next career move
September 21, 2020

Creating a Blueprint for your next Career Move even now

By Paul Laughlin

When I shared previously on approaches to help those between jobs, I mentioned those looking for their next career move. As well as data, analytics or insight leaders displaced at this time, I also know those who have had time to rethink what they want from their career.

But, as a mentor, I’m also aware that many leaders struggle to get clarity on their career goals.

So, I’m delighted to welcome back leadership coach & guest blogger, Kevin Watson, to share on this topic. Kevin has shared with us before on giving better feedback, focussing on being not doing & questions for goal setting.

Now, over to Kevin to help leaders create a blueprint for their next career move, even in these challenging economic times.

Most of us can work effectively toward our career goals – if only we know what they are

The key is to focus on what you want from your career and not what you don’t want. To help you do this, I’ve developed a short guide on how to create a blueprint for your perfect job.

Life is full of distractions and it is often hard to find time to focus on your own career development, so this guide is designed to be picked up and worked on for a few minutes at a time, over several days or maybe even weeks.

Your custom career house

Building an ideal career is like building a custom home, one that you’ve designed to suit you perfectly. Almost everyone who builds a custom home is wild about it. They love the style, size, layout and interior finishes.

Likewise, in the perfect career, you love every aspect: the company, product, people, customers, and location. Naturally, this is only an ideal. Few homes or careers achieve 100% perfection. But they can be 95% perfect, and that’s much better than a 40% fit – or no fit at all!

The first and most important step in planning your career is to create a blueprint of what the ideal is like.

“The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives.” – Michael E. Gerber 

Writing your Career Blueprint

So, take out a sheet of paper and divide into four columns, using the example below as a guide:

Career Blueprint template

The words you see used are only examples. Don’t copy them or use them as a checklist. Search for your own phrases.

Add your own categories down the left side of your chart and remember, you are writing about your future life, not just your career.

Think about your whole life

Include items of family and personal interest.

Five hours per week for leisure reading” is a valid entry. “Limit work week to 50 hours” is also valid.

As you see, this list is fanciful.

To say “I want to invent the rules as I go” is a stretch. What is being said is that “I want more freedom rather than less”.

Must-haves are very important, too. They are absolute requirements. While you may give up some of your wants, your must-haves are essential and should not be compromised.

Have some fun creating your blueprint

Think about the last column: FUN / FRIVOLOUS.

This is where your creativity should kick in. Don’t let this exercise become boring, or one-dimensional. Pick some fun stuff. Go ahead – give yourself a raise, a screamer-of-a-laptop, a health club membership, a window view of the ocean or frequent travel.

It’s important to make every entry specific, not vague.

WANT more time with my friends” is not as useful as “WANT 2 hours per week to go dancing with my friend“. Equally, “£85,000 per year” is better than “a high salary“.

Avoid phrases like, “I DON’T WANT a long commute“. Instead, say “I want to drive less than 30 minutes each way“.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius 

You’ll notice that some entries you make will be one word, others may be lengthy phrases.

Be Spontaneous about your next career move

Write whatever comes to mind without judging or second-guessing yourself, even if some entries seem stupid, odd, or inconsistent. This is the time to dream and turn off your self-critic!

This is not a 15-minute project, it’s a ‘refrigerator’ exercise – one you tape onto the refrigerator and revisit from time to time, over the course of several days or weeks.

This is important because it helps you focus. It’s also important while interviewing because job opportunities tend to look like apples, oranges, and bananas – very different.

That’s what sometimes makes choosing the best of several offers so hard. Accepting one offer and rejecting the rest can be one of the most painful experiences of a career.

Ways to use your Career Blueprint to help identify next move

You can use your chart to compare and contrast every potential opportunity and job offer, both inside and outside your present employer.

You’ll be surprised how helpful it is. If you use this grid well, difficult choices will be easier, and your next job offer could easily be 95% perfect. I trust that this simple tool will help you create the perfect job for you.

What will you do to work towards your next career move?

Thanks, Kevin for sharing that simple practical resource. I hope that helps readers who want to think through their career choices.

Let us know how that helps you or if you have found other resources helpful in getting the data/analytics/insight next career move clarity that you seek.

Once again best wishes to all those who are between jobs at this time, or making the brave move to change jobs themselves. May you have the clarity you need and time to think this through well.