The below is a starting point for you to determine what you want to achieve in your career and how we can support you in making that happen.
1. Where are you now?
It can be pretty hard to work out where to start. Knowing who you are as a professional is a good kick-off point. In order to get things moving in the right way, a self-assessment is important. Here, you'll work on a user manual of sorts – your very own User Manual – getting down on paper as to what makes you tick. What your strengths are, where you need to be handled with care and what doesn't work for you. This is you seeing yourself in the mirror, not your Team Lead assessing your skillsets.
Once you've done your User Manual, you'll be in a good place to start thinking about where you want to get to.
Tip: The User Manual is also useful for figuring out how to work best with others in your team, especially if working with a colleague on a new project for the first time.
2. Identify your destination.
This can be difficult and requires some thought. The easy answer here is "I don't know," but there are some steps you can take to try and identify where you want to go with your career.
Maybe at the end of it all, you still won't know what that career role is, and that's ok. If that's the case, consider it another way – who do you want to be? Work on who you want to be as a professional, and apply the same logic.
Ask yourself, "What is my dream career?" Look far down the road, perhaps 5 or 10 years ahead, and think about where you would like to be. Read about that career, research it, look at job descriptions, and start to understand what is required to get there. What skills and experiences are necessary for such a role?
Break it down and be specific.
Ten years can feel very far away (it is…), but think about where you are now: what would be the first steps on that road? What can you achieve in the next 12 months to move in the right direction? Be concise and specific.
Once you've got clear, tangible, actionable goals for the next year, it's time to put a roadmap together. Where do you go next? It gets a little harder here because it's further away, it's like estimating a big task – you need to think of ways of breaking it down so it's more manageable and also look at alternative routes of getting to the same destination because things don't always work out as planned, so how would there be other means of achieving those goals?
Try to make sure that you are aligning these next goals with what gets you going, or you’ll very quickly go off track and lose ambition.
3. Do a gap analysis.
You now have a pretty good idea of what you need to do and who you need to be to achieve your dream career. It's a good time to do the Gap Analysis, which determines the distance between where you are now and where you aim to be.
Go beyond the office walls.
Talk to your Team Lead, and share these goals – don't hold back, maybe that dream career is looking beyond Significa. That's ok, we are all adults and realistic that life changes and not everybody will be here for the duration of their career. Share honestly, we'll be happy for you to be working towards your goals because that means you'll become a better professional, and that will, in turn, benefit Significa.
Discuss with your Team Lead, try to understand whether there are key skill sets that you should be working on that maybe you've missed, and start to discuss how you can grow within your current role whilst also working towards your short-term goals. Which specific skills do you need to develop to get you there, and how can you incorporate working on those within your current scope of work? We'll be happy to connect you to resources, signpost you to courses that may help or even connect you with a mentor from our wider network of contacts.
Rate your qualifications.
Once you've talked things through with your Team Lead, you should now have a clear list of skills and experiences that you'll need to reach in order to land that dream role. Go through that list and rate yourself from 1-5, with 1 representing the biggest gap between where you are currently with the requirement, and 5 meaning that you've already got that nailed. Here, the lower the number, the more energy and focus will be needed to bring the score up closer to a 5.
With all the requirements listed, take a look at all the areas where you have gaps. Is there a trend? Are there common denominators between those requirements? If so, you should group those together, and you'll notice generally where you are strong and where you need to focus your growth on.
4. Create your career development plan.
Now that you have the details about the skills you need to develop to advance your career, you're ready to make a plan to do so. This step involves taking the list of skills, education and experiences you want to gain over the next few years and creating a roadmap to reach your career goals. It can still feel huge and overwhelming, so it's good to break things down further.
In order to reach your goals, there will likely be many tasks involved to make those happen. Create small tasks for each requirement on your list. For example, if you want to learn Motion Design, a good place to start may be to take an intro course, or even setting aside time to look around for the right course for you. Remember to build all of this into your roadmap.
Tip: Start small. Having short-term, relatively quick-to-achieve goal-oriented tasks – even something such as reading a particular book – will kick you off with momentum to keep going.
You need to make sure that your goals are achievable and measurable. Otherwise, you’ll lose momentum, and things will feel unobtainable.
Specific – define your goal clearly and specifically.
Measurable – what evidence can you benchmark against to know how much progress you've made?
Achievable – Is it reasonable?
Relevant – your goal should align with your long-term objectives.
Time-bound – set a realistic end date for achieving the goal.
Keep yourself accountable.
Assign yourself deadlines for each goal. Be realistic here and consider your workload and project deadlines. Start with a start date and plan out any preliminary steps for each item too. Before you do a course, you may need to write an application letter, for example.
You should now have a pretty detailed-looking roadmap to cover all your gaps.
5. Measure your progress and be ready to re-evaluate.
Turning planning into doing. It's time to move. Keep your list and roadmap nearby and come back to it regularly. Over a few months, you’ll know if you've been realistic with your current workload and life. Were you too ambitious with your dates? Maybe you're closer or further than you thought with some of your gaps, check in with yourself occasionally. Things happen and life changes, so keep flexible and make sure that your plan is working with your life – both professionally and personally – if it’s not, re-evaluate and adjust it. Adjusting your Career Plan is not failing or taking shortcuts, it's realistic over that long a period of time that things will change.
Keep talking. Keeping your Team Lead up to date with your progress will help you stay on track and motivated and is a great source for unblocking and navigating around difficulties. We want you to succeed and to keep growing!