22 Oct 2020

When I started out on my career I was told that I needed a career plan. A practical strategy that allowed me to focus my skills and interests, set goals, and think about the tactics that would allow me to achieve them. Whilst I personally did not have a defined career plan, many people I knew did have a vision of what they wanted to achieve.


Today I wonder if a clearly defined career path is realistic for people entering the job market either as graduates or newly unemployed?


In 2020, work environments have changed significantly and the economy is struggling whilst we wait to see what happens next. Many businesses are letting valued employees go in order to survive, trying to deal with customers and suppliers, changing supply chains, and declining sales amongst other operational and financial challenges. Coupled to this recent data shows one in 10 graduates of some universities are still unemployed 15 months after leaving higher education (Higher Education Statistics Agency).


This means that the types of roles and the availability of roles is changing and we aren’t sure where this might lead in future when things start to get back to normal.


So what does this mean for your career plan?


My guess if you’re looking for work you probably still need one – whether you’re a graduate or an experienced worker. But, today more than ever, I believe that your career plan should be FOCUSED, REALISTIC, ADAPTABLE AND TENACIOUS.




Having been an employee, an employer and a recruiter throughout my own career I know that people will rarely take you seriously if you don’t have an idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it and what you can do for them. 


Being focused also means you can concentrate your job hunting efforts within certain types of roles, sectors, skill sets. Applying for everything will eat away at your time, your energy and your morale ... and often proves to be frustrating for everyone involved in the process.




Your career goals and job hunt should be built around the skills you have and the skills you need to get you to where you want to go. Your experience needs to be credible so potential employers can absolutely see a link to the role and their company and understand how your relationship could be mutually beneficial.




If you’re getting nowhere in your career plan, rethink. What are you missing in order to get to where you want to go? Can you build on your existing skills or take a different role that will help you get some of the experience you need for your longer term goals?

What other opportunities are out there and could you refocus your efforts in that direction? I have seen fantastic careers (including my own) built by taking roles that may not have been written into the plan but have led to outstanding opportunities and experience.




Taking all the above into consideration, tenacity accounts for a lot. I have seen people with few relevant qualifications land the job of their dreams by being extremely tenacious. They did this by being focused, taking advice and constantly building their skill set whilst always having a clear understanding of where they wanted to be. 


My career plan


I trained in business studies and really had no clear plan but ended up, by chance, getting an admin job in an advertising agency which led me to decide that this was what I wanted to do. I studied Advertising and Marketing in my spare time which led me to work in a small agency, which led to a bigger agency and bigger roles working with some fantastic brands. After working briefly for myself and doing everything from writing food reviews to delivering flowers and driving tennis players around Wimbledon, I then landed a job in marketing recruitment. 10 years on I've had a wonderful period at Stopgap, working with wonderful colleagues and some fantastic brands to source the very best candidates. I've now made the decision to move onto something new and I'm very much looking forward to that next stage of my career - plan or no plan! 

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