GNcareers, from Gulf News

Building a career road map

Building a career road mapImage Credit: Supplied

Although the right education can put you at the first step of your professional ladder, developing a career takes a lot more than just a diploma. Most important, your career should follow a clear path where each step takes you higher than where you start. And while setbacks are inevitable, those who focus on each and every decision related to their careers are more likely to avoid big career detriments such as job loss and stagnation, and recover quicker after setbacks.

The question is: What does it take to progress in your career path? First of all, you need to be clear about which career you'd like to pursue. If you're in a phase where you've graduated or trying different things to see what appeals to you most, you probably will be set back a few years compared to someone who has a clear direction. But whether you start now or later, it is important that once your heart and mind are set on a career, you do whatever you can to keep pushing in the right direction.

Here are a few points to keep in mind:

Critical decisions

Diversions in a career can happen when you're trying to make a critical decision such as taking a different job that pays a higher salary, offers better conditions or status, etc or stick with your current job. These decisions should be carefully considered. A swing outside your career can cost you several years of experience and make it complicated to return to where you left off. Similarly, if you make a decision of quitting a job for whatever reason without having anything else in hand, you again may be risking a big career gap that ends up causing you trouble in keeping up with your peers, and where you want to be within your professional life.

Rounded career

Advancing in your career shouldn't only be limited to advancing from one position to another, although that is important. You also need to keep tabs on how much knowledge and rounded experience you're gaining. With that in mind, you still must not stick with a job that doesn't add actual knowledge or experience. If your job has turned into a routine and you're not achieving a considerable progress, it may be time to look for a new adventure. Keep in mind, however, it is important to balance your desire to move on with the length of your service at the job and how that will look like on your resume.

Fixing setbacks

As mentioned, career setbacks can and will happen. You must be prepared to deal with them head on to make sure they don't end up derailing your career. For example, if you lose your job for a fault of yours or not, make it a priority to return to the job market as soon as possible, even if that involves some compromises — in terms of money or convenience. Your focus in a situation like that should be on how to control damages quickly and efficiently. No matter how much stress and uncertainty you may be facing, concentrate on your goal of keeping your career on track. Those who are always on the move to advance their career are winners. In addition, don't underestimate the experience you accumulate over years of pursuing skills continuously and building a career on a solid foundation.

Communicate your story

Employers are always interested in professionals who seem to be committed to their careers. But, unfortunately, a poorly written resume could fail to communicate your commitment and your career progression you've achieved. That is why it is important that you read your CV and your resume to make sure that they tell your story. Steer clear of listing each job description you've had and instead use what you've done as building blocks to where you're now. In addition, make similar links in your cover letter. When employers see that your job application and interest fall as a logical step forward, they are more likely to think that you do deserve that job. This could help you as you seek a job that is up the ladder, and also can assist you as you will be seen as possessing a record of continued achievement.

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a Seattle-based editor