career plan

CCT#3 - How to Create a Career Plan?

In this lecture, we’re going to start focusing on step 1 of our 5-step dream career blueprint. If you remember from chapter 1, step 1 was called “Create a Career Plan” and in this chapter, I’m going to put together a complete framework for you to start thinking about your career.

But I’d like to take you through a slight detour first.

 Imagine for a moment that you are an organization. The main goal of an organization is to make a profit. To make a profit and grow your business, you would probably want to put together a strategy in place. This strategy would include defining your vision as a company, defining your mission as a company, your values, understanding the market and customers that you want to go after, understanding the environment that you operate in, understanding your competition and much more.

You, like other companies would do something known as the “Strategic Planning” process, where you would answer three high level questions:

  1. Where are you now as a company?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How will you get there?

It’s from this strategic analysis that you conduct that will you put together goals for your company and only then put together the plan to execute on those goals. In short, you wouldn’t blindly execute without keeping the big picture at the back of your head.

The operations for your company would follow this strategy.

Once you have a clear strategy in place, you can then operate the company, launch programs and projects, recruit people, monitor metrics, put budgets in place, etc. etc.

Additionally, you would most likely come back to your strategy and operations each year to check how you did against your plan, continue to set new goals for the new year and continue to grow your business.

So, if companies can put in so much effort to ensure that they have a strategy in place before they execute, why don’t we as individuals have our own career strategy in place before we find our next job?

Additionally, why don’t we do a gut check each year on our own careers and figure out how we’re measuring against our plan?

Most people look for “jobs”. They don’t seek “careers”. I urge you to think differently. If you want to take your career to the next level; if you want to find your dream opportunity and if you want to get to executive status in your career as soon as possible, then don’t just find your next job. Put together your career plan.

A job is nothing but a short term tactical move that will give you short term benefits, but will not give you a long-term career.

“Career Planning” is what six and seven figure executives do year after year in their careers to ensure that they can accelerate their careers fast. If things are not according to plan, they make changes fast. Today is your opportunity to follow the same strategies as these six and seven figure executives and it starts with the career planning process.

Mission, Vision and Values (MVV)

Companies’ start their strategic planning process by defining their MVV i.e. their Mission (M), Vision (V), and Values (V).

Let’s define what these mean first:

Vision – A company’s vision is its long-term dream. It’s the north star that the company is going after.

Mission – A company’s mission is its current task at hand to achieve that vision.

Values – Values are the rules by which decisions are made on a day to day basis.

We’ll use this framework to develop the high-level career plan for our lives.

Let’s now discuss how to map your career plan to this mission, vision and values framework. This entire process is summarized in Figure 2.

Vision

The first step of the career planning process is to define the vision for your life. This is done by doing two important things.

  1. Defining your long-term goals.
  2. Defining your ideal job criteria.

Both these steps take you into dreamland and give you the opportunity to idealize your ultimate career move and the ideal job you would love to have.

Once you have this defined is when you can now move onto figuring out your values as an individual.

Values

The second step of the career planning process is to define your values as an individual. This again consists of two steps.

  1. Define your preferences as an individual i.e. the way you behave, the way you relate to others, the way you make decisions, your preferences in terms of office environment etc. etc. These are elements of the culture that you will fit into well.
  2. Think about all the activities that you do and determine what are your likes and dislikes. People tend to do the things that they like well, so finding a career that can accentuate these strengths will get you closer to your vision faster.

At the highest level, 1 is about culture and 2 is about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Once you have your vision and values in place, it’s time to move onto your mission i.e. the next move that will take you closer to your vision.

Mission

Your mission is now all about finding that next move that aligns with your vision and your values as a person.

You start by following the right job search strategy to interview with multiple places. Yes, you heard that right. You’ve got to find jobs in such a way that you have multiple interviews lined up. Then you ace those interviews, get multiple job offers and pick one that aligns with the vision for your career and your values.

This is accomplished by following steps 2, 3 and 4 of the 5-step dream career blueprint.

The 9 x 3 Career Planning Blueprint

This brings us to the 9 x 3 Career Planning Blueprint that is summarized in Figure 3. The entire Mission, Vision and Values framework is summarized as nine core steps and three acceleration steps that you need to consistently follow year after year to achieve your dream career.

