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Developing a Career Path Framework: Plan. Execute. Achieve.

By DeVry University

August 31, 2020
23 min read


  • Daisha Hankle, DeVryWORKS

  • Scarlett Howery, DeVry University Vice President of Operations

Developing your career path can be a critical step when it comes to staying on track towards achieving your goals. In this Future-Ready Skills session, Daisha Hankle walks you through the process of assessing your career lifecycle, identifying your core values, bridging your skill gaps and taking initiative.

Video Transcription

Scarlett Howery: And now I have the pleasure to welcome my DeVryWORKS colleague, Daisha Hankle. Daisha has been presenting helpful topics through a virtual event program here at DeVry for more than five years. Today, she will be sharing one of her more popular topics that is useful for anyone facing change, whether you're forced into change or you're actively looking for it. Daisha has a toolbox full of techniques you can all use. Towards the end of the session, Daisha can answer some questions if you'd like to put those questions in chat. Welcome, Daisha.

Daisha Hankle: Excellent. Thank you so much, Scarlett. Hello everyone. As she mentioned, my name is Daisha Hankle, I'm with DeVryWORKS of DeVry University. I am excited to be here today to go through our session on Building a Career Framework. (If you could take it to the next slide please.)

Assessing Your Career Lifecycle

Daisha Hankle: So, this is where I like to begin this particular session off. I like to have you think about where you are currently in your career life cycle. Where are you? Would you say that, "Well, I'm at the starting line. I have a long way to go and I just want to start now by creating the right plan, the right steps and move in the right direction”, right? Make continuous progress. There would be some of you who honestly, you've been in autopilot. You've just been in the same role doing the same things, but now something's changed. You're ready to switch gears. You're saying, "I'm in startup mode. I'm ready to take this to the next level, cease on another opportunity because I have the time, the energy, the motivation. I am ready to go there." And maybe that was just energy and momentum you could not have mustered, even just a few months ago.

I also know that maybe some of you who are attending that say, "Listen, I'm on the other side of this thing. I'm decelerating. In the next three to five years, if you asked me what I'm doing, I'm headed toward retirement." Well, I'm going to challenge you all, because if you're saying that you're decelerating and it's to retirement, but it's not happening in the next three to five weeks, what tells me you still have a long way to go. You still have goals that you can achieve. Now, why I like to start here is because we have to recognize, all of us, we're beginning from a different place, in a different stage. But our session today is meant to give everyone a couple of key takeaways. Some things that you can implement immediately after our session, that will allow you to put the right plan in action, regardless of where you were trying to go next. That ultimate career destination. So, let’s go ahead and get to our next slide.

Planning for a Job Versus a Career

Daisha Hankle: I want you to think about this question. And again, if you want to just kind of ponder on this, it's an interesting question to contrast. The question is, how do you know if you're planning for a job or if you're planning for a career? Is there a difference? What's really interesting is that for many, you think, "Okay, my career that is that long-term passion, that objective, I'm going to get there one day, but just not today." And I have others of you who say, "Listen, I'm on the other side of this. I'm currently in that thing called a J-O-B." Well, I want to give this to you. I believe that the real difference between planning for a job and planning for a career, it actually lies in your attitude around it. Next slide, please.

Because what you'll recognize is that, when we look and think about job planning, it may be short term and seem reactive and others, you're saying, "Yeah, remember the passion, that's my long-term career, it’s aligned directly with the particular organizational need." But for some of us, the role that you're in right now, or maybe the next role that you're going to take, it is a job, but it's vital. It's important for you to gain some experience, to capture a new skill. That's going to be so essential to getting you to that longer-term passion, that career objective.

