By Ronald Kling, GCDF
Senior Manager, Career Services, APUS
It is hard to overstate the importance of having a direction and roadmap for your career. As the adage goes, “you can’t miss fast enough to win,” and this certainly applies to those in the job market. Many job seekers, out of an understandable sense of urgency, apply to any job for which they are even remotely qualified, oftentimes with little thought given to how they would enjoy or succeed in the role, or their ultimate career ambitions.
Naturally, after having submitted dozens (if not hundreds) of applications for a myriad of positions with no success, these people become extremely discouraged with their search. For those people interested in working in the government, with its lengthy application and assessment process, this is perhaps even more true.
It is for this reason that having both a goal and roadmap for your career is of such vital importance. The goal is important as it identifies your ultimate destination, whereas the roadmap outlines the steps you will take along the way.
For example, when planning a road trip from Virginia to California, most people do not simply get in their car and begin to drive, but instead, first identify the route and locations where they would likely stop along the way. The search for a career should be approached in much the same fashion.
Through self-assessment and meaningful discussions, a person can begin to identify their career goals and ultimate destination. Having explored possible careers and identified their target, they can then determine any gaps in their skills, education and experience that would prevent them from hitting this goal. This gap analysis and the plan to remove these gaps is what serves as the framework for a career roadmap.
Armed with both their goal and the roadmap to reach it, people can then begin a much more focused and targeted approach to their job search, even when attempting to solve a need for immediate employment. To demonstrate this in action, let’s imagine a recent IT graduate unsure of what direction they should take.
Following the completion of an assessment with a Career Services professional, they determine they would ultimately like to become an IT Project Manager. Rather than applying directly for an IT Project Manager position or for a position completely unrelated to this field, this person could focus their search on Database Administrator or Networking and Computer Systems Administrator roles. While these might not be this person’s ideal position, they understand that with practical experience in these fields and with continued professional development or education, they would be positioned to become a Database Architect or Computer Network Architect, which are one step closer to their ultimate goal of being an IT Project Manager.
[Related article: Struggling with Indecision? Career Exploration to the Rescue!]
So while the process of self-assessment, identifying a goal, and creating a career roadmap might appear to be intimidating or time intensive, it is vital in ensuring that you are maximizing not only the time spent searching for positions, but also the time spent in the positions once you land a job.
Do you already have your career road map planned out? Enter our Career Roadmap Challenge in Portfolium October 1 through November 30 for a chance to win prizes! If you are still searching for your career direction and don’t know where to start, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for help!