Find your strengths and values How to create your career plan - key takeaways from the first event in Funzi’s free, virtual ‘how to’ series

Funzi’s first-ever virtual ‘how to’ event - titled ‘How to create your career plan’ - was held on April 29th, 2021. Funzi’s own Joolokeni Leskelä hosted the event as Ondela Mlandu and Jenni Pekkola provided expert advice on how to best formulate your plan.

Career advice from our speakers

Ondela is a South African marketing and communication expert, entrepreneur and passionate advocate of women’s empowerment. Her key takeaway was that ‘Career planning is never linear, but that there will be speed bumps that may take you through unexpected detours.’ And Ondela is living proof of this: her inspiring career journey has taken her from tourism management to digital marketing to multimedia journalism to communication management.

Ondela observed that every job she had provided her with skills that she used later in her career. She also stressed the importance of trying out different jobs - and to look at missteps as important to building up self-awareness and getting on the right career path.

Because our journeys are so different, it's very important to challenge yourself, to create your own path.

Jenni’s career path has taken its own twists and turns. Working as a professional musician, she decided to start studying marketing and start-ups - both as a plan B and because it ‘felt right’ at that time for her personal development - and eventually landed a job as a content specialist at Funzi.

At university, Jenni didn’t know what her dream job would be. She did, however, know her values and what inspires her: to develop herself personally, to grow professionally and to make the world a better place. A key part of her career growth, she said, was allowing herself to change her mind and reconsider the choices she made in her twenties. And a lot has been about stepping outside of her comfort zone and trying to be courageous.

Finding my path has been mainly about trying different things and finding what works for me and what doesn’t.

Ten steps to planning your career

Ondela and Jenni provided ten steps - divided into three sections - on how to create a career plan that aligns with your talents, values and goals. Here’s a summary:

Get to know yourself:

1. Let your values guide you - What are your values in life? Helping others? Having financial security? By understanding your values, you can think about how to apply them to your career.
2. Who are you? - What kind of personality do you have? What makes you happy? Answering important questions about yourself will give you clues about your dream job.
3. Have a role model - Think of someone who is a perfect career example for you. What is it about them that you admire?

Do a self-assessment:

4. What are your talents? - Talent is natural; skills are learned. What are some things that come to you naturally? Discovering your talents may give you a perspective you hadn’t considered before.
5. Your soft skills and hard skills - Soft skills are not unique to a specific job and can be attributed to your personality - for example, communication and leadership skills. Hard skills are related to a specific job - accounting, forklift driving and coding. Knowing the skills you have now is important in planning for later.
6. Interesting career fields - Try to list three career fields you might be interested in. Think about how you could go about developing yourself in these fields.

Make a plan:

7. Do your research - Find out more about the field you are interested in by searching online, talking to people in that field and reading job descriptions. Make a list of the skills needed for your dream role.
8. Identify the gaps in your skills - Are there any skills that you are missing? Think of ways you can develop them: go back to school, take an online course, become a volunteer, etc.
9. Get SMART career goals - Do you know the SMART method? In short, it stands for:

Specific: Be very clear about what you want to achieve
Measurable: A very clear metric or result that will show you have accomplished your goal
Achievable: Your goals should be challenging enough but still attainable
Relevant: Make sure your goal is related to your values, skills, talents and interests
Time-bound: An exact date by which you would want to achieve your goal

Here is an example of a SMART goal:
‘I want to achieve the goal of being a Digital Marketing Manager in five years’ time. To do this, I will need to gradually develop my digital marketing and leadership skills by educating myself and through on-the-job training.’

10. Your Action plan - Finally, list the actions you need to take to achieve your SMART goals. Clearly describe each task to create a plan that will lead you to your ultimate career goal. This could be, for example, 'I plan to develop my digital marketing skills by completing an online course within six months.' or 'I will improve my leadership skills by volunteering to lead two work projects in the next 12 months.'

Why not get started on your career plan today? Use our ten-step career planning guide to set yourself on the path to success!

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