Career Planning – tips

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  • Career Planning – tips
  • DT78

    Does anyone have a career plan?  regularly sit down review and have goals etc..?

    So far I have just gone for what seems to be a promotion with the view to earn / learn more.  Have done reasonably well until SMgmt, and now I’m just rattling around at the same level.

    Just had the ‘well what do you want to do’ question asked….and ‘what do you enjoy’.  Earning more money and riding my bike, whilst truthful probably aren’t the type of answer that helps.

    I don’t really have a plan, I know what I’m good at (not necessarily the same as what I enjoy)

    Any models people recommend ?  useful books to read?


    Nope, never had one and every sort of career idea I had in the past never came to fruition. As I see it life is a series of random opportunities, most of which you don’t notice and some of which you do. Of those you do notice, most you decide to ignore and of the remaining few – well that is your life / career path!

    I don’t have a plan or know what I’m good at so you’re one step ahead of me. Really don’t enjoy my job and would love a change, a challenge and to do something genuinely worthwhile. Are you thinking of  a complete change OP? If so, it might be worth mapping out how to take that initial step. Sorry I can’t be of more use.

    Just had the ‘well what do you want to do’ question asked….and ‘what do you enjoy’. Earning more money and riding my bike, whilst truthful probably aren’t the type of answer that helps.

    I think this a reasonable answer.

    I was once asked what I wanted to do. My answer was “be successful”.

    The next question was “how would you measure your success? My answer, “If my pay packet is bigger than it was last year, I would consider that a success”

    Hob Nob

    My career plan is earn as much as possible for as little effort as possible & get out at the earliest opportunity. Absolutely not what an employer wants to hear, but I show them zero loyalty, because I know when the chips are down they will be exactly the same with anyone in the business.

    I sit at a dept head/senior management level & have no real desires to go any higher. Yes the money would be lovely, but the additional workload & stress that goes with it? No thanks. To be honest, the thought of ‘working’ like this for another 30 years, is pretty uninspiring.

    Trying my best to do something over the next few years which will mean I don’t have to be that person.


    Does anyone have a career plan?

    Yes. Do as little as possible for as much as possible.

    My career plan is earn as much as possible for as little effort as possible

    If this were the plan, I be killing it right now. But trust me, doing nothing for 8 hours a day is like a prison sentence!


     sit at a dept head/senior management level & have no real desires to go any higher. Yes the money would be lovely, but the additional workload & stress that goes with it? No thanks.

    This. Having recently been given a shed load more responsibility for equally more salary, I’m very doubtful I’d actually want to progress any higher. If there was a sweet spot it was probably where I was positioned previously, as I seemed to have ample time but far less stress.

    A new bike might change that though.

    Premier Icon johnjn2000

    I find it a hard thing to do, have just recently had to put together a IDP for work and struggled TBH. In the end I looked at what i enjoy most, at the moment, and chose to try and develop in that area and see what it brings. Put in for a professional qualification as well to validate the direction on a CV when the time comes and I have to move on.

    An area that did work for me when trying to figure this out was listing all the things that currently meant I wasn’t looking elsewhere, and those things that would turn my head from another potential employer. The lists fell in favour of my current employer and I was surprised to find that if I was forced to leave, the thing I would look for in my next job wasn’t the money.

    I guess the point of this ramble is to say that maybe look at what you want to achive from a work/life balance in the future and then tailor your career plan to that. If working from home is a desire then a job in a shop isn’t going to deliver that, you know the sort of thing.


    I’m lucky that I enjoy my work, every year (and at random intervals in-between) I get asked how I want to progress. I don’t, I’m happy in what I do, get paid enough (ok more is always better) and leave it all behind when I walk out the door.

    Why would I want to add complications to that??


    Just been reading this…seems useful


    Career planning is bollocks IMO and IME. I’ve never looked beyond about 5 years tops (ie contract duration). Mind you maybe that’s why I never got anywhere in my career!


    Just been reading this…seems useful

    I do like this..

    [url=]Ikagai[/url] by Ben Freeman, on Flickr

    Premier Icon orangespyderman

    A 3-5 year plan can be useful.  The important part, in my opinion, is to be very honest about the gaps between what you’re good at now and what you’d need to be good at to be where you want to go.  My experience is that this is too often overlooked, glossed over or done somewhat dishonestly (whether intentionally or just through bias), but is the only reason why a plan can be useful.  They can be technical skills, soft skills, personality traits (not necessarily to change but to be aware of your default behaviours, how they fit into your work and which ones you need to adjust to overcome traits that are neutral or a hindrance).

    It’s quite reasonable that your plan is to ride bikes more and earn more money, but the two are probably not compatible unless you’re really good at it.  If earn more money is the objective (and why wouldn’t it be?) I would also factor in some research on how your current package looks compared to alternative jobs (either internally or externally).  If riding your bike is more important than the money then I think you should be honest about that too, because that would probably drive a more status quo plan than a big change plan.  Nothing wrong with being honest about it (at least with yourself, if sharing with management you might want to word it more diplomatically than “I just want to hang around here, treading water to do just enough to keep me in the good books but still bunking off as early as possible”).  If you have recently changed positions then a perfectly valid plan may be the skills gap between you in the position you’re in as a recent promote and where you see the role, your department etc heading in 5 years time.

