September 19, 2022
How to Plan Your Tech Career - Visualize It!
Your career is more than just a job.
A career plan is a roadmap for your future.
You may already have a dream job in mind. Maybe you have a general idea of what you want to do.
But how do you move from “I’d like to solve problems with code” or “I’d like to become a software engineer” to becoming one? And turn it into a career?
Here’s where it gets tricky: You probably don’t know exactly what your career path will look like. There are too many variables, and the world is too complex for that kind of certainty.
But there are some things you can do easily that will help set you up for success in whatever direction you choose to go later on.
The most effective way around this is planning—if you know where you’re headed, it’s easier to stay on track.
First step: Define what you want
The key to planning your career well is to understand what you enjoy and what you don’t. Here are some tips:
- List what you liked in your previous jobs and work environment. The first step in planning your tech career is knowing yourself well enough to know what kind of work is going to keep you happy and engaged over the long term. Take some time to reflect on what motivates you or gives you energy at work. That way, when opportunities arise, you’ll be able to recognize them quickly and act on them decisively.
- Review what you don’t like. Think about the things that make it difficult for you in your last role and write them down. Now, take another look at this list and see if there are any trends in what bothers you most: Do certain aspects of the job consistently crop up as negative? Is there something specific about the culture or environment that’s making work difficult for you? Are there certain skills that aren’t being utilized at all? This will help guide your search for future jobs.
- Visualize your future. To get started, imagine yourself 5 to 15 years from now. What kind of job do you have? What kind of person are you? How is your life different? What do people say when they talk about what you do? If this isn’t enough detail for you, try writing a short description of the job and life that resonates with you.
- Don’t let your fears hold you back. Change can be difficult. Not knowing what the future holds after a career change, changing your routine, the doubts of not being enough, being met with some judgment or rejection can be scary. Rather than letting this fear of change take over, find ways to embrace it. Acknowledge your fears and use these ideas to push past them. Having a roadmap with actionable steps and results can help you get there with more ease.
🔎 PRACTICAL TIP! Browse through the LinkedIn profiles of professionals you admire. What is their career like? Do they share their opinions on a blog? Perhaps they have already shared their career plan methods… Research and take inspiration from them!
- Write a personal mission statement. It might be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life and forget about your mission in life. A personal mission statement can help you identify your values and goals, defining what matters most to you professionally and personally. It makes decision-making easier and it clarifies whether the decisions you’re making are in alignment with what you want for your life.
Begin by writing down your values, then use these values as the foundation for your personal vision statement so you can align the goal-setting element of the statement. Make a list of hobbies, activities, social causes and other elements that you’re interested in. Consider highlighting the ways each interest relates to your core values. Identify your strengths to identify actionable elements of your background that can be used to reach your goals. Finally, using your values, interests and strengths, identify the central goal you want to achieve and write down actionable steps to reach your goal.
💡 Career planning is not something that should be done once and then forgotten about. It’s something that needs to be revisited regularly so that you are on track and can update parts of it along the way.
You already have some amazing skills. Recognize them!
The problem is that most people don’t lead with their strengths—instead, they spend their energy trying to “fix” their weaknesses or at least make them invisible by not letting anyone see them. This can create a vicious cycle where you feel stagnant because you are spending time on things that aren’t growing you as much as they could be. If you are one of these people, let’s turn the conversation around.
- What are your strengths?
- How can you use them more in life or at work?
- Is there any way you can use your strength to bring about a change in your life?
A weakness is something you aren’t so adept at; it might be something you struggle with a bit. Focusing too much on your weaknesses can pull you off course from where you want to end up. You should not ignore them at all, and you should channel your efforts into areas that need improvement. It is important not to beat yourself up over something you haven’t mastered yet. You should also look ahead at what skills could help you get ahead in the long run. Work on what needs improvement. Consider your opportunities and obstacles. Plan accordingly.
👩💻 Wondering how to prepare for a coding interview? Deep breaths: It’s not terribly complicated!
There are several online resources aimed at preparing a candidate for an interview, but most resources don’t answer these crucial questions: How do recruiters and hiring managers see this from their perspectives? How do they evaluate candidates? How do they expect a candidate to perform? Read here.
If you see it, you do it!
Whether it’s a vision board you create with pictures and quotes, or a simple written statement, make sure it’s somewhere you see daily!
A good plan is a solid basis for taking action. It creates a framework for thinking carefully about your goals and then working towards them. A good plan also means you have the flexibility to reevaluate your goals as your situation changes.
Remember, it’s never too late to take stock of your goals and make sure they’re still on track with what you expect out of your career.