1.    Step 1 – Understand your preferences (Values)

2.    Step 2 – Understand your likes and dislikes (Values)

3.    Step 3 – Determine your long-term goals (Vision)

4.    Step 4 – Determine your ideal job criteria (Vision)

5.    Step 5 – Determine your next move (Mission)

6.    Step 6 – Pick your job search strategy (Mission)

7.    Step 7 – Create options i.e. multiple job offers (Mission)

Figure 2 – The MVV Framework as Applied to Your Career

Dream Career Planning.png

Figure 3 – The 9 Step Career Planning Framework

MVV.png

8.    Step 8 – Pick a choice i.e. decide which job to accept (Mission)

9.    Step 9 – Repeat each year (Repeat)

Don’t forget to consistently do step 9 each year – reevaluate. Remember the three things that companies do each year to grow their business. They answer the three important questions each year:

  1. Where are you now as a company?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How will you get there?

You too must answer the same three questions as an individual.

  1. Where are you now in your career?
  2. Where do you want to be?
  3. How do you plan to get there?

It’s only through this constant introspection each year that you will be able to take your career from “average” to “executive”.

But following the nine steps is not enough. Remember the three acceleration steps from chapter 2 and Section 6. If you want to truly accelerate your career, you will have to get motivated about this process, you will have to get organized and you will have to be consistent. Apply these three acceleration steps to the nine core career planning steps and see your career accelerate in no time.

In the next nine posts, we’re going to focus on these nine steps in detail. By the end of this section, you will have a clear career plan in place and you’ll be upwards and onwards with your career.

Time to execute. 

CCT#2 - How to Accelerate Your Career Growth?

From "Average" to "Executive" Book on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Average-Executive-Plan-Execute-Career/dp/1521536511/

In this video, Kunal discusses 3 additional steps that will help you further accelerate your career in no time. These should be followed along with the 5 core steps.

How to Accelerate Your Career Growth?

So far, I’ve shown you the 5 core steps that you should do regularly every year. If you do so, I have no doubt that you will see your career accelerate in no time and will position you for long term career success and wealth.

The biggest issue that most people face as they go through the entire process is that they give up too soon. I’ve laid out an entire plan for you, however, I never said that it was easy. If it were that easy everyone would be the VP, Director, or an executive in their company. The truth is that only a few get there. Why? Because of their ability to overcome any rejection along the way. Because of their ability to get organized. Because of their ability to come back to the ring every day. That’s exactly what I’ll cover in the 3 acceleration steps.

The 3 Acceleration Steps

Six and seven figure executives know that the process to getting to the top is not going to be easy. There are going to be pitfalls along the way that they must overcome.

These 3 steps are all about ensuring that they don’t sight of the vision. The 3 acceleration steps are:

Get Motivated

This step is all about getting your mind right through the process. It’s all about setting you up for peak performance as you go through your 5 core steps and not giving up during downtimes. It’s about looking at the entire career seeking process as a big game of numbers and attaching no emotions to the process. You’ve probably heard the old saying that executives are thick skinned. Good. Now it’s time for you to be thick skinned, move all the stupid people out of your way and execute on your plan.

Get Organized

This step is all about getting organized. How are you tracking your career plan and progress? How are you keeping track of your target companies, your network, hiring managers etc. etc.? How are you following up them regularly? Is your calendar up to date? Are you scheduling time to network? Have you put together your 90-day plan? All this requires stellar prioritization and organization. That’s exactly what this step is all about.

Stay Consistent

Finally, you’ve got to stay consistent. You’ve got to come back every day and slowly push yourself in the right direction. Just like a company expects its employees to come to work every day, you’ve got to come back to the game every single day and focus on YOU, your career, your brand, your job search, your interviews, your 90-180-day plan etc. etc. However bad things get, however long you’ve been out of a job, or a promotion, you’ve got to come back every day to the ring and give you absolute best.

These 3 steps if applied consistently on a day to day basis to the five core steps, I have no doubt will take your career from average to the next level.

CCT#1 - How to Master Your Career in 5 Steps?

From "Average" to "Executive" Book on Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Average-Executive-Plan-Execute-Career/dp/1521536511/ 

In this video, Kunal discusses 5 steps that you should follow one step at a time each year to take your career to the next level. 

How to Master Your Career in 5 Steps?

Most students and professionals don’t think of their careers in terms of a blueprint. Instead they equate careers to “having a good job”. Yes, your job is part of your career, but it not the only part of your career. Instead, I’d like to present in this chapter an alternative definition of thinking about your career. I’d like to present to you “ACCELERATE – The 5 x 3 Dream Career Blueprint” that consists of five core steps and three acceleration steps. In this chapter, we will cover the five core steps and then in chapter 2 we will discuss how to accelerate your results three times using three acceleration steps.

