What are your long term career goals?
When deciding if you should go to university, or if it's time to retrain for a new
career, you need to assess your career goals.
These days there are many different patterns of work available to us. In the
past, most people were expected to get a job and stay there pretty much for the rest of their working lives,
perhaps climbing the career ladder and moving within the company or moving to another company in the same
So career goals were not something which required a lot of thought. People started
at the bottom and the goal was to get to the top of the ladder or as close as possible.
Nowadays, the job for life is very rare and it is common to move around from one
company to another and to change careers several times during your working life. In addition, it is also common to
have what is known as a portfolio career, that is, having several sources of income at the same time. This could
mean a combination of employment and self employment.
Defining your career goals
Start at the end - your final career goal
When do you want to retire and what sort of lifestyle do you want? Or perhaps you
want to have a career which is so much fun that you never want to retire. Spend some time writing down your final
It could be that you want a second career when you are older, for example, you'd
like to have enough money in the bank to allow yourself to follow a dream which doesn't feel possible now, such as
being a writer or artist.
It may be that you will have a first career which will give you the experience and
financial resources needed for your second career. It could also be that you are interested in different things and
want a combination of different jobs either at the same time or in succession.
Or it may be that you want to progress in your chosen field and work your way to
the top or to gain experience in different fields with a view to setting up your own company.
So start out with where you want to end up and work backwards until you reach
today. This will help you create a blueprint to design your own career. Remember that you can change your plans at
any time - it's not unusual to want something very different at age 20, 40 or 60. If this is too general for you
now, let's get more specific
You may not know what you want to do for the rest of your working life, after all,
career goals change with experience. So instead you can think about where you want to be in 10 years time - this
will give you a clearer picture of what you need to do right now. Let's say you want to reach a certain point on
the career ladder within a specific industry.
Define the exact position you'd like to be in: middle management in an IT company,
chef in a top restaurant, head of department in a school or whatever it is.
Next define the step before that one. So for the school example, it could be
several years of experience teaching your subject. Then go to the step before that, which would be getting a
teaching job, and before that, getting your teaching qualification. So the first major step would be getting a
degree in your subject.
Depending on where you are now, that might be the next step, or you may need to
get the entry requirements for university first.
Apply this technique to your own career goals. The teaching example is pretty
straightforward, your goal may not be. So spend some time researching what you need to do. If you have a specific
company or organization in mind, contact them to find out what sort of experience and qualifications they look for.
You can do this by going to open days, career fairs, looking at their website and reading any information they send
It may be possible to get some work experience with them or do a little work
shadowing. If not, be creative - try to find people who already work there and ask if you can get some advice
regardng your career goals, get some job application packs or look at the recruitment section on their
Changing Career Goals
Of course it isn't possible to make an exact plan for your career - life doesn't
always go according to plan, but this will help you decide what you really want to do and show you what you need to
do to get there. And if you decide on a different path along the way, you can use these techniques to help you with
your new career goals.