These days, it’s not unusual for people to take several different career paths during their lifetime. While our grandparents and great-grandparents might be doing virtually the same job at the same company for their whole working life, today we tend to be a little more mobile.
But switching careers or roles isn’t as simple as making the decision. In this guide, you’ll learn how to map out a career strategy so you can make the move smoothly.
Why Create a Career Path?
There are several reasons why you might want to think about creating a career strategy to tweak or change your career.
When you think about your career timeline, it can be important to feel that you're always moving forward, hitting milestones at regular interviews so that there's measurable progress on the path you've chosen. Mapping your career path or setting out a career vision board can help you keep on track.
Another reason people choose different career paths is because things are changing in their industry and they want to get involved in new developments. For example, many people are taking the skills they already have to work on projects related to web3 and the metaverse.
Creating a vision board for your career can also happen because you want to have a sense of direction as you take different roles and jobs. Instead of letting things happen willy-nilly, mapping out a clear career path can give you a welcome sense of control.
And of course, it can be useful to map out your career strategy if you're planning a change. besides simply seeking new opportunities, there are a few reasons why people change careers:
- Boredom: the feeling that there's nothing left to learn and no further prospect of promotion.
- Unhappiness, which can have many causes.
- It's also not unusual to train for a career and suddenly realize that you're doing completely the wrong thing.
In all three cases, making an exit involves planning a different career path.
What Is a Career Strategy Map? Types of Career Paths
A career strategy map sets out where you are in your career, where you need to be, and the steps to get there. There are a couple of types of career paths:
- the career ladder
- the personal career path
The career ladder is often a tool mapping out paths for progression within a company. It can include a career timeline for the different steps you want to take.
For example, in a legal or medical career, there are clearly defined roles you can fill at different points in your career. That applies in many companies, too, enabling you to map your path from something like an internship to being part of the leadership of the company.
Once you know what the possible steps are, mapping them out with an ideal timeline forms your career ladder.
There's also the personal path. You may have a career vision board of what you'd like to do and achieve during your working life. This might involve taking different roles and learning different skills across multiple companies. Again, you can map this out. Highlight the skills you need to learn, the roles you need, and the companies you need to work with to achieve your ultimate goal.
How to Plan a Career Path
There are several steps to take so you can map out your future career timeline:
1. Know Your Personality and Skills
A good starting point is self-awareness, so you'll need to know what works for you and what skills you have. Personality tests can help you figure out key traits and what kinds of careers suit your personality best. Of course, they're only a guide, but they can be helpful.
Similarly, skills tests can help establish whether you've got the skills you need for a particular career path. It's also important to know how you prefer to work and learn.
All of these can help you visualize an empowering and achievable career path.
2. Talk to Colleagues and Managers
Next, talk to your colleagues and managers. If you're thinking about a shift in careers, the people that are already working with you can be a good source of encouragement, or a needed reality check. They may well be able to support you in achieving your career goals. They may even suggest opportunities you haven't yet considered.
Take the time to have those conversations. They could be crucial!
3. Identify Internal or External Goals
Once you've got an idea of your personality, skills, and strengths, it's time to refine your initial thoughts into the goals that you want to reach, either within your current company or within your career as a whole. Make a note of these and work out the smaller steps that'll help you achieve each goal. Don't be afraid to set up a career vision board to provide more focus on your intentions for your career.
4. Flesh Out the Next Steps
Next, it's time to take action. In some cases, this means letting people know you're interested in an opportunity. But it could also mean figuring out what skills you need to develop next and adding this into your plan. In other words, it's about getting specific with your career goals.
5. Get the Necessary Qualifications or Knowledge
Sometimes, moving up in your career means acquiring more skills or knowledge, or taking extra certifications or qualifications. Whether it's a case of book learning or working with the right people, it's time to make sure you get the grounding you need to take the next step on your career path.
6. Work on Relevant Projects
Within a corporate setting, there's often the opportunity to work on a particular project that helps bring your skills and knowledge to the fore and bring you to the attention of those who can promote you. If you can, identify and volunteer for those projects and get some necessary more experience under your belt. This will be very useful, whether you're continuing to work internally or planning to move outside to make the next step on your career path.
7. Find a Mentor or Mentors
Mentorship is useful as part of progressing along your chosen career path. It's hard to build a career alone and sometimes you're going to need help.
Identify people who are where you want to be or can help you to get there and meet with them regularly and get their advice. They may be pleased to give you the kind of help they wish they had had, and will take pride in your success, too. Make a point of absorbing all the knowledge you can from them as you move forward in your career.
8. Move to the Next Point on Your Path and Repeat
By the time you've done all this you'll hopefully have moved to the next point in your career path, got a promotion, or moved to a new and more suitable. From now on, it's a case of repeating these steps to learn and grow as you continue to move forward along your chosen career path.
Career Change Tips
If your path involves a career change, here are some strategies to use:
- Identify the skills and knowledge that you'll need for your chosen career. The likelihood is that even if you're changing your career completely, you'll have acquired skills and knowledge that'll be useful in your next role.
- Match those skills and resumes to the requirements for your new role and highlight them on your resume. Writing the right kind of resume that focuses on achievements and skills is going to help you move to the next step.
- Then it's time to fill in any gaps with any necessary training or studying. You can also find a mentor who can smooth your transition to this new career.
- Finally, give your resume a road test and start applying.
3 Career Change Examples
Wondering how successful you can be in changing your career path? Find inspiration in these three career change examples:
1. Marketing to Software Engineer
Katharina Papke was working at an agency handling strategic communications. It soon became clear that marketing and PR weren't her passion. She found her new career as a software engineer through a mentoring program and followed that up with a new degree in computer science before moving to a new firm to work on machine learning, among other things.
2. Finance to HR
Amanda Corrado was a finance analyst at a major global finance company. She soon realized she didn't have a passion for number crunching, and changed to a career in recruitment where she works on creating a positive experience for her company's candidates.
3. Podiatry to Accounting
Karishma Mehta had a degree in podiatry before realizing she wasn't in the right career. She made a U-turn from a medical career to a business one, getting a new qualification in accounting.
Get the Right Resume For Your Next Career Move
If you're thinking about a career change, you're going to need a new resume. If you want to create an eye-catching resume quickly, save yourself time and effort by grabbing one of the well-designed resume templates from Envato Elements.
With these premium templates, you won't have to stress about resume formatting, and whether you've included the right elements - everything you need to create a great resume is included. Plus, Envato Elements has a great deal: download as many resume templates as you want, for one low price. It's a great way to get a head start on applying for your next role!
Learn More About Career Development
Ready to learn more about envisioning your ideal career? Check out these career development articles and resume tips from Envato Tuts+:
- Creating a Long-Term Career Plan for Your Future in 2022Gary M. Stern13 Dec 2021
- Uncover Your Ideal Job With Informational Interviews in 2022David Masters14 Dec 2021
- How to Get a Raise (or Promotion)—Even in Tough Economic Times (+Video)Terri Williams09 May 2022
- How to Write a Summary of Accomplishments on Your Resume (Not Just List Duties)Charley Mendoza07 Nov 2022
- How to Make Your Resume Better With Keywords & PhrasesCharley Mendoza27 Dec 2021
Start Your New Career Today!
Mapping out a career path or creating a career vision board can be the first step in creating the career you want. In this guide, we've shared tips on preparing to take different career paths, as well as inspiration from folks who have done it.
And don't forget to update your resume - you can speed up the process with premium templates from Envato Elements. Now you're all set to embark on a new career path today!