Five tips for long term career planning

Planning your career can feel overwhelming but deciding where you want to be in five years' time is a good way to get the most out of your career
Woman reading iPad for career planning
Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals
The best way to prepare for future career changes and developments is to remain active in your career planning. By regularly researching the job market and careers, you will be better prepared for your next move.

Advice from the University of London International Programmes

Making long-term plans for your career can sometimes feel overwhelming but breaking up the process and deciding where you want to be in five years' time is a good way to get the most out of your career.

Research has shown that 39% of British workers don't plan ahead in terms of their career and 25% have no long-term career plan. So how about you? Have you thought ahead more than a couple of years into the future?

Here are our top 5 tips for getting the most out of your career by planning ahead:

1. Think about the year ahead

This first step should be straightforward if you are currently employed within your desired industry. However, in today's competitive market you should be thinking about what you'd like to achieve in one year, in order to stand out within your organisation.

You should think about developing both your skills and competencies within this year, whether that is project management, advanced IT or even a new language.

These new skills and competencies could come from taking on additional responsibility within your workplace, conferences related to your profession, or even online learning materials.

2. Identify employment trends

The best way to prepare for future career changes and developments is to remain active in your career planning. By regularly researching the job market and careers, you will be better prepared for your next move.

If you can identify a new step up the career ladder that can be achieved with additional qualifications, you will be one of the first to take the leap into this new career option.

Gaining an additional or postgraduate qualification no longer has to be the massive risk that it used to be. With flexible and distance learning providers, you can study a course that suits your professional development needs, at the pace that suits you, wherever you are. Great news if you plan to study around your work and career commitments.

3. Consider a career change

Does the niche that you have carved yourself still suit your goals or personality? Have you realised that you don't want to spend another year of your life doing what you're currently doing for a living? If so, you need to start planning your next move now.

First, be very specific about what you do and don't like about your current role and decide what would make your working life more enjoyable. Be sensible and think about other jobs that will allow you to use the knowledge, skills and capabilities that you have already built up. 

And then, once again, it is important to consider your skill or qualification gaps and come up with a plan as to how you can fill those gaps around your existing job commitments.

4. Setting longer-term career goals

You've already thought about the year ahead, analysed your skill gaps and considered a career change, so now is the time to consider your slightly longer-term goals.

These can be broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. Firstly, think in terms of short-term goals; those you can achieve in less than three years. For example, you might want to gain an MBA.

Your long-term goals are likely to be achieved in five to ten years. For example, using your MBA to set up your own consultancy business.

Your short-term goals will lead to achieving your long-term ones.

5. Keep focused on your goals

Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals will concentrate your mind. It will also give you milestones to help you track your progress and increase your self-confidence when you achieve your goals.

We know that making long-term plans for your career can seem overwhelming but by following these five tips, you are sure to get the most out of your career.

Whatever your career situation or your location, you can gain a valued qualification from the University of London by studying with the University of London International Programmes.