The five core steps are all jotting down your long-term goals and putting a plan in place to achieve them. It is also about smaller plans to execute and achieve your long-term goals. But just applying the five core steps are not enough. To truly accelerate your career, there are three additional steps that need to be applied consistently. Applying these three steps consistently through the process will ensure that you see absolute acceleration of your results.

Figure 1 summarizes the entire process in detail. 

Figure 1 - The 5 x 3 Dream Career Blueprint.png

The 5 Core Steps

Step 1 – Create a Career Plan

I’d like for you to imagine for a second that you are an organization or a company and not an individual. Think about how companies operate for a second. Companies don’t proceed with the execution of their business without a clear strategic plan. Executives spend tons of time, before a fiscal year, defining the company’s vision, mission, values, and then defining a strategy to compete in their target market. From this strategy flows an operational plan to execute on the strategy and to get results. Through the year and over the next few years, executives and teams work hard to execute on that strategic plan and achieve company goals. However, companies don’t just stop there. They constantly review how they are doing as part of achieving their goals. They consistently take a pulse on the status of that plan – irrespective of whether they achieved their planned goals or not. If they achieved their goals, then next year, companies will set even more aggressive goals. If they didn’t achieve their goals, then will relook at what went wrong and fix their plan as necessary. 

The point: Companies don’t execute until they have a strategy in place.

Now, bring yourself back to YOU. If we keep the same analogy in place, there should be no reason that professionals execute on their career without a clear strategy in place. There should be no reason that individuals not take a pulse on their plan regularly and adjust or set aggressive goals each year. Yes, even for their careers.

This strategy needs to be defined as part of your career plan, like the strategic plan that organizations kick the year off with. Unfortunately, most people look for jobs. This is equivalent to a company going ahead and executing on a day to day basis, without a strategy in place and without a direction in which they want to go. Imagine how disruptive that would be to an organization.

This is step 1 – Create a Career Plan. The goal of the career plan is to define your values as an individual, your vision (or long-term goal for your life) and your mission to get closer towards your vision (the plan to execute on your vision).

When you don’t go through this process, you land up taking up a job that you don’t love, or you work for the paycheck or you don’t get paid what your worth or you’re not satisfied with the difference you are making in this world etc. etc. instead of truly creating a career for yourself that is meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling. The result – wasted human capital, wasted monetary capital, wasted time, and wasted opportunities to gain long term wealth.

Instead, step back, focus on the big picture first and use that to take your career to the next level. Conclusion: Start with step 1 – Put your career plan together before proceeding with your next job.  

Step 2 – Master the Job Search

The outcome of step 1 will be of the following: A long term career plan (based on your values, your dream life etc. etc.) and a short term next move that you need to make to get there. Your next move consists of: The job title, the position, the industry, and location that you are going to target as part of your job search. This doesn’t have to be a new company. It could just mean a promotion in your current role or a new department within your current company. It could also mean going back to school to get another job.

This is the first step towards operating on your strategy. You are now executing. Finding that next job is next. Unfortunately, most people search for jobs incorrectly. They fall for the classic mistake in the book of applying on a company’s website or on job boards. Those techniques don’t work. Period. 80% of jobs are filled through something known as the “hidden job market”. If you’re new to this term and are surprised, don’t worry about it. We’ll be covering it in detail. Six and seven figure executives only tap into this hidden job market. Your ability to tap into this hidden job market is the key to success in the job search world. Executives know what this hidden job market is and take full advantage of the same.

Secondly, candidates create generic resumes and cover letters that are used to apply to tons of jobs. This process simply doesn’t work. Hiring managers are scanning tons of resumes daily and unless they find a pretty close match to what they want, there is a low chance that they are going to get back to you. You’ve got to stand out from the crowd. Instead, think of creating a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) that is targeted to your ideal next job. Also, instead of thinking in terms of cover letters, think in terms of “Value Proposition Letters”, that indicate to employers what value you can add to their teams. Again, if you have no idea what this is – don’t sweat it. We’ll get there.

Thirdly, candidates work directly with Human Resources (HR) of their target company. Another big mistake. The job of HR is simply to support the hiring team in the process, by filtering out resumes that don’t match the job criteria. They can say NO to you, but they can’t say YES. In fact, most HR folks don’t even know what hiring managers are looking for. Instead focus on going after the hiring managers or other decision makers. Your goal as part of the job search process is to connect and build a relationship with your hiring manager, get your profile in front of them and showcase the value you can bring to them and their teams

Another issue is the lack of “Thought Leadership” that today’s candidates showcase. In today’s competitive job search world, you will need to stand out and provide “Thought Leadership” on what you can offer to prospective employers. This one technique, again used by six and seven figure executives is crucial to differentiating yourself from the crowd, so that employers already know what you can bring to be table as they are researching you in today’s social world.

