When was the last time you had a career development plan?
Most jobseekers who joined the workforce during the 60s, 70s or 80s remember sitting down with their managers once a year to work on a career development plan. That was when you started your career with one company and planned to stay there for 30 or more years. I started my career in the late 1970s working for IBM – and I did not appreciate the value of doing those plans back then. Those days are over now.
I was recently asked about the value of creating career development plans for those of us who are in the second half of our working lives. Our employers no longer get invested in our career development. After all, the average employee stays 4.4 years. So, who cares? Hopefully, your clients do.
A version of this blog was originally published on the Career Pivot website and has been reprinted with permission.
Baby Boomer career development plan
Given that they can’t rely on employers to walk them through it, I help jobseekers create their own career development plan. You will see at the end of this post why this should look like a business development plan rather than a traditional career development plan. Here is the process I take my clients through, based on some key guiding questions.
What do you want?
The first question to address is, what do you want to do in your career and life? For many of us, what we wanted at the beginning and the middle of our career is no longer valid. What I now want in life is highly correlated with what I want out of my career.
Answering this question can be very hard. We rarely have thought about what we want to do versus what employers will be willing to pay us to do.
If you plan on working into your 70s, now is the time to create a career development plan that will get you there.
What is the direction of your industry?
The second question is what direction is the industry heading? Creative destruction is playing havoc with so many industries.
You need to keep track of the pulse of your industry. What are the strategic directions? How do trends in your industry correlate with what you want to do? If they do not match up, you may need to go back to step one or look at a different industry or career path.
Things are changing so fast; you do not want to end up in a career disaster area like a few my clients landed in at the age of 65.
For many of us in the second half of life, what we did in the past no longer aligns with what we want to do in the future. We just need to make sure our industry outlasts our plans to transition out.
The third question is, what skills do you currently have and what skills do you need to acquire? Many of us in the second half of our work life did not think we needed to acquire any more skills.
Boy, were we wrong! Technology is changing the world at an incredible pace and no one can afford to ignore the ways it’s morphing the work world.
You are probably saying to yourself, “I need to go back to school and get another college degree.” NOPE. For most of us, that will be a money pit. (Read my post – College Degree After 50 – Worth It? – and make sure you check out the comments, which are quite fascinating.)
Start looking at online training, certifications and other forms of online learning.
The fourth question is, what skills do you want to leave behind? Many of us have acquired skills that are not tied to our talents.
Just because we are good at something does not mean we have to continue to use that skill. There will be times when we just want to leave things behind.
Promoting your personal brand
The fifth question is, how do you integrate these new skills into your online presence (LinkedIn profile, blog, Twitter feed, etc.), your resume and your personal brand? How are we going to advertise and actively promote our newly acquired skills? A good place to start is to create a blog to share your interests and expertise. Some people take this to the next level and write a book, which you can self-published today at a very reasonable cost. (Russ Eanes, a member of the Career Pivot online community has done this and has started a business helping others do the same.)
Writing the plan
This final step is the new piece of your career development plan. How is anyone going to know that you know your stuff?
Many of us in the second half of life are leaving the corporate world and entering the world of entrepreneurship. If you’re one of them, you absolutely have to add the promotion step to your career development plan.
Essentially, you are moving away from writing a career development plan and working on a business development plan.
The business is YOU!
When you start looking at what you do as a business rather than being an employee, the plan changes.
What guidance do you offer to clients navigating career development in the second half of life? Share in the comments below.
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