When you want to transition to a career in Information Technology (IT/Tech), it is important for you to have a career plan in place. A career plan will help you document how you plan to achieve your career goals. To say it another way, if you don’t have a career plan, you may be setting yourself up for failure. In this post I will share 8 steps for successful technology career planning and development for your career transition to Tech.
First let’s start by defining career planning. Having a clear understanding of what career planning is will make it much easier to implement the steps.
What is Career Planning?
Career planning is the strategic mapping of the key steps that are required to help you achieve your professional goals. A well thought out and documented career plan will act as a roadmap for you to successfully launch your career in Tech. The goal of career planning is to create a blueprint that you can follow as you start your technology career planning and development journey.
Now that we know what career planning is, let us review the steps required to successfully plan your technology career. Below is a list of the steps. You can continue reading below for more information on each step.
- Step 1: Identify Your Goals
- Step 2: Identify the Required Skills
- Step 3: Create a Career Path Map
- Step 4: Identify the next-step Job
- Step 5: Acquire Skills
- Step 6: Apply to Jobs
- Step 7: Network, Network, Network!
- Step 8: Evaluate your Progress
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
As with many plans, career planning starts with identifying your professional short-term and long-term goals. You need to have a goal in mind when you begin mapping out your career plan in order to create the right blueprint. The goals that you identify should include short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term goals are typically goals that you want to achieve within 3 – 6 months, and long-term goals can take 3 – 5 years. Keep in mind that your long-term goals should include your dream job.
When identifying your goals, you want to make sure that they are S.M.A.R.T. goals. This means that you want your goals to be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Step 2: Identify the Required Skills
After you have identified and documented your goals, you then need to identify the skills that will help you achieve each career goal. Skills include technical experience, certifications, and/or training for each career goal.
The question you want to ask yourself is “What skill/experience/certification is required to work in the role that I am targeting?“
You can get the answer to this question by searching online. I also have some articles with detailed information on various Technology career paths. You can check this post 7 Remote Job Opportunities in Information Technology or this post 5 High Salary Information Technology Jobs – No Technical Degree.
Your goal at the end of this step is to know exactly what skills, training, and certifications you need for your technology career planning and development progress.
Step 3: Create a Career Path Map
After you have your goals and skills documented, you then want to create a detailed career path map. A career path map documents the role you are targeting and the steps that you need to take in order to get to your targeted role. This should include your desired job role and the milestones required to get the job.
For example, if you are a Helpdesk Technical and your goal is to be a Senior Software Developer, you will need to document the career milestones. Your first step might be to start as a junior developer in a company and then the next step would be to get promoted to a senior software developer role. You would also document what additional skills you need to learn to get the promotion from junior developer to senior developer.
The career path map give you clarity on the specific steps you need for your technology career planning and development process.
Step 4: Identify the Next-Step Job
After you have the career plan map, you need to identify the job that is the next step to move you along the career path you have mapped out. So, if the next step job is to be a junior developer, then you want to start planning for that job. You will go back to the skills you have documented for the career path and begin planning how to acquire those skills in order to get the job.
It is important to start with the next step job in order to avoid overwhelming yourself. Keep taking the steps up (like a ladder) and before you know it you would have transitioned to your goal career!
Step 5: Acquire Skills
So, it’s highly likely that you need to acquire new skills when you’re trying to transition to a career in Tech. The next step in your technology career planning and development is to identify where you can get training for the skills you identified in Step 2. Once you have that, you can then work on acquiring the required skills, experience, and certifications, through proper training/coaching.
This might take days, weeks, or months, depending on the skills. The key here is to keep on moving forward with your eye on your career goals.
Step 6: Apply to Jobs
Now that you are armed with the right skills, experience, and certification, you want to start applying to jobs that will allow you move to the next-step job you identified in Step 4.
Everything you have done to this point should have set you up for success. Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from going for your dreams. If you have questions about moving into Tech, check out this post on 6 Problems with Starting an IT career and How to Solve Them.
You’ve got this! Keep moving forward.
Step 7: Network, Network, Network!
If you’ve read other posts in this blog, you already know that networking will be on this list. 🙂
When it comes to technology career planning and development, you cannot avoid networking. So, you should join groups and associations in your dream career path and begin building relationships. Ask people about their career paths, ask about job openings in companies, or simply listen to conversations when appropriate.
LinkedIn is a great place to build relationships and keep alert about job openings. So, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, make sure you create on and start networking today!
Step 8: Evaluate your Progress
There’s nothing worse than a plan that is not utilized. So, in order to stay on track with your technology career planning and development, you should periodically evaluate your progress along the career path you’ve mapped out. You can do this monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on your current stage.
As you evaluate your progress, you can identify areas where your goal has changed and make updates accordingly. You also want to make sure that
There you have it. 8 steps for successful technology career planning and development. Hope you learned something new from this post that will help you move forward in the technology career transition. At the end of the day, I want you to know that YOU can start a career in Tech. Many people have done it successfully and so can you!
You can also check out these other posts related to Tech careers jobs.