Creating A Personal Career Map

by Nathan Newberger

This career article by NathanNewberger gives job seekers some important guidelines on creating a career map.

Whether you are unemployed or have an unfulfilling job, you probablysuffer from an ailment that plagues many people: careerdisorientation. You are not where you want to be professionally.Somewhere along the road to professional happiness you veered offcourse and lost your way. If you are driving and become lost, a mapis a handy tool to help get back on course. A career map is just asuseful in curing career disorientation.

This article describes how to develop your own personalcareer map. Once you know the path you want to take, it is mucheasier to get where you want to go.

These four key elements will be covered:

1. Finding The Big Picture
2. Do Some Research
3. Start Marketing Yourself
4. Plan For The Unexpected

To create a career map, you must be able to take a step back andexamine your position. More often than not, you may need to take manysteps before the big picture becomes visible. The whole purpose of acareer map is to create a path to your end goal. Being able toenvision the entire path is crucial.

As you step back to examine your situation, ask yourself thesequestions:

  • How far into the future do you want to plan? One year? Five years? Ten years?
  • What job characteristics are most important to you? Location? Salary? Room for Promotion?
  • Is there flexiblity for unexpected detours? You never know when a spouse will find a job in another city or when a new boss will make your current job unbearable.

Planning should not be a stationary act. A vital part of effective career mapping is gathering information. After all, you cannot fullyprepare for a journey unless you have a detailed understanding of theplaces you want to go. Determining the path you want to take for thenext few years requires a lot of legwork. You must identify thespecific actions you need to take on the road to success andfulfillment.

There are numerous methods to obtain all the information necessaryfor creating a sound career map. Some of the most popular choicesinclude:

  • Reading trade magazines and professional industry analysis.
  • Interviewing industry experts.
  • Finding a mentor that is already successful in the job you hope aspire to be in one day.

As you examine your path to success, you must determine how to getyourself on that path. This means you need to be in contact with thecompanies and/or industries you see in your future. As you alreadyknow, landing the job you want is not an easy task. That is whymarketing is an essential part of career mapping.

Above all else, a self-marketing strategy for career mapping shouldaddress these three issues:

  • Market Identification: Just like a business must decide on the customers to whom it will sell its product, you must decide on the companies and industries to which you will sell yourself. Be specific, having only a general idea will leave you unfocused. Make a list of specifics so you can properly allocate your time and effort.
  • Strength/Weakness Identification: When a business sells its product, it does not just to tell you the product's name. Advertisements emphasize the advantages of a product. You need emphasize your strengths and downplay your weaknesses as you market yourself. Have your closest friends and colleagues help you compile a list of your positive and negative characteristics.
  • Mission Statement: It may seem trivial to actual develop a mission statement for yourself, but they perform a very valuable function. Creating a mission statement requires you to concisely explain your goals. In doing this, you remove frivolous details and better focus yourself.

Often times, as a person develops their career map he or she realizesthat they are far off course. This perfectly normal, but it alsomeans that getting on the right road will require a change ofdirection.

What the future holds is always a mystery. Drastically changing yourlife can only complicate things. A very important concern to have isyour financial stability. A career map is only valuable when it isrealistic, so it should address any of your financial concerns. As youplan for the future, ensure you have a financial plan to tackle theworst-case scenario. With each step along the way, you career mapshould answer the question "Can I afford to continue on?" And theanswer must be yes.


Planning before you act allows you to make focused moves. Once you'veplotted your course, you must act without hesitation. Don't forget tocheck your career map regularly to ensure you have not veered offcourse. Make forecasts and continue to plan. When the job market isrough; the people that do well are those that have a strong idea ofwhere they are trying to go. Remember, driving is a lot easier whenyou keep your eyes on the road. Happy planning!

This article can be read online and shared with others directly at:

Nathan Newberger,
Managing Editor
"Helping You Find More Jobs Faster"

Enjoy this page? Please share it. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.