7-Step Career Roadmap
Ready to find a new career or improve your current situation? Not sure where to start? Our 7-Step Career Roadmap is your guide to career success.
- Study yourself
- Explore career options
- Choose a career
- Level-Up your skillset
- Land your first job
- Grow and advance in your career
- Give back to others
Step 1: Study Yourself
Choosing the right career path for you requires deep understanding of precisely two things: 1) potential careers and 2) you. We’ll start with understanding “you” first, and we’ll get to the potential careers in the next step.
Now chances are you already feel like you know something about yourself. And that’s likely very true. But taking a deeper, systematic self-inventory is a very worthwhile endeavor not just for the act of choosing a career path, for the foundation of all major life decisions. Here are the steps we recommend:
- Take a personality test. Better yet, take several different ones!
- Create an objective inventory of your talents and skills. What are you good at?
- Consider your interests, values and desired lifestyle. What do you enjoy?
- Ask yourself what your meaning is? What’s your purpose? What really matters to you?
- Take a career-matching assessment. But don’t skip straight to this step, do the above steps first or you’ll miss out.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
Step 2: Explore Career Options
Now that you’ve done your self-assessment, its time to start learning about various careers that fit your personality, skills and interests. Our career guides database is a great place to start – you can search and sort by various criteria, including by personality types or skills that you identified in step 1 above. At this stage, just browse around liberally and brainstorm a bit. Volume is valuable here.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
– Benjamin Franklin
Step 3: Choose a Career
Alas, the toughest step! But it’s made much easier if you’ve taken the time to understand yourself and explore lots of options.
Need a little help making the final decision? Ask one of our career mentors a question about their career. And check out the wealth of tips on our blog. We’ve also got a directory of career counselors who are eager to help too, if you want a little more one-on-one guidance.
Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
Step 4: “Level Up” Your Skillset
Workers are compensated based on value, not time. When someone is able to command high wages its inevitably tied to the perceived value they are able to produce for their company, client or customer.
Likewise, someone with highly-valuable and in-demand job skills will have little trouble finding a job. Their challenge will choosing which job or opportunities are worth their time. Those individuals with valuable skills and abilities will command higher salaries and have greater opportunities both for career growth and to make an impact on the world. Simply put, in order to get that dream job you’ve got to earn it… you’ve got to “get good” and develop some relevant skills.
Ted: “Dude. After everything that’s happened, we still don’t know how to play.”
Bill: “Maybe we oughta get good, Ted.”
Step 5: Land your First Job
Deciding on your first job in your new career path is an important step. Many people make the mistake here of looking at the starting salary, job title or benefits package. This is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Your first job in your new career is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, develop skills and network. Early on in your career you want to trade salary for growth and influence. If you can improve your skills and become more valuable, you’ll easily make up the difference in income shortly after.
The most important question to ask on the job is not ‘What am I getting here?‘ The most important question to ask on the job is ‘What am I becoming here?’
– Jim Rohn
Tip: To pick the right job you’ve also got to have good options to choose from. This means job offers. Our blog features a range of strategies and tactics to help you find more job opportunities and earn attractive job offers.
Step 6: Grow and Advance in Your Career
Early in your career you need to build experience, expand your network and improve your skills. Those who do this are seen as go-to employees, or the “guru” consultants. Indeed, this is the recipe for success early in your career.
But interestingly that is not the key to success later in your career. In his book “Essentialism”, Greg McKeown outlines the paradox of success, which essentially says that the focus one has early in their career leads enables them to do good work. As a result, their good work produces a multitude of new opportunities which can then detract from their focus and ultimately leads to mediocre work. So while the key to early career success is saying “yes”, the key to mid and later career success is often saying “no”.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
– Steve Jobs
Step 7: Give Back to Others
Here at The Career Project we believe that all those who have had success in their careers have a moral responsibility to give back to others. In fact, that’s why we created this website. And it’s what we think you should do too as soon as you reach some level of career success. You can start by spending 20 minutes filling out a job profile or volunteering as a career mentor for our website.
But giving back isn’t just about helping the receiver – the target of the act. In fact, it’s more about helping the giver. To this extent, this last step of giving back isn’t what you do after you’ve reached success, but its actually part of the journey itself.
Again this isn’t anything original we’re creating. After all 2,000 years ago the Bible stated that it is better to give than to receive. And then much more recent research the field of psychology has vouched for this as well, as studies have shown that helping others can relieve your own anxiety and help with depression. It can give us a sense of purpose and meaning that is outside of ourselves.
The secret to living is giving.
– Tony Robbins
Why We Give Back
As stated about, “giving back” not only helps the recipient, it helps the giver as well.
Lets expound upon this for a moment. In 1943, Abraham Maslow created his Hierarchy of Needs. The key idea in this model is that as an individual’s more basic needs (water, food, safety) are met, they are freed up to turn their attention to “higher” needs like self-esteem, love, etc. At the top of Maslow’s pyramid was “self-actualization” – essentially the need or striving to be the best you can be. To fulfill your potential.
Years later, Maslow revised his pyramid and said he made a mistake – a rare occurrence for such a popular academic. Maslow came to realize that self-actualization is not something you can achieve on your own. As his contemporary Viktor Frankl outlined, its not even something you can pursue directly. Its only possible to reach self-actualization when you stop pursuing it directly, and instead focus on the needs of others. One must transcend their own needs in order to help others. Its another paradox of sorts: to be your best self you must stop focusing on yourself and focus on others. Only then can you truly be your best self.