How career planning can help you achieve your career goals

Statistically, the average employee can expect to change careers anywhere from five to seven times during their lifetime. This kind of flexibility presents many incredible opportunities for career growth, but with so much change, how do you make sure your career is heading in the right direction? And how do establish a clear trajectory of where you want to end up?

For many, the answer to these questions can be found through career planning, which essentially allows you to work on your career, and not just in it during your day-to-day job. Career planning is often overlooked, however is an important process that helps an employee map out not just goals, but the steps, skills and even mentors that may be required to help you achieve your career goals. It will allow you to reflect on your aspirations, where you find professional fulfilment and how you can make your ambitions a reality.

Career planning should occur at all stages of your career, not just when you’re first entering the workforce, so now might be a better time than you think to begin mapping out your career trajectory. Here’s how you can get started.


This is an important starting point in any kind of planning or goal setting scenario, as it gives you the time to understand what it is you actually enjoy doing. So often, an employee may be working in a role or career that they are simply doing because they “got the job”, or don’t know what else they might do.

It’s easy to neglect this stage, as we’re all so often busy simply doing our daily job, however when you stop to reflect on your values, skills and passions, you’ll be better able to understand in which direction you might like your career to next move.

Furthermore, research from Harvard Business School suggests that self-reflection is key to success, as well as increasing one’s productivity and performance. This is because if you are clearer on your driving motivations and goal endpoint, you are more likely to make the most out of current opportunities that will allow you to reach your career goals.

Research and gather information

Once you have reflected on the direction you might like your career to move, it is time to research exactly how you can get there. There are certain roles and industries that will require specific training, education or experience, so you’ll need to familiarise yourself with these in order for your chosen career path to be possible.

Doing this research as early as possible is important, as it will allow you to be well informed and completely qualified when the time comes to take the next step on your career path. There’s no point sitting in an interview for the job you want if you don’t have the necessary qualifications to be hired.

It is important to note that some of the qualifications, certificates, or training you may need could take a couple of years to obtain. However, if these will help you follow the career progression you are hoping for, such investment of your time will likely be worth it. This also does not mean you should give up your current job, even if you have identified that it isn’t your chosen career, but instead see it as a support while you upskill for your ideal job.

Make the most of short term opportunities for long term success

If you are employed, you may have more time to consider alternative job opportunities and prospects. However if you are currently looking for work, this presents itself as a good time to consider which jobs that are available in the short term could help you succeed in achieving your desired career path.

To do this, consider the skills – both soft skills and technical – that you will likely be required to have further down the track, and then align these with the current opportunities available to you. There are many valuable skills you can learn along your career path, providing you with foundational experience that will help you build on, and even become an expert in, areas that will be crucial to achieving your career goals when your preferred role becomes available.

Identify transferable skills

While there may indeed be areas where you need to upskill yourself or else gain additional training, it is also important to acknowledge the skills you already possess and how they may help you get to where you want to go.

If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you will likely possess technical skills (whether this be in computer software, medical or operating machinery) that you may be able to transfer to your chosen career. But if you plan to move to a relatively different area, consider the ‘soft skills’ you have acquired which may help you get to where you want to go.

Soft skills can often be overlooked, however they are incredibly important when it comes to career planning. Some of the most sought after soft skills which are often the foundations for professional success include communication skills, critical thinking, teamwork, creativity and leadership. Take the time to consider your soft skills and what else you can bring to the table when it comes to your chosen career path.

Set goals

Once you have reflected on where you would like your career to go, it is time to figure out how you are going to get there. The best way to do this is by setting SMART goals, that is, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound that will all help you progress along your chosen career path. Studies have shown that writing down your SMART goals and sharing them with others results in a 76 percent success rate, as this creates a sense of accountability and cements them in your long-term memory.

As career planning will likely occur over several years, don’t be afraid to set long-term goals, as this is what will ultimately help you progress to where you want to be. However, it is important to set yourself short-terms goals along the way to ensure you are following the best path to get to your ideal end point.

For example, you may currently be working as an Administrative Assistant in a small business, however have identified your ideal career is as an Executive Assistant in a national company. While your long-term goal may be to apply and be successful in obtaining an EA job, some of your short-term goals could include:

  • Asking for more responsibility or additional training in your current role.
  • Requesting feedback from colleagues and managers about your work.
  • Enrolling in an online course to learn a specific computer software that will be important in an EA role.
  • Making an effort to network at upcoming conference events.

These are just an overview of some of the short-term goals one could set, though remember to use the SMART goals system, for best results.

If you are looking to take the next step in your career, or else are searching for a new job contact the Bayside Group today and one of our professional consultants can help you on your journey.