Finally, you need retrain your mind to think of yourself as a “Product” and a complete package that is to be presented to employers. This package includes your resume, value proposition letter (VPL) and your thought leadership. The resume and VPL is the “Product” that a company would offer to its customers. The “Thought Leadership” is like marketing and brand building that companies will do to attract customers. Just like a company, you are attracting companies to your company a.k.a. YOU.

Step 3 – Ace Your Interviews

The outcome of step 2 is nothing but several job interviews in your desired job position, title, industry, and location all defined as part of your career plan. Next comes the phase of acing those interviews. Highly talented candidates lose out on opportunities due to their lack of preparation when it comes to interviews. As mentioned before, today’s job market is highly competitive. With technology, has come the ability for companies to easily outsource their work. Making a fulltime hire is a big decision for the company and so they are being extremely selective. That’s why you need to walk into your job search with utmost confidence and answer every question with ease.

How does this happen?

Simple: you need to put yourself into the shoes of the company and truly understand what they are looking for. Then you’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to prepare hard. This sounds simple in theory, but many professionals don’t spend the time doing this before their job interviews. The outcome, lost opportunities.

The big takeaway from this step is to focus on preparing well for your upcoming job interview and truly understand what this company cares for aka their problems. Then present yourself as a solution to their problems. Do it by thoroughly researching the market, the company, the interview process. Do it by studying and practicing. Do it by asking the right questions. Do it by. preparing yourself well for interview day.

Step 4 – Evaluate Your Offers and Negotiate

The outcome of step 3 (hopefully) is many job offers. This is a great outcome and many of you should be proud to be there. But your job is not over yet. To ensure that you enjoy the benefits of a successful long-term career and do what you love, you must objectively evaluate your job offers and pick a company that matches your values we defined in step 1, when we created your career plan. That was the whole point of it, right?

Once you pick a job you want to go with, you’ll need to think about the offer and whether negotiation makes sense. Most professionals don’t negotiate their offers. Why not? You should take the time to think deeply about their offer, evaluate the offer to your career plans and negotiate as necessary in the right fashion and with confidence. At the end of the day, you need to make sure that you get paid what you are worth and this is exactly what this step is about.

Step 5 – Accelerate Your Career/Get Promoted

So, you’ve picked a job after your evaluation process, negotiated the offer and everything was accepted for both sides. You’re happy that this job and offer is getting you closer to your long term as outlined in step 1. Congratulations. This is the time to take it easy and breathe a little.

But don’t get too complacent. We’ve got to work to do.

Step 5 is an extremely crucial step. The first 90 to 180 days in any company are going to establish you as a leader in the organization and position yourself for long term success. This is equivalent to the “under commit and over deliver” concept that you’ve probably heard off. When you join a company, the company doesn’t know what you can offer, outside of the interview process. It’s your job to prove to them that you mean business, that you can deliver. You want them to start trusting you and put you into the “Insider Circle”. The first 90 to 180 days will define that.

Most people think that getting promoted is outside of their hands. I beg to differ. I truly believe that if you have a strong plan in place and the discipline to execute, you can position yourself for a promotion.

In fact, this is done using a 3-step framework: 1. By doing great work 2. By consistently promoting yourself and 3. By networking internally and externally.

The outcome – faster career growth compared to any of your peers. 

Repeat

The final step in our process is “Repeat”. This is where the magic comes into play. Most professionals go through their careers in jobs that they do not evaluate yearly. This is equivalent to a company going through their execution each year without taking a pulse on how they are doing and what makes sense to do over the next year. There is a reason why we hear all about Microsoft’s and Google’s results in the news and what their plans for the next year are. The point is that organizations take a pulse each year on how they did and what their plans are for the next year.

That’s exactly what top executives do each year and what professionals should do.

Each year you need to ask yourself this one question:

“Will what I do over the next year take me closer to my long-term goals?”

If the answer is yes, proceed with where you are. If not, you’ve got to go through the entire process once again. This means move departments, look for another job, go back to school. Do something that will get your closer to your long term and commit to it whole heartedly towards your long term.

That’s exactly how progress is made fast. When you take a pulse regularly on where you are and adjust depending on how closer or further away you are from your long-term goals, you won’t even realize how close you will be towards your vision.