Changing Jobs Professional Development

5 Steps to Create Your Own Career Path

5 steps to create your own career path

Whether you’re a recent grad trying to plan your next steps, hoping to move up in the ranks in your current office, a career changer who’s ready for new professional opportunities, or returning to the workforce after time away, The National Association of Professional Women has provided a list of planning tips to get you started!

Step 1: Evaluate

First things first–begin by taking stock of your current job or skill-set; are there potential opportunities for advancement? Are you satisfied there? Do you need to look into new certifications or positions that might interest you more?

Step 2: Write It Down

Whether you like to write on paper or type a note in your phone, capture your brainstorming in some visual way so you can refer back to it regularly. It’s the best way to hold yourself accountable to your list of goals and career objectives.

Step 3: Network

From senior colleagues to mentors from past educational or professional opportunities, chances are you already know people who can help you learn more about the field you’re hoping to enter or advance in. Ask questions, take people out for coffee, reconnect online, and attend local career fairs in search of advice and behind-the-scenes insights. Your friends and co-workers can’t help you find it if they don’t know what you’re looking for!

Step 4: Seek Help

You may want to consider working with a professional career coach, who can assess your background and potential objectively, to help prepare and motivate your quest to make significant career changes. Temp agencies may also be able to help you find short term gigs that pay the bills, fill your resume and keep you busy.

Step 5: Monitor and Review

Change doesn’t happen overnight–check in with your list of goals, be patient, and take it from the National Association of Professional Women–“Remember, be flexible, stay positive and keep forging ahead.”

Remember to take good care of yourself too–whether you’re searching for an entirely new job or hoping to make changes in your current role, it can be stressful and time-consuming, but taking the time to self-evaluate and make a wish-list can help you stay focused and identify opportunities to make progress.

5 Steps to Creating a Career Path That Will Work For You

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About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.

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