Planning - Avoiding dead end careers
Stress Management from Mind Tools
In your use of the Job
Analysis tool, you may or may not have
identified a good onward career path from
your current position.
Well-established, successful companies
often have clear career paths, particularly
if they rely on attracting good people and
keeping them working hard. Even in these
companies, people can get too valuable in
their job to be allowed to move forward
in their careers. Employers can let the
short-term, tactical problems of replacing
key staff get in the way of ongoing career
development. This can be intensely frustrating
for the person affected.
Similarly, organizations undergoing change
often do not have clear career paths. Where
an organization is growing quickly, this
is not normally a problem. As organizations
grow, they need more and more people at
all levels. This means that if people work
hard and have the right skills, energy and
aptitude, they can be promoted quickly as
new roles open up.
The Importance of a Clear Career
However, with more mature organizations,
a lack of obvious career paths is a serious
problem, particularly if you are at the
start if your career. At this stage of your
career, you need to be gaining experience
as quickly as possible so that you can keep
up with your peers.
Without good career development opportunities,
you may not achieve your long-term potential:
Many good, challenging jobs quite legitimately
need the right experience, and you will
not get these jobs unless you have had the
opportunity to accumulate this experience.
If you fail to reach your potential, you
can obviously expect to feel bored, frustrated
and disillusioned, causing you severe stress
in the medium-term.
If you have a sufficiently clear career
path in front of you, you are happy with
it, and you are well positioned to take
advantage of it, then just keep on doing
the things that you need to do to perform
excellently. Keep an eye open for opportunities,
and be ready to take them as they come.
If after conducting the Job
Analysis we discussed earlier, and after
talking it through with your boss, you still
do not have an obvious, credible career
path open to you, then you need to take
charge of your own career planning and progression.
This tool helps you to take stock of where
you are now, look at the opportunities open
to you, and plan how to take advantage of
Using the Tool:
To use this tool, work through the process
- Look at Your Current Position:
It is important to understand where you
are now so that you are realistic in identifying
the options open to you, and so that you
use all of the resources available to
you. A good place to start with this is
to inventory your knowledge, skills, experience
- Think Through What You Want
to Achieve In Your Career:
setting page gives you a useful technique
for thinking through what you want to
achieve with your life. While goal setting
is time-consuming and involves much soul-searching,
it will help to bring focus to your personal
goals and aspirations, and will help you
to crystallize what you want to achieve.
You may want to stay in the same industry
or career that you are already in.
If this is not the case, and you are
struggling to identify the sort of careers
you would like to move into, then use
an online career testing tool like MAPP from Assessment.com.
This helps you think through the types
of job that you will find most satisfying.
- Research Your Options:
Having identified your career options
(even if the option is to stay in the
same career), it is important to do some
basic research into these. In particular,
you need to know whether the career is
increasing or declining in importance,
and you need to know how well you will
be paid in it.
There are huge differences between the
prospects available in different careers
and industries, with often fundamentally
similar jobs attracting widely varying
pay rates and conditions. Make sure you've
If you want to change your career,
you should also try to speak to people
in your target career to get their opinions
on it and on your suitability for it.
They should be able to give good advice
on making the transition, and on the
good companies to work for within the
industry or career.
All of this helps you to check that
the career is as desirable as you think
it is, and gives you the basic information
you need to succeed in that career.
- Plan Your Approach:
Once you know where you want to go,
the next stage is to work out how to
get there. If you need new skills to
make the change, then you need to begin
to acquire them. If you need experience,
then you need to work out how to get
If you want to make a major change,
then it may not be practical to do this
in one go. This is particularly the
case if you want to change to a radically
new career in a new company or industry.
Similarly, if you want to move to a
senior role, then you will normally
have to work through a series of intermediate
Identify the intermediate steps that
you will need to make, and the skills
and experience that you will need to
make those steps. Work out how you will
have to position yourself to make those
steps and gain those skills and experience.
- Take Action!
By this stage you may have come to the
conclusion that you are well enough positioned
in your current job to stay and manage
your career within your current organization.
If this is the case, then you should have
a good idea of the actions that you need
to take to progress your career within
Alternatively, you may have come to
the conclusion that you need to change
organization. If this is the case, then
make sure you approach this change as
a major project in its own right - the
effort you put in will most-likely determine
the quality of the role you eventually
As with other many, many other things,
the best careers come about through
a mix of careful planning and opportunism.
While you are implementing your career
plan, make sure that you do not ignore
good career opportunities that present
The Career Planning tool helps you to think
about how you would like your career to
develop. This is particularly useful in
jobs where there is no clear, established
career path or where you are locked into
a job that does not satisfy you.
Planning your career helps you to avoid
the boredom, disillusionment, frustration
and stress that come with failing to have
achieved your potential. This is a real
risk if a good, clear, satisfying career
path is not open to you.
The tool provides a 5-stage process for
thinking through your Career Plan:
- Analyzing your current position;
- Thinking through what you want to achieve
in your career;
- Research your options;
- Plan your approach; and
- Take action!
This tool is further supported by an array
of informational resources that will help
you make an informed decision.
article helps you survive jobs that
are intrinsically stressful...