Two roads diverged in a wood…

Robert Frost might not have been speaking figuratively about career direction, but for this exercise we can use his celebrated poem as a backdrop for considering career action plans. Many people these days are facing numerous career roads, either by choice or by obligation.

A career action plan does not have to be an intricate document of ultimatums. Yes, the onus is firmly on you to kick start the action plan, but that is not to say you cannot seek advice on career issues. In fact, it is essential to ask for input from people whose opinions you value and/or a professional in this field.

A career action plan is not exclusive to a specific age bracket or employment situation. Anyone wanting to secure a career can consider an action plan. The progress of the plan depends solely on the individual’s enthusiasm.

First things first, you should start asking yourself questions about your current professional position – it is imperative to understand your own circumstances before you ask anyone else for advice on the ‘where to next’. You can assess your current situation by using a range of measures, using descriptive words to expressing your present work role, or summarising what you would most like to change about your job.

This is a good starting point, once you assess your existing profession you can then determine what your job is lacking. You should try to be open-minded throughout the process.

Once you begin to think about career moves a whole host of new options will present themselves. An additional approach you can take is to assess the criteria which led you to this point, both personally and professionally. For instance, you can ask yourself questions such as ‘is it my passion for the job that has me doing it’ or ‘what qualifications did I complete to attain my current role’?

Or ask yourself, ‘if monetary factors weren’t a concern and I had all the money I needed – what would my dream roles be?’

This might seem silly but it can be very effective in identifying your ideal profession. However, try to be somewhat realistic: lads, I don’t think Jeremy, Hamster or May will be retiring any time soon.

Another approach would be to get a psychometric test done. This gives insight into how people behave at work and helps individuals to become more aware of their own work style. Again this reiterates my earlier advice on becoming aware of yourself before you ask others to.

Once you have acquired all relevant information – by advice, psychometric testing or otherwise – you can now draft a career action plan. Consult your friends and family. Ask them what they think you should look at doing.

Your career action plan should be goal orientated, a list of tasks i.e. visit careers websites, arrange various career shadowing days, or develop your IT skills.

It is irrelevant whether you take baby steps, or immerse yourself totally in the process, as long as you have approximate dates for achieving your steps.

Use all resources available, the internet, Golden Pages, recruitment sites or information from friends in diverse sectors of employment. It can be like turning over a stone and finding all manner of options underneath, so it’s important to be open to all career roads. Happy exploring – perhaps even more than two roads will diverge for you.

To get a sample copy of a Career Action Plan – and some other useful career resources – email with Career Action Plan in the subject line. Contact Sli Nua Careers for CVs, Interview Preparation and Mock Interviews – tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883.