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The importance of career planning

Planning your career is a wholly worthwhile step to ensure your future happiness. Enjoying your work, the environment you work in and your duties is essential if you are to have a fulfilling career ahead. If you have a strong idea of the direction you would like your career to head in, it's a good idea to take some time out in order to think through what will be needed to make your career plans flourish.

The average working week in the UK lasts for 43.2 hours. As your work is a fundamental aspect of your life, the decisions you make will inevitably impact on your lifestyle and happiness, so forward-planning can only enrich your career, helping you to hit your personal targets. It's wise to get started as soon as you have a concrete idea of where you would like to be in the future.There are numerous points to consider, from those that may seem trivial to those which are absolutely essential.


Critical to your happiness is whether you enjoy of your job. Think about the elements of your employment which bring you the greatest satisfaction and which gain you the biggest plaudits. Is it possible to move into a similar role with a stronger focus on the elements you enjoy the most? Employers will generally prefer to play to your strengths rather than have you perform a job you're unhappy doing. If you need experience in an area which you know you will find challenging and fun, mention it in an appraisal. This could result in an enriched and ultimately more satisfying role for you.

Industry Fit

The atmosphere and environment of offices from sector to sector can vary enormously. For example: a company in the media sector is more likely to have a more relaxed, dress-down environment than a City based brokers, simply because this industry demands a certain kind of behaviour. Different industries have different etiquette and it's very important to ensure that you choose the right industry for you. You know your own personality better than any recruiter, so do some research on the kinds of environment that might suit you and ask your friends about the feeling in their offices. 

Skills & Qualifications

Many roles will list demonstrable work experience among the criteria in the job specification. If the criteria is impossible for you to match within your current role, think about where you might be able to gain the kind of experience that is being demanded. If this means a change of role, think carefully about your willingness to make the change. In some sectors, particularly in the creative field, unpaid work experience is unfortunately the only option. If you're determined to succeed, it may be possible to save the money required or even take on part time work to ensure you gain a foothold in your desired area. Keep in mind that the financial stress of unpaid work can be quite a load to bear, so think also about the period of time you would be able to sustain such work.

Family and Lifestyle

It may not seem particularly relevant, but at some point your family status will affect the work you plan to do. A good example might be a role which would require a great deal of travel, as this could eventually affect your home life. Other aspects of your working life that may impact upon your family life might be the location of your workplace in relation to your family home - a long commute can become a source of anxiety for some. The hours you work will also make a difference to your presence at home, while your salary will obviously impact upon your family. Though it may seem far off, it's wise to give this some thought before embarking on your new career path.

When checking that your CV is up to date, have a look at the skills and qualifications you have listed. These are your personal assets and there is always room to build on your existing abilities. A ‘skills audit' will allow you to see what might stand as a barrier to your progression. A skills audit involves breaking down all of your qualifications and past training as well as skills you have acquired through your day-to-day work. Putting them down on paper will enable you to see exactly which areas you can improve upon and where training will improve your chances of finding the role you desire. To step up from a junior role in any profession may require a qualification or some in-house training. Have a look online at the kinds of industry qualifications that are available in your sector and then take a look at the roles which demand them. You will probably notice that the salaries for those roles take a leap up upon qualification. Again, speak to your Manager about the possibility of your current workplace sponsoring your study. After all, your newfound skills are as much a benefit to them as to yourself.