Knowledge workers sometimes forget to look at the system within which they work or aspire to. Limitations are often imposed by, or upgrades to skills mandated by, the world in which you work. This rings true especially when new MANAGEMENT is brought in. Do you fit that new, changed world around you? Must you change something or acquire new skill sets to fit the new environment or new management expectations?