careerPlanningBIKES, TRAINS, TAXIS AND DIDIS … OR WALKING  – I have a myriad of possibilities to get to and from the office when I work in Beijing– both modes of transport and transport routes. It was during a morning bike ride to work and I was thinking about how I get to and from the office, the choices and the factors that impact on my decision on what mode of transport I will take and what form of transport I eventually decide to take. I then started drawing a parallel between that and our career planning. What jobs we take and the pathways we take in order to get to achieve our career goals appears to be very similar to my daily trek to and from the office.


Factors emerge from time to time, and can be viewed as obstacles or opportunities, depending on the lens in which you view them. For example, rain at time of departure from the office can be a little tricky as no taxis can be found in the rain, therefore there is a high probability of getting wet to get home. However it could be an opportunity to have dinner in that restaurant close by that I have been dying to try, and I can use the time to have dinner and wait out the rain. As I have not yet mastered the skill of riding a bike with an umbrella in one hand, while navigating the cars on the road as well as the other bikes riding towards me, and pedestrians who use the bike path and not the footpath, I could also walk to the subway with the umbrella and as much as possible under cover between the office and the subway station …. With a number of others with the same idea. So, there are options, and the decision is guided by what feels right at the time (instinct) and whether I have things to do at home, and my energy level.


While there can be some parallels between my decisions about whether to take a bike, train, taxi or Didi to and from work and career planning, there is more to career planning. For example, there does need to be consideration of what is needed to add experience to your CV. Taking the time to think about your career goal, starting with the end in mind and identifying the skills/experience you need to gather, then filling in the gaps by finding opportunities helps determine the decisions you make for your career path. This is also assuming that you are an individual with no others to take into account, such as your significant other/s and their needs. Their needs also come into play with career planning and often require honest discussions about prioritisation – not always easy but not impossible.


We are coming to the recruiting season and there seems to be a number of requests for various levels of support and coaching, so here are my top 5 tips for career planning:


  1. Have a goal – think carefully about what you want in your next job or your ideal job, write it down and display it in a work area at home.
  2. Identify your areas of growth for your ideal job – Map your experience against what you believe the skills/knowledge/experience required for your ideal job.
  3. Work out how you can build on the skills/knowledge/experience you will need for your ideal job, and get started on doing it.
  4. Find a mentor – you do need someone who will provide you with honest, constructive feedback, and then ask. You have a 50-50 chance of success when you ask someone, and don’t be put off by the ‘No’, as there could be an excellent reason for why they have said No, and which has nothing to do with you.
  5. What is your ‘why’ – think about why you want this ideal job and prepare a 30 second statement that is authentic and is practised.


Looking for one’s next job is a stressful experience, and is not easy, however career planning is one strategy to reduce the anxiety and support preparedness. Just like getting to and from my work each day, there will be unexpected events that will impact on the path you may take or the time you take, but by being prepared you can still achieve your goal.


Until next time ….