Are you in your twenties and feeling lost about what you should do with your life?
You’re not alone. A lot of people feel this way at this stage in their lives. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to make career planning a little bit easier.
In your twenties, career planning is essential, and we’re not talking about polishing your cover letter for the next job you might want or diving into your job search. This is the time to map out your path and make sure you are on the right track for achieving your long-term goals. While it may seem like a lot of work, career planning in your twenties doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it can be easy if you follow an action plan with these five simple steps!
5 Easy Steps For Career Planning In Your 20s
Step One: Determine Your Goals
The first step in career planning is to determine your main goals. What do you want to achieve in your career? Do you want to be promoted to a management position? Do you want to start your own business? Do you want to change careers entirely? Do you want to go back to graduate school? Once you know what your goals are, you can begin mapping out a plan to achieve them.
Goal setting doesn’t have to be a hard exercise, even small, short-term goals will help you get where you want to be long term. Start by brainstorming a list of career goals, then narrow it down to the top three or five that are most important to you. If you’re struggling, pick the biggest goal you can think of, your mountain. Then consider how to chop up your big goal into smaller steps with their own goals that you can achieve in the short term. For example, if your ultimate goal is to start your own business, some smaller steps might be:
- Researching the industry
- Developing a business plan
- Finding funding
- Hiring employees
The goals should be your goals, not what other people might want. This is your career, so you should be the one in charge!
Step Two: Research Your Options
The second step is to research your options. There are many different career paths you could take, so it’s important that you explore all of your options before making a decision. Each job interview will be different depending on the job markets you are interested in, so it’s important to know what you want and what you’re looking for when it comes to potential employers.
You don’t need to dive off the deep end straight away, start with some career research. What are the different career choices available to you? What are the pros and cons of each option? Gather information before you make a career change, and know what your specific needs are. What does each career path entail? Once you have a good understanding of your options, you can begin narrowing down your choices.
Talk to friends, family members, and professionals in the field to get their insights and advice. Informational interviews will help you better understand the roles and career field you’re interested in. Research job descriptions online and read articles about various career paths. Talk to a career advisor if you’re unsure of how one field might related to another. The more you know about your options, the easier it will be to make a decision.
Googling certainly helps, and there are other platforms that make this easier like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Dive deep into both jobs and companies. This will give you a better idea of work environments for the potential career options, which is a good idea to get yourself in the right direction and on the right path!
Step Three: Consider Your Skills and Interests
The third step is to consider your skills and interests. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? When you’re thinking about your career goals, it’s important to match them up with your skills and interests. Think about which soft skills and hard skills you have that enjoy doing. You’ll also want to think about transferable skills you have or new skills you may want to work on as your do your career exploration.
For example, if you’re interested in starting your own business, but you don’t have any business-related skills or experience, it might not be the best idea. However, if you’re good at sales and marketing, starting your own business could be a great option for you.
While it’s certainly true that if you have a passion for your work it’s definitely more enjoyable and easier, it’s not always essential that they align, nor will it always give you a sense of purpose. Your career interests don’t always mean career success. For a stepping stone job, having true passion for it isn’t a necessity.
But your passions can be a good inspiration and starting point for considering what you might want out of a job. If you can’t think of anything, sit down and brainstorm a list of things you enjoy doing. From there, it should be easier to identify some potential career paths that could be a good fit for you.
Step Four: Make a Plan
Once you’ve determined your goals, researched your options, and considered your skills and interests, it’s time to make a plan so you can consider your next steps.
This is where you’ll decide what steps you need to take to achieve your career goals. If you want to be promoted to a management position, for example, you might need to get more experience in the field or earn a higher degree. If you’re interested in changing careers entirely, you’ll need to research the steps necessary to make the switch.
Your plan should be as detailed as possible. Imagine the steps leading up the side of a mountain, what should those steps each be? Setting out some steps will make going up the mountain much easier.
Career planning is important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you follow these four simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to a useful career plan. Combine all the notes and thoughts you’ve had from each step into you plan.
Step Five: Take Action
The final step is to take action. Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to start working towards your goals. Set small smart goals that will help you achieve your long-term career goals.
For example, if your goal is to start your own business, your small-term goal might be to save up money or take a business class. career planning is an ongoing process, so don’t be afraid to reassess your goals and make changes to your plan as needed.
Set out deadlines or timeframes. What do you want to achieve in 3 months? 6 months? 12 months? career planning can seem daunting, but if you take it one step at a time with clear deadlines then that will keep it digestible.
If some actions seem daunting, that’s fine – start with the small ones. Even a small task done every day has a compounding effect, like brushing your teeth. Little and often is the way forward to make progress. You need to be disciplined and persistent.
Career planning in your twenties doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these five simple steps of an effective career plan, you can make sure you’re on the right track for a successful career that will lead you to your dream job. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!
Naomi is the founder of Tribe And Seek and an EMCC and CIPD accredited career and performance coach. She has coached people from a variety of backgrounds and industries, from graduates to senior executives.
Naomi was also the first in-house learning and development lead at the HR consultancy Lane4 (the leading L&D consultancy in the UK). She worked alongside olympic athletes to support clients like Kraft Heinz and TUI to develop their senior leaders. She also designed training at the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Award for both young and adult leaders.
No stranger to change, Naomi left a previous career in international development consulting behind and also fully overcame an accident that broke her neck.