Career plans, let's face it, are boring. It's like you really should know where you want to be five years from now.
But in this economy, a career plan gives you a weapon to flip the traditional job search paradigm: you desperately seeking employment through the privilege of talking with a hiring manager. Perhaps the career plan doesn't reach out for the infamous five years, but only through your desired position and the next one you want to do. That plan, by the way, is light years more than most people looking for jobs or in jobs have right now.
A Career Plan Changes Your Job Search Perspective
Having a career plan changes the job search perspective. Not passive and hoping for the best, having a career plan means you know the type of position you want and the companies that can provide that work. A career plan says that if I want to do X type of work and I can do that with these Y companies, I can now target those companies to find the type of work I want to do.
In other words, the career plan can narrow your search focus and allow you to dig deep into your target companies looking for the work you want to do.
A Career Plan Changes the Interview Perspective
In an interview, the person doing the interviewing has all the power. There are multiple candidates trying to get the exact position you are interviewing for right now. There is huge effort by all the candidates to show why they are the best person for the job.
The hiring manager peers out over a vast array of candidates, carefully looks into the eyes of every one and then chooses the winner. And all the other candidates lose. That is power.
But think, for a minute, of being in your interview with the hiring manager. Think about the fact that you have a career plan of which the position you are interviewing for meets your career criteria. Now you can say something totally different than any other candidate out there:
"Mr. Hiring Manager, I just want you to know that you are part of my career plan. But the truth of the matter is that there are other positions in other companies that also fit into that career plan. So what I'd like to explore today is how I can contribute to your goals, but also how this position can support my career plan."
You don't hear that coming out of a candidate's mouth every day, do you? It changes the power structure and evens it out. You are saying that the interview is a two-way street, not a one-way supplication to the hiring gods. You are saying that there is a requirement of the hiring manager to prove that the position will help your career goals. You are saying that this position with this company is not the only company that can fulfill your career goals and the hiring manager would be fortunate to hire you.
We Need to Take Control of Our Careers
The Great Recession devastated the workplace with millions of job losses that won't be made up any time soon, despite some great numbers starting to come from the monthly hiring statistics. Most people are stung from the loss of their jobs and are simply in it for the paycheck. All understandable, but those positions are not ones that help put your career on offense.
To get your career off defense to offense, you need to know the type of work you love to do. You will have to have a plan that at least shows what you are looking to do now and what the next step is that you want to do in your career.
So you do some soul-searching. Then you create a plan. And when the time is right in the interview, you say that the hiring manager is a part of your career plan - and so are other companies. At that point, you will realize that the interviewing world just changed for the better.
Scot Herrick is the author of I've Landed My Dream Job--Now What??? and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. CubeRules.com provides online career management training for workers who typically work in a corporate cubicle. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.