    I don’t think it’s bollocks, but neither is it a silver bullet nor absolutely indispensable.


    “I just want to hang around here, treading water to do just enough to keep me in the good books but still bunking off as early as possible”

    That is basically my plan for the next 15 years or so. Not sure the company will last that long though….


    I have a detailed life plan, which took/takes a bit of work, starting with my personal values, visions, and broken down to long-term goals, within which something related to ‘career plan’ exists I suppose, but can probably be more realistically described as a career escape plan, and it’s on track. My employer/employment fits around my life plan, not the other way around.

    Forget the notion of a career, and start with planning the self…what makes you happy and fulfilled, and then from that derive direction and purpose. Just staying right where you are in an imaginary career ladder is just fine if it brings fulfilment and more importantly serves to move you forwards in other aspects of your life. Therefore no career plan needed.

    what makes you happy and fulfilled

    I need to find a job that involves monetising eating and sleeping.


    Am I alone in not being entirely sure what makes me happy full stop?  The default answer is kids, which I love to bits, but can I say I’m happy when I’m with them for much of the time, for a small % of time yes the rest is spent running around after them cleaning up / trying to entertain them / keep them fed etc…

    Maximising £ per hour, including travel time, is important but I also need to feel some sense of challenge and achievement – that Ikigai grid sums up my current role – comfortable but feeling of emptiness.  I just could not sit there doing nothing or largely pointless but pays well.

    Has anyone experienced an employer actually taking action and supporting them in their career plan?  I’m all for giving it a go if it potentially leads to something.

    Premier Icon w00dster

    Probably off-topic but I’m with Hob Nob on this. My job sucks. Ridiculous hours, incredibly tough deadlines with huge penalties imposed on the end client that will lead to legal action if we fail. So massive pressure and focus on me and my team from the Senior Management of a very large financial services organisation.

    Unfortunately I’ve got no real choice but to see it through until middle of next year.

    For me I followed my career plan, I’m doing the job I always thought I wanted. But the grass isn’t very green over here. I made the mistake of following the money, thinking that would make me happy. So I moved up the management chain, earned well, but the job itself sucks. Pretty much doing a 50 hour week and at least 45 of those I’m wishing I was elsewhere. Not good or healthy I know.

    I’d recommend that your career plan isn’t focused so much on career, but more on you and your life. What do you want from your life? Being well paid (in Middle Management terms) isn’t anything inspiring or motivational after a few years of being there and wearing the battle scars. I envy people who have jobs working outdoors, parks trust type jobs, I even envy the guys working in Costa or the likes. Unfortunately going down the career path, can lead you into a position where you have a mortgage representative of your income, your family are used to certain things that your career allows. But ultimately you may be in a position where you are stuck in your career for a while.

    Very negative way of saying don’t do the mistake I made and think career just meant more money. As Peter Parker’s dad said, with more money comes more responsibility……(and more responsibility can mean more stress, more people to manage, more time working, less time with family and less time riding) (Ps…I know he didn’t say that!)

    Premier Icon johnjn2000

    Love that Ikigai diagram, I am definitely in the excitement(TBH a bit strong, maybe mildly excited sometimes) and uncertainty box. Now how do i get myself into the middle………..

    Premier Icon dazh

    They’re big on career plans at my place. When my boss asked me ‘what do you want to be in 10 years’ I don’t think he was too impressed when I said ‘retired’. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my ‘career’ it’s that careers are for people who are either very lucky and do what they love as a job, or they’re window dressing designed to fool people that what they do as a day job is more important and fulfilling than it actually is. The vast majority of us do stuff that bores us with people we don’t like in exchange for money. That’s about it I think.

    If just earning more is the amibition – which is a perfectly good goal – then just move jobs every 2-3 years, or if the role suits, go self-employed and play the contract market.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy

    We have a graduate recruitment program where I work and they all seem focused and driven but I can’t help thinking they’re probably actually like the people who appear on The Apprentice, all front, bluff and little substance. I can’t believe anyone in their early 20’s really wants to be a business analyst or junior PM but I guess maybe. The fact they’ve already spent more on designer suits, shoes and shirts than I probably have on non-designer equivalents my whole career is something I’m not sure if I should admire (investing in themselves etc.) or just treat as more evidence of style over substance.

