How to Build a Roadmap to Your Career Destination
Most people want more lucrative and satisfying jobs; the issue is they don’t develop a roadmap to attain their career goals. Sometimes I wish there was a “career GPS”—a tool that I could give jobseekers to help them define targets and provide turn-by-turn directions to their professional destinations. Unfortunately, this type of technology doesn’t exist. But I can provide a few helpful tips to help guide you through your job search.
Navigating your career is like navigating a road trip; you need to have a target in order to develop a roadmap. Without a destination, you can’t chart a path to success. To help determine your target, create a list of the likes and dislikes from your prior jobs. Identify what excites and bores you as a professional. Determine common threads among the organizations you haven’t enjoyed working for and vice versa. Find people on LinkedIn who have achieved careers that seem appealing to you and identify the training, experience, and roles that have helped them reach their goals.
Once you’ve defined a target, start reviewing job advertisements. When you’ve found several appealing postings, pinpoint the central themes and concepts. What do they all have in common? What traits, skills, and education are most relevant? Do you have more than one target that will require some detours along the way? Using this intelligence, you can then build a professional roadmap to your goals.
Keep in mind that there are five main marketing channels you can use to drive your search: LinkedIn/social media, professional networking, traditional job boards, recruiters, and company websites. What’s the right mix of these tools for you? Well, that depends. If you have more than 20 years of experience, your network may be the primary channel you want to leverage, as you’ve probably built a good deal of professional relationships over time. If you’re in a niche field, such as public relations or law, an industry-specific recruiter might be a key driver. If the company that you want to work for is more important than the role, targeting individual organizations may be a prime ingredient in your job search recipe.
After you’ve identified the right mix of channels for you, develop strategies and tactics for each communication channel. And don’t forget to set clear goals. Perhaps you want to develop three elevator pitches and attend one industry event each month to leverage your networking channel, or maybe you want to use social media twice a day to promote your professional brand. Set clear weekly goals to manage and measure your search using these channels.
Lastly, track your job search results. If one job board or recruiter is generating more touch points and interviews than another, focus your efforts on the more rewarding channel. If you track when you reach out to contacts in your professional network, it will be much easier to follow up efficiently and maintain an open dialogue, as well. Whenever possible, try to make your search quantifiable so that you can monitor your successes and analyze the mileage you’re getting out of each strategy and tool you leverage.
Much like a road trip, a job search is only effective if there’s a clear target and roadmap. Being able to modify your approach based on progress and roadblocks is equally important. After all, you may hit some unexpected bumps in the road. I can’t give you a career GPS, but these strategies and tools are a good substitute and can get you moving in the right direction.