I told you that ultimate career destination, and, you know, let's talk about your ultimate career destination. Because I'm not sure that you all recognize this, but we're all headed in the same direction and it's called success. But what success means for each of us, now that may be a little bit different. Because there's some of you that say, "Well, my idea of success is climbing the corporate ladder. I want to keep moving forward, be a leader and of teams." And then there's others who say, "I would think about changing my career direction, cross-training, and moving into different areas and just see what opportunities unfold along the way." And there are some of you that sit back and say, "Listen, I want to be energized by the work that I'm doing. I'm fulfilled by just working with the team of folks that I actually like."

Well, know this, you too have a successful career. I started off by recognizing all of us are coming from a different place or stage when it comes to our career lifecycle. And yes, where we're all headed is a little different as well, but I mentioned our session today is all about giving you some steps.

Building Your Career Framework

Daisha Hankle: And so that’s why, if you can get to the next slide, we want to talk through, just at a high level, this is what it looks like. The building out your career framework in determining, well, what are the steps that you need to take? Now, under each of these areas we're going to talk about next, I'm going to give you just some activities, some actions that perhaps you need to write down and be proactive about taking action immediately after our session so that you can begin to make positive progress. We're going to talk about the areas of continuous reflection, exploring career tools that are available to you, building out your plan. And then finally, we're going to have to follow Nike's advice, take action and “just do it”.

So, let's get to the next slide please, because what I wanted to share about this point around, continuous reflection, is the fact that this should be a lifelong journey for us. We should be always looking for opportunities to link ourselves to the type of work that we will ultimately find fulfilling, where you can essentially be your best self.

Perform a Self-assessment

Daisha Hankle: So, one thing you can start with is try taking a self-assessment. Are you familiar with any? Have you actually utilized self-assessments in the past before? And what I'm talking about are personality assessments. It could include annual or biannual reviews with your organization. I've even heard from a lot more companies recently that they're doing 360 assessments, just to get more of a holistic view of who you are as a professional. I also know that the session following this, we have Bob Biglin, who's going to be talking about emotional intelligence and linking that to how you can grow as an individual. There's no one way or one assessment that's perfect or right. It's about you doing your research, do your due diligence and figure out which is the right assessment that's going to catapult you or get you ready for where you want to go next.

Identify Your Passion

Daisha Hankle: So, my next point I want you to think about your passion. Yes, your passion. What lights your fire up? Think about the things that you would do for free. Honestly. If you’re also thinking, "I'm not quite sure how to figure out my passion." Well, do this, remove all of the obstacles and barriers, the restrictions that we place on ourselves and start thinking about, "If I removed all of these things, these obstacles, what would my accomplishments actually look like?" Man, I think this is a great exercise because it really allows you to focus in on the big things that matter to you and to your life. Similar with your values. You know, over time each of us has developed a core set of principles that have been like a guide to our behavior over the years. And the fact of the matter is, that if we're able to align our values with the work you perform on a daily basis, you should see your job satisfaction increase.

Outline Your Core Values and Motivators

Daisha Hankle: One thing that you can do or take away after our session is, maybe take some time and just go to a quiet space and just jot out what are your top 10 core values. If everything else is stripped away, what is the foundation that you stand on? It can be very helpful if you go back and revisit that annually, because as we know, life keeps moving along and as you continue to grow, and you may start to find that there's some changes and shifts that take place, but this is still the basis of your foundation.

We'll talk about this last point around what are your motivators and start to think about this, what gets you excited about waking up in the morning and going into work? Like, are you at your best when you're working closely with the group or when you're working alone? Would you say that you excel at highly conceptual work or when it's more detailed-oriented? It's about aligning your motivators, much like with your values, to the work that you perform. One, so that you can identify the type of work that you find fulfilling, and the other reason for this is so that you can put yourself in a position and be your best self.

