To increase your opportunities for career growth and leadership, a well-planned career path is essential. It’ll keep you focused on your goals and help you achieve them.

However, it’s important to note that no two career paths are ever the same. And careers rarely travel in a straight line. There are ups and downs, twists and turns – collecting valuable skills and experience along the way.

Maja Paleka, co-founder and director of Juggle Strategies, knows a thing or two about career paths. After all, she’s had quite an interesting one herself. After starting as an electrical engineer, she’s worked in technical, operational, sales and general management roles. Now Paleka works as a leadership and training coach alongside some of Australia’s favourite organisations, reimagining the future of work to help businesses, and their employees, succeed.

If you’re wondering “What career path should I take?”, Paleka shares her valuable insights and advice below to help you choose the right path for you.

How to choose the right career path

Career-path planning is an issue almost everyone faces at some point. But with so many different options, how do you know which career path to follow?

If you’re struggling to figure out your career path, Paleka suggests starting with your strengths.

“Every person has things they’re good at and they find easy to do,” she explains. “Then there are the things that you enjoy doing.

“That’s when you need to look at where your strengths overlap with what really excites you. Then you can plan your career path around this overlap. It’s less about a particular job or job title and more about utilising your skills in a career that you’re excited about.”

Developing a career path framework

Once you know where your career is headed, you can then start shaping what your career path will look like.

Remember that a career path doesn’t have to be a straight line. Lateral moves to develop new skills at a similar job level or status can be just as important to your career as an upward trajectory. In designing your career path, you need to think about both where you’re headed and how you’ll get there.

Here are four things to consider in designing your career path.

1. Start with your goals

A career path needs to have goals, and not just your end goal. It needs to have achievable milestones along the way.

Where do you want to be in five years? And then again in five years after that?

If you’re someone who’s skilled and qualified, you’ll likely be presented with multiple opportunities as you progress in your career. The challenge for you is to decide which of those opportunities are and aren’t relevant to your career path.

Your goals can act as a filter to help you make those decisions. As a role or project comes up, you can assess it against your goals. Will the role or project help to get you closer to your end goal? Does it align with your five-year plan?

The more defined your goals are, the better you will be able to make strong choices that help you stick to your plan.

2. Define the skills and experience you’ll need

Whatever career path you choose, you’ll have a range of skills and experiences that you’ll need to gather along the way. This will be a combination of technical as well as soft or interpersonal skills.

If you’re thinking about how to become a CEO, you’ll need strong leadership skills, often attained with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or similar qualification. If your career path involves a career change, you’ll also need to think about the skills you’ll need to make this happen.

As you identify skill and experience gaps, you can build this into your career path and look for roles that will fill the gaps.

3. Identify training and education requirements

In addition to on-the-job experience, most roles will require some kind of training and education. This may be an entry-level requirement, such as a bachelor’s degree. Or it may be more advanced, such as an MBA or specialised master’s degree, to support your transition into more senior roles.

If you’re thinking of an MBA or other postgraduate education, build that into your career path. MBA programs require a number of years of relevant work experience, so consider that in your planning.

One of the benefits of an MBA is the professional network that comes with it. And so, completing a course like this at a strategic point in your career can open the door to more opportunities.

4. Understand industry growth and opportunities

Some career paths will be heavily tied to a particular industry. Others, not so much. If you understand industry growth and opportunities, you’ll have a great deal of flexibility to move between industries to propel your career further.

It may be that you identify an industry that’s growing rapidly. You find a role that utilises your skill set and helps you develop the experience you need to get you to the next level. Don’t limit yourself based on the industry but rather look more broadly at what different industries can offer you and your career.

“Employers are realising that a CV with the right job title isn’t as important as someone having skills that can be transferred between industries and areas,” says Paleka. “It’s such an incredible time, where moving between industries or job titles has never been easier.”

The end goal of a clear career path

Your career path should be as unique as you are. Paleka says that there’s no right or wrong, just what’s right for you.

“If you try to follow someone else’s career path or the career path someone thinks you should follow, you can miss out on a lot,” she explains. “It’s not about the job titles. It’s about your strengths and what gets you excited.”

Paleka also encourages you to really think about your values when planning your career. Your values will naturally align with your skills and interests, so it’s a good place to start.

“You’re not going to be excited about doing work that doesn’t really connect to who you are and what you deeply believe in,” she says. “I’ve always loved working with people. One of my biggest values is my contribution to others. Those two things are inherently related. I enjoy working with people because I can make a contribution to them.”

This is the end goal of a career path. A meaningful and rewarding career that aligns with your values and skills.

Take the right step in your career with an online MBA

An MBA can be a powerful way to propel your career to new heights. With the popularity of online MBAs, you can more easily balance your studies with your work and other commitments. Discover the many MBA specialisations available and choose an MBA that suits your career journey.

If you’re ready to find out more about the costs associated with an MBA and, in particular, the postgraduate salary benefits of an MBA, we’re here to help.

We’ll guide you through the different online MBA options and help you choose the right one to support your career path. Keen to discover more about how an MBA can help your career? Start your journey with us.

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