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I want to talk about the important concept of Strategic Career Planning. It is one of the foundational  elements to the process and art of successfully managing your career.

Strategic Career Planning is much like a corporation’s strategic plan. It is not a one and done process. It will evolve and change as your career develops over the years. But just as you would not want to lead a business without a strategic plan, you sure as heck do not want to trust your life and livelihood to what may, or may not, be around the next corner.

As my father used to say: “Son life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” And those words of wisdom sum up the importance of having a Career Strategic Plan also known as a CSP.

Every career path, every job in the field you choose, requires a set of credentials, experiences and competences.

Most young managers and executives establish a goal of what they are trying to accomplish.

As I said, over time, that goal will probably change. That is certainly the case with my career in which I went from being an editor, crime writer and investigative reporter to being the first director of Hermann Hospital’s Life Flight program, the national marketing manager of the aircraft company’s healthcare division, and later a senior  executive with a hospital system’s multi-hospital network. Today, all my experiences and skills have led me to the world of executive search.

For some of my friends, my career journey was fairly improbable and they may be right. But to me it makes perfect sense, it is extremely logical. To be a great search consultant, you have to enjoy research, you need the curiosity to dig deep into someone’s career performance, you must understand operational and marketing issues and you must be able to sell yourself to find new business. My career path touched all of those competences.

But to be honest, I did not have a plan. I was the beneficiary of some enormous luck — of being in the right place at the right time an amazing number of times — and then delivering positive results. However, the odds of my replicating my career in today’s market are somewhere between slim and nonexistent.

The business of business is changing across multiple industries, including advertising, publishing, retail and healthcare, to name a few.

Managing your career in this new normal economy requires a strategic approach that incorporates an ongoing understanding of changing market conditions and evolving skills and competences.

So I would argue that now, more than ever, you have to plan ahead to be able to take advantage of new opportunities.

You write a Strategic Career Plan much in the way you write a long-term Strategic Business Plan for a corporation, it just takes a lot less work.

  • You assess the market, looking for emerging trends, regulatory changes and industry developments that will impact your career trajectory
  • You analyze your strengths and weaknesses, from your education and certifications to your various competences. If you are familiar with our Nancy Swain’s Value Proposition for career transition you can accomplish this analysis with ease.
    • You identify scope of responsibility goals, geographic preferences and quality-of-life requirements. These are central to taking charge of your career brand.
    • And you set out goals and accomplishments for each quarter of the year and then you assess your performance, honestly recording where performance improvements are needed and what additional training may be necessary.
  • Annually, you reassess. You ask yourself if you are on the right track and whether the work you are doing is fulfilling as you imagined it would be.

Over time, you will tweak this plan, adjusting it to reflect the evolution of your job and the changing industrial climate.

It is a process. It is a discipline, and when you combine this with Strategic Networking, you can have more control over your career.

In short, you cannot sit back and wait for people to come to you, and that means you have to have a plan.

Sunday is a great day in the Self household.

The Sunday papers.

Yes, I read papers online but they are still a source of enormous satisfaction and relaxation.

There are a couple of sections that I love to read in the Sunday edition. Besides my long-time favorite “Corner Office”, Adam Bryant’s interesting interviews with top executives on great lessons learned, leadership and how they hire.

I also enjoy reading the wedding announcements and, yes, the obituaries.

The obituaries are a place of wonder for me because they tell stories of life’s accomplishments. They are mini biographies and there are almost always several wonderful takeaways about devotion to family, duty, honor and insights in a life well lived, both the very famous and those who were notable for business or social accomplishments but lived otherwise  normal lives.

The wedding announcements are unlike those you might read in most other newspapers. Here is what is different. There are a couple of items that always make me smile.

“The Bride will keep her name.” That statement is more common in announcements featuring older Generate Xers and Baby Boomers.

Then there is the practice of disclosing that one or both parties at the altar had previous marriages. Yes, you heard me.

Here is one of my favorites from a couple of weeks ago: “The Bride’s first marriage ended in divorce.”

Then, after a description of the groom, his family and their ancestral and business accomplishments, there was the stand alone paragraph that stunned me:

“The groom’s previous marriages ended in divorce.” Apparently there had been three.

As I paused to take it all in, a thought popped into my mid: The bookies are going to have a field day with this one.