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You may still be wondering which career to opt for, but once you are in the big bad world out' there, you may need to do some more serious career planning to stay ahead.
"Environment is so dynamic that you cannot plan when you are going to plan," says Purvi Sheth, vice-president of Shilputsi Consultants, an executive search firm in Mumbai. What does it mean to plan your career? Simply put, it's your ability to look inward and ask "W next?" Most people confuse career planning with a mere job switch; actually, it's a more detailed activity that maps your skills against personal objective and industry trends to set goals in your current career, or plans for beginning a transition to a new one. Start on career planning if you aren't sure your current job will last long, or your skill set are out of depth with the requirements of your organisation (this is rampant in technology-driven sectors). It's time to introspect even if your current job has ceased to be intellectually stimulating. "Whether you move or stay on in the job will depend on your personal strengths, preferences and financial security," say Parveen Shaikh, Head psychologist at YoungBuzz India, a career guidance company in Mumbai. So, how does one go about planning a career?

Here are 10 steps to keep in mind.

MAKE CAREER PLANNING AN ANNUAL EVENT
Set aside a single day every year for career introspection. Plan a retreat for yourself—even if it's in your own house, Block out influences from friends and family. For a change, focus on your career by yourself—ehsy you really want out of it, and your life. During one such review, for example, a 35-year-old investment banker in Mumbai— who'd sought professional help from YoungBuzz—realised his passion lay in film making, and eventually turned an ad film-maker.

TRACE YOUR CAREER PATH SINCE THE LAST SESSION
This could be a referral point for planning ahead. Ask yourself: Am I happy with the current career path? Could I have done things better? Where can I improve? A 42-year-old marketing manager at a Mumbai based fast moving consumer durable company found a mismatch between his current work experience and goal as a "profit centre head". He realised he lacked experience in operations, finance and had never led a team with multi functional skills. His next job thus was as a business unit head in a small retail firm.

CHOOSE A MENTOR
Typically, it should be someone from the work-place—perhaps a senior colleague or your boss. However, it could even be your professor at the management institute, someone in the family or one of your friends. At each stage in your career, it could be a different person. "Your mentor must be one you can depend on for direction when you are confused," says Brigitta George Abraham, a human resource consultant in Mumbai.

MATCH YOUR NEEDS WITH YOUR CAREER PATH
Ten years ago, when Ajoy Krishnamurthy, ECO of Sankalp retail value store—the master franchisee of My Dollar Store in India—applied for a job with Shoppers' Stop, his sole objective was to relocate to Mumbai and get married. Two years later, when the retail major did offer him a job, that need had passed and Krishna Murthy joined on his own terms.

REVIEW YOUR GOALS
Set new short-term (in the coming year) and long-term (beyond a year) goals, examine how far you've achieved the earlier once, and the reasons you fell short. Identify your unique selling proposition each time. At the start of a career, it's your potential. Mid-way, the track record becomes important. Reflect on today's priorities.

MONITOR GROWTH SECTORS
A career path that is expanding today could easily shrink tomorrow. List out the emerging sectors, their job prospects and how best your fit in. Explore educational opportunities that could help attune your skill sets to the new requirements. One word of caution: look before you leap. "Check the revance of a sector to your skill sets and goals before your take the plunge.".

EXAMINE YOUR HOBBIES
Leisurely pursuits often give an insight into future career paths. It did so for Shantanu Moitra. The 37-year-old music director of the acclaimed film, Parineeta, was a client services manager with Contract Advertising in New Delhi, who composed music on the side. It wasn't until he was once supervising a recording for a client's jingle that Moitra decided to switch careers.

RECORD YOUR PAST ACHIEVEMENTS
Most people don't, and then struggle to create a power ful resume when it's time to search for a new job. Sometimes, reviewing past accomplishments remind you of forgotten successes, one or more of which may set off planning a career shift. "Mid-career you often lose sight of your wining tactics," Recalling past achievements could help regain them."

LOOK FOR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Don't get dated in job. "Every six months, have something new to show in your CV," says George Abraham. Categorise yourself in terms of skill sets, rather than job titles. For example, one job seeker was stuck because she'd identified herself as a reporter. Once she looked beyond the title, she could see she had multiple skills such as writing, editing and production which could easily apply to a variety of jobs.

RIDE OUT BURNOUT BOUTS
According to Purvi Sheth, burnout is usually a replacement term for interim tiredness in a job, which could stem from sheer monotony. Use the career planning session to rekindle eroding passion. Explore new challenges and come up with new ideas. Throw caution to the winds and take a career break if you wish. Only, return in time for the next career planning session and set new goals.

 
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