    Personally I’ve never really planned anything with my career, fell into IT initially as liked computers (mostly games though which is a bit different to the reality of most IT jobs :p ). Ended up in a combined 4GL programming/ DEC VAX operator role, hated the programming bit but was OK with the operator stuff. Moved to a new company role as a Windows support/misc. IT role and 20-odd years later still with the same company but now a tech architect. I miss the hands on stuff though (and have always hated documentation which is most of my job these days), to stay at my salary and move to a hands-on role I’d either need to go contracting or at least get certs and experience in cloud/RPA/containers/what-ever-the-latest-buzz-is stuff and I can’t be arsed doing training/certs anymore (training is OK but unless you get to use it straight away I soon forget most of it these days…).

    So now kinda just treading water until retirement (15 years left argh) hoping no one notices I haven’t drunk the company kool-aid and just care about doing a good enough job and getting paid every month…


    I did have a plan in my 20’s.  Got to Finance Director then Financial Controller of a £200m company, but, the hours, young family, real stress of managing a privately owned company and lack of cycling, I stepped back a level, took a big pay drop, moved sectors.

    Benefits, more normal hours, decent pension, more holidays, less travel, time !   Down sides, no pay rise since so much less income.  Still stressful, but no ‘staff’ to manage.   Been in same role for 11 years now, and can’t be bothered to change – too much other stresses in life.

    I have a plan once my spinal injury is sorted and the claim settled – that is to book more days off on holiday, and bugger off into the hills on the bike !

    Premier Icon dazh

    We have a graduate recruitment program where I work and they all seem focused and driven but I can’t help thinking they’re probably actually like the people who appear on The Apprentice

    Don’t get me started on grads coming out of uni all suited up and wanting to be directors by the time they’re 35. I have no idea if The Apprentice is to blame for this unjustified ambition/self assessment but it must be coming from somewhere. It’s pretty tragic really. I recently interviewed candidates for a graduate web development position who had done a 12-week coding bootcamp. When I asked them where they saw themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of skills and experience, some of them said 8 or 9. After a 12 week training course! I hired the ones who said 1 or less.


    When I asked them where they saw themselves on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of skills and experience, some of them said 8 or 9.

    Pretty normal Dunning–Kruger effect. The less you know, the less you don’t realise you don’t know.


    I can relate to a lot of the above, I work in finance and while I enjoy it it’s not my passion. I’d love to find a job that involved being outdoors more but the reality of life is those require a very different lifestyle to the one I have/want at the moment.

    While I don’t believe in needing a formal 5 year plan with clear steps towards a target job I do think having some short and long term career goals is important. Then you can think about the smaller steps you can start taking that might help you realise some of them.

    When I turned 35 a couple of years ago I realised I didn’t want to wake up at 40 still in the same office doing similar work that I had for the last 10 years. Voluntary redundancy presented an opportunity and 3 years later we’ve taken a first step towards a different life by moving to a smallholding in wales. Still doing a finance job in an office but a step towards something different. Don’t think I’d have made that leap without thinking about my career.

    I also qualified as a running coach and started to look at what other skills I could develop that could enable that getting out of the office dream. Maybe not by the time I’m 40 and maybe never on a permanent basis but it gives some direction and feeds the passion while knowing I’m as senior in my office job as I’d like to go.

    So would recommend thinking about those life goals rather than specifically career goals. Personally I’ve found discussing those in an honest way with managers as a positive experience (mostly) and the times it hasn’t been positive has been working for companies/managers who I actually decided weren’t good places to work.


    Too late for me now, but bollocksese as it may sound, one piece of advice I’d give to anyone at early through mid career is get a mentor/mentors – someone not involved with your work, with enough knowledge and judgement to help you see where you’re going.


    A plan is the datum by which you can measure the actual against the plan, it may prove that the actual is/was better than the plan in that case the plan was wrong however by virtue of its existence the error between it and your  better actual it has had a positive effect.

    EXACTLY cheekyboy! Now if only someone had told me that as I was about to embark on a career in bollocks!


    I was happy in my job

    Id been there a long time SME , plenty varied travel , varied job from R&D, assembly test, proceedures , field trials , field running and remote trouble shooting.

    The company decided that my department was being closed wholesale.

    moved into a regional projects position due to a narrowband skillset meaning not so many opportunities for me

    that was shit – i learnt a lot about the project side of things though – procurement/JDE/Approvals process etc

    From there i made a plan to get back to where i wanted to be – so i did a bunch of training in my downtime, Spent a chunk of time with the people in the fields i needed to widen my knowledge into.

    What got me there ? – the plan ? no….. lots of luck and having the plan allowed me to be able to answer the questions i needed confidently and comprehensively to for the offer to be made to get me where i wanted to be. If your asked out right where you want to be (and you know you dont want to be where you are) and you urrrm and errr – why would the manager have confidence in you to bring you over. If you know what you want and basically tell them – they can at least try and bring you in on it.

    here i am – currently plugging in holes in the gaps in my knowledge and skills (wholely declared on my application)

    Plan for a career change around your mid 40s. Sounds weird but I and a few friends have found ourselves either facing redundancy or a serious change that makes life difficult. All round that age.

    I’m not talking about actively quitting your existing career, but have an idea of what you’d like to do. Study? Start a business?

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