Career Planning:
Start 2015 on the Right Track

Career Planning: Start 2015 on the Right Track
By Kellie Shadle

The New Year is here which means it’s an ideal time to think about your career plans for 2015. Mapping out your goals and creating specific action items will help set you on the right track. Here’s how:

How do you see your career taking shape in the coming year? Do you envision yourself in the same, or a completely different role? Will you work full-time or freelance? What are your salary goals? What skills do you want to master?

Thoughtful career planning requires focus and if you’re like many busy creative professionals, you haven’t had the time to give it much thought. However, with a whole new year ahead of us, now is an opportune time to map out your career goals for 2015. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Consider Your Likes and Dislikes

Before you do anything, do some soul-searching. What exactly do you want to be doing on a daily basis and under what conditions? Do you see yourself working for an agency or in-house? Do you want to work independently or as part of a team? Do you prefer working in an office or from the comfort of your home? Which of your skills do you want to use more often in the coming year? How important is making more money to you? These are questions that will help you get started.

Write it Down

Let’s say that within the next year, you want to secure a position as an in-house web designer. Great – you’ve got your goal. Now, what will it take to get there? Map out your goals … literally. Put them down on paper or create some sort of visual. This will help clarify your vision by establishing both short and long-term plans, like learning how to code or developing responsive design skills.

Take Action

For each goal, write down specific action items with deadlines that will help you meet your objective. For example:

  • Research potential employers and salary ranges for in-house web designers by the end of next week.
  • Schedule three informational interviews by the end of February to get a sense of what type of industry you might like.
  • Attend one AIGA meeting per month to build your network and keep up with industry trends.

Use Your Resources

There are likely people within your network who are in a great position to help you with your career plan. If your goal is to move up in your current firm, talk to your manager and outline some concrete steps for achieving a promotion or assuming more responsibility. Be open to suggestions in areas where you need to build your skills in order to advance.

Be Flexible

Consider career planning a work in progress. Check off goals as you accomplish them and add new ones regularly. Know that setbacks will occur and you may veer off path from time to time. When this happens, remind yourself what you enjoy doing most to get back on track.

Kellie Shadle is the district public relations manager for The Creative Group (and its parent company, Robert Half). She has nearly 10 years of experience in PR and communications with a background in agency, in-house and nonprofit organizations. Kellie is a Denver native and enjoys all things Colorado, including exploring local mountain towns and sampling some of Denver’s best microbrews.