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You've gotta have a plan, if you don't have a plan, how you gonna have a dream come true?

28th January 2013

I've been working with several young people lately to support them in making big decisions about their next steps. Whether they are 17 or 26, they have all been considering whether to study, travel, volunteer, find temporary work or commit to that first step on the long trerm career ladder, or whether the next academic year should include several of these activities.

Some lightbulb moments have occurred when they've understood the implications of timing and the need to plan ahead. The academic year and the recruitment year don't always overlap! It is perfectly acceptable to decide that you don't want to start looking just yet for that first career role but my questions to all of you who are heading for the end of your current academic studies this summer are:

What happens next? 

How are you going to make it happen?

What do the timetables for academic and career recruitment mean for your 'gap year'?

How are you going to add value to your CV by travelling, volunteering, or working in a temporary role and how will you demonstrate that to a future recruiter?

What skills/ experiences/ new understanding do you need to gain now that will benefit your longer term career plans and how do you plan to gain them?

That last question includes a delicate little word that many jobseekers find difficult: " plan".  I changed the words of the old song in this blog's title to emphasise that dreams without a plan will remain just dreams. I also work with a number of older people who are currently dissatisfied with their jobs and wonder how they got to that position.Usually, when helping them describe their career plan so far, we find that they never had any. Especially when the job market is tough, it's easy to just grab the first job that was offered to you and then perhaps grow out of it without having taken time to reflect on what you are doing and learning and how you continue to add value to your future job prospects. Answering the questions above will start to clarify your thinking about what you could be doing to earn your living while adding value to your skill sets, your long term career, your future employers and society in general.

If you'd like some more detailed help with planning the next stages of your career, then take a look at 'Nail That Job, the complete guide for the less-experienced jobseeker'. The first two chapters are packed with activities for helping you discover exactly how to reach your long term career plans one step at a time and making sure that all work experience, travel, volunteering or temporary work builds to support those long term plans. You might also benefit from some personalised coaching; just drop me an email - sian@nailthatjob.co.uk or ring me on 01789 740948. I'd love to hear what your career dreams are and help you make them come true.

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