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Career planning is not something that you do once and then forget. Succeeding in a constantly changing workplace requires a career management plan. Employers always want to attract, hire, and retain employees who provide the best value. Think about yourself as a business with a product to sell and create a strategy for marketing your value in the workplace.

While developing your career plan, share your goals with your supervisor and gain a partner who can help you broaden your experience. Developing your talents and skills will stretch your world and enable more of your unique contribution. This, in turn, can make your career a success.

Here are 5 tips to help you develop your career path:

1. Identify Your Career Options.

Develop a refined list of career options by examining your interests, skills, and values through self-assessment. Narrow your career options by reviewing career information, researching companies, and talking to professionals in the field. You can further narrow your list when you take part in experiences such as shadowing, volunteering, and internships.

2. Prioritize.

It’s not enough to list options. You have to prioritize. What are your top skills? What interests you the most? What’s most important to you? Whether it’s intellectually challenging work, family-friendly benefits, the right location or a big paycheck, it helps to know what matters to you — and what’s a deal-breaker.

3. Set “SMART” Goals.

Now that you’ve identified your career options, develop an action plan to implement this decision. Identify specific, time-bound goals and steps to accomplish your plan. Set short-term goals (to be achieved in one year or less) and long-term goals (to be achieved in one to five years).

• Specific — Identify your goal clearly and specifically.
• Measureable — Include clear criteria to determine progress and accomplishment.
• Attainable — The goal should have a 50 percent or greater chance of success.
• Relevant and Realistic — The goal is important and relevant to you.
• Time bound — Commit to a specific timeframe.

4. Create Your Career Action Plan.

It’s important to be realistic about expectations and timelines. Write down specific action steps to take to achieve your goals and help yourself stay organized. Check them off as you complete them, but feel free to amend your career action plan as needed. Your goals and priorities may change, and that’s perfectly okay.

5. Own Your Career Path.

Career paths are recommended for the same reason that goals are recommended. They are the written plan that can help each employee take charge of what is most important to his or her fulfillment and success. Without a plan, you can feel rudderless and you have no benchmark against which you can measure your progress.

By developing your career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there. And when you are ready to develop your resume, you will have a better understanding of your skills and experiences to discuss with potential employers.

(written by: Whitney)

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