By: Ken Yap
There was a time when five-year plans were all the rage. But that was when workers can still count on signing up with a company for life. In the warp-speed world of technology, five years is an eternity. So how is one supposed to map out one`s career when the business landscape is always changing?
Firstly, a plan is useless but planning is still essential. Instead of a five-year plan, try formulating a five-year vision. In that way, workers can chart a course they would like to follow. For example, today I am on the team; in two years, I would like to be managing it; in three years, I would like to be relocated to build a new team in a new market; and in five years, I would like to be coordinating a group of international teams. Just keep in mind that the course will almost certainly change.
Secondly, workers should not confine their career projections within the framework of their current companies as they did previously. Instead, they should understand that while it is beneficial to set a goal of being a supervisor in five years, you might need to move to another company in another country to achieve it. Construct a portfolio of your achievements and market yourself by including your personal goals along with your career goals. It is important to include financial planning, as one cannot rely on employers` plans to manage one`s money.
Thirdly, workers should identify employment-related characteristics regardless of other factors. The key to planning is for workers to upgrade their own skills and stay relevant in the job market. This applies strongly to the engineering profession. For the first four to five years, the engineer`s plan will be broken into two major periods. The first two years will be learning key technical training and after that the engineer will be placed in the field for a couple of years. The engineer should take advantage of all opportunities to try out different aspects of engineering during these five years. After this incubation period, the engineer would need to be flexible and able to chart his own course, even into overseas countries with strong career growth opportunity.
Fourthly, workers should make their plans incremental and somewhat aggressive. This is very much the case in creative fields such as design and architecture. Creative people are expected to do rather than wait to be told what to do. But even the most creative businesses are businesses at heart. So, a career plan for a designer or decorator should include delving into the business side of projects.
In general, workers must first decide what specific path they wish to take, and then proceed down that road ambitiously, scooping up opportunities when they appear. Long-term plans can be used as guides, but they become folly if they are followed rigidly.
Set your goals. Map out a plan. Create a vision. Then six months later, be ready to rethink those goals.
About the Author:
Ken Yap is a director of Suwa Precision Engineering in Singapore and represents precision component manufacturers from Suwa, also called "The Oriental Switzerland" in Japan due to its Swiss resemblance for rich watch-making industry, its mountainous terrain and its precision component making industry. For more information on precision manufacturing, visit http://www.suwaprecision.com.
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