Now, let me tell you where that leads us. If you can get to this next slide, it leads us into this thought process for you. Start thinking of yourself as a brand. Yes. I said you, as a brand. Why? Because personal branding is not reserved just for celebrities and CEOs. To help you with this, I have you on the slide, a question for you. What do you wish for people to associate with your name? I mean, really think about this question. What do you wish for people to associate with your name? Do you want to be known as someone who is an expert in collaborating across internal teams in order to reach a department or organization goals? Would you say you would want to be known as someone who is consistently creating positive customer experiences? These all sound great. But the reality is, how are you taking action on this? How are you displaying this through your actions, your attitude, your work output, and even for some of you in your social professional online presence?

Let's talk about how this relates to our topic of career planning. To the next slide please. Because when you're able to take your brand, it allows you to really focus in on your value. Identify the unique talents and strengths and traits, essentially that you are the only person who can bring that into your workplace. It helps you to essentially depict how your own personal vision for your future growth and career, aligns with the longer-term objectives of the business.

Now, I recognize for some, you're thinking, "I'm maybe a bit apprehensive." Maybe you’re fearful of defining yourself so narrowly. But also know that this branding exercise, it allows you to showcase your relevant value and allows you to deliver this in an authentic way. For some, this may be the link that you need to take. So, where do we start? We talked about the importance of continuous reflection, which allows you to figure out what is the areas that I will find the most fulfilling as far as a career growth stage and as well as, where will you be your best self?

So, let’s get to our next slide here, because what we would like is for you to start thinking about taking it to the next level, explore. What comes next? Where are the tools? What are the resources that you need to be leveraging in order to propel yourself to that next place that you want to go? To the next slide.

Understand Your Knowledge adn Skill Gaps

Daisha Hankle: Let's talk about some of the tools that you should be taking advantage of. Such as, reviewing internal job postings. I can't tell you how many times I've had folks come to my sessions and say, "I really like it here. I'd like to grow in my career, but I'm just not quite sure what is it gonna take in order to keep moving forward?" And I like to point them right back to internal job postings. Do you know where to find this information? Because if you want to know the knowledge, the skills, the education that the organization feels is needed to keep the business moving forward, you may find that on some internal job postings. For some, doing that research allows you to clarify where you are now, and create the right plan to fill in gaps. Knowledge and skill gaps, experience gaps in order to then be ready to take on some of those new roles.

For others, you're thinking about soft skills and what's essential is that in this day and age, it is important that we continue to find ways to brush up in the areas of soft skills. I'm talking about written communication, oral communication, team building, leadership skills. Some of you want to be leaders. What are you doing to brush up and prepare? Prepare now so that when the opportunity presents itself, you are ready to take hold of it. Soft skills have staying power and that's the truth.

Take Initiative

Daisha Hankle: Now, stretch assignments, quick story on this, because this may have happened to you before. You've had times where you're ready to take on a stretch assignment, but somehow you haven't been tapped on the shoulder. You weren't asked to participate on that particular team, so you just shrugged your shoulders, "I'm not sure what to do." I like to challenge you to say, "Well, are you prepared to ask for it?"

Have you taken inventory, taken stock of where you currently are in your career and then position yourself to go to your leader, go to that manager and say, "I'm ready to do more. I have a unique perspective and experience, a talent that I believe can be very helpful for our team and department. The next time there's a stretch assignment or temporary project team. I would like to be part of the pool of consideration." So, my question to you is, are you waiting for it? Are you waiting, ready to be tapped in? Or you probably need to set yourself up and think about asking for the opportunity. It's a great place to start.

Finally, Mentoring Programs. Always recommend that you look internally, take advantage of any formal or informal mentor programs that you have within your organization, but you don't have to just do this internally. Take also a look at your own personal professional network and identify if there're folks that you feel comfortable, confident that can pour into your career journey in a positive way.

All right, so what have we covered so far? The importance of continuous reflection, so that you can identify the type of work that you'll find fulfilling, where you can be your best self. We've talked about exploring career tools. What are the resources available that you may need to leverage in order to keep making positive progress towards your next step in the career?

Let’s get to our next slide, because, remember the next step is to build out your plan. And I'm talking about a plan. Not the career dream or fantasy, because right, we close our eyes, we imagine where we're going to go next? I'm talking about something that's visible, something tangible, something planned. Because when it's planned, it becomes possible.

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Daisha Hankle: And so, what we're gonna do is talk a little bit here about S.M.A.R.T. goals. These S.M.A.R.T. goals, many of you are familiar with, very popular when it comes to career goal planning. We know that this was based on some pioneering research by Dr. Edwin Locke back in the 1960s. Now, how you were first introduced to the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, you may find that the words associated with the letters, may be a little bit different. But if you get to our next slide please, you can see that in our session today, we're going to say that S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. So, I'll just run through this, just at a high level for some of you. And for others, you may want to do some research on this afterward.

We talk about being specific, it’s because research shows that specific and clear goals will lead to better task performance than vague or easy goals. So be clear and exact about what you want in your goals. You want to make sure that it is a goal that you can measure, so that you can set up some sort of objective measuring system that allows you to track your progress. That's how you know that you're hitting milestones. You're making positive progress. Next, you want to make sure it's achievable. I think you would agree is great to dream big, but an unrealistic goal will not motivate you. You have to ensure that you have a goal that's challenging, but it has to be one that's within your realm of possibility. Something that you are able and willing to actually accomplish. Is it relevant? Now, a few minutes ago, I was talking about how you should be utilizing your values and motivators, just to help you in self-assessing. Well, here's an area where it comes into play. Is your goal in alignment with what you value and what you're motivated by? Because if so, you start to see these become like guideposts for your goals. You'll know every step along the way, if you're moving yourself in the right direction. Something that matters to you. It's how you keep the momentum because life continues to happen. Even in the face of you making a great plan for that next career opportunity. And finally, is it time-based? I imagine most of us would agree if you don't have a deadline, it becomes so much easier to put off working on goals. So just ensure that your goals are grounded in a timeframe. One that's going to make sense for your full plate of priorities and responsibilities.

So, as I just ran through this at a high level very quickly, I hope that what you're taking away is that when you're creating your goals, be S.M.A.R.T.

Stay Relevant

Daisha Hankle: All right, so I know I've been talking here and there about this importance of developing your skills. So, if we can get to that next slide, now I want to take this to the next level and talk about the value of staying relevant. Take a look at these two images that we have on this slide.

I'm wondering, what does it speak to you? What does it say to you about the value of staying relevant? Some of you are looking at this image on the right thinking, "I have one of those, it's collecting dust in a box in my garage somewhere. I haven't used it in a while." But what we can take away or recognize is that we almost could argue that today we take more pictures person-to-person than we probably ever have in history. It's not that we don't take pictures anymore. It's how it's done. How are we taking these photos? So, what it's telling us, there is a need to continuously evolve. How this relates back to our topic of career planning? You must also look for ways to continuously evolve, to keep your knowledge and skills relevant. This is so important with the way that our technology, our world, is advancing, utilizing some of these new technologies.

So, if you get to this next slide, I just want to share with you a couple of things to think about, especially right now. One, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Take the time to learn some new technologies, how you can leverage them in your own, either personal or professional life. It's a good time for fine-tuning on your online social or professional profiles. Things like LinkedIn. We were just in a session earlier and a recruiter was talking about how they look at your picture, so maybe some of those selfies, should be replaced for more professional headshot. Something simple that can go a long way. And, right now is a great time for making professional connections. Participate in the conversations that are happening around your specific industry or your area of expertise. Those are just a few things that you can do. Because if you're not a part of the conversation, you might start to miss out on some key opportunities that could be just right for you.

Grow Your Network

Daisha Hankle: Next slide please. So, where do we start? We started off this framework by talking about the importance of continuous reflection. How you identify the type of work that you will ultimately find fulfilling and where you can be your best self. We then talked about exploring the career tools, the resources available that can help you to move forward on your career, wherever you're looking to go. We took time out to just quickly cover S.M.A.R.T. goals, because we know the importance of building out your plan. And now we have to figure out, how do we put those great plans into action? Let’s go to the next slide, because I want to tell you about four things that you can start doing today to begin to make progress on your goals. Number one, find ways to extend your professional network. Are there places that you can meet folks, meet ups?

You may find that there are places that you can volunteer, groups that you can join, whether they're industry-specific or even employee resource groups. What we're talking about is, extend your professional network outside of just the folks that you have to connect with, just as a function of your job or your role. A good place to start.

Next, identify opportunities. Opportunities that are going to help you reach your goal. What I'm talking about is, if there's training, the stretch assignments, the additional responsibilities that may come into your way. When it is something that will help you on your way towards your goal, say yes, and be ready to say yes to those relevant opportunities.

Find a Mentor

Daisha Hankle: Finding a mentor. Now I know I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but just to break this down really quick. When we look at finding a mentor, one, find someone that you are interested in either their industry, where they currently are in that particular industry, or even the journey that it took for them to get there. Next, when you're able to connect with them, go for the ask. I'm talking about ask for their time. It could be lunch. It could be coffee. You can do those things virtually. The point is, is make sure that you ask for time, so that you can learn from them. Ask them great questions.

And then third, you are, many of us are professionals. You have unique talents and experiences and perspectives. Mentoring can be a two-way street. So you could also be identifying folks that you would like for them to mentor you and also be thinking, "Let me share with you some of the things that I can do to pour into you, help you along with your journey." Finally, our point here is, find ways to develop your skills. How can you be on a constant quest for knowledge? How do you stay on top of changes and trends that are occurring in your field? This is ongoing. We're talking about continuous development of your skills and your knowledge, gaining experiences so that whatever's coming forth, you're preparing now. So, when the opportunity is there, you're ready for it.

If you can get to our last slide here. As we start to conclude, I just want to remind us where we have come today. So, we started off with the conversation around, where are you in your current career life cycle? And we recognize that all of us are headed toward this career destination called success. It looks a little bit different for all of us. But if we follow some of the steps in the framework, what I recognize is that you can find some areas, some key takeaways, some things that you can implement immediately after our session that should help you to begin to make the positive progress on your goals. I hope some of this was helpful for you all today. Scarlett, I do want to go ahead and turn this back over to you. Again, thank you so much for the time.

Leverage a Career Coach

Scarlett Howery: Thank you, Daisha. And I think, I took a ton of notes. Fantastic content. And you were right, a very full toolkit of opportunities for those out there that are listening to help them with their career. So, I do have a couple questions that were asked in the gallery. So, do you recommend working with a Career Coach?

Daisha Hankle: Sure, and I think that that's a great person to work with, and I know that there are a number of ways you can do this. I know some people, depending on their level, you may be paying for some kind of an executive coach. I'll be honest, I really, I would say a budget-friendly way, is go and talk to folks who are actually in training or in school for career coaching, because many of them have to do them for free. And again, they're gonna be professionals, they're almost there, but again, they're going to be able to have the toolkit or the set that will help you in order to move forward as well. So again, that part about career coaching, I think it just depends on kind of where you are. Do you feel stuck? Do you think that your organization has resources to help you or even think about this, are you trying to make a career pivot?

If you're moving from one industry into another and some people make hard pivots and it makes a lot of sense for you or your interest or just your family situation, then using that career coach maybe a really good, good bet for you.

Become a Mentor to Others

Scarlett Howery: Yeah. And the other question was around the mentors. So you talked about that a little bit. And what if someone asked you to be a mentor? How do you recommend approaching them, working with that person, asking for additional support, if you are asked to be a mentor?

Daisha Hankle: This is great. If you're asked to be a mentor, I would say, one, take inventory as to where you are. Because the worst thing you can do is say, yes, and you don't have the bandwidth or the time. So, I would say, first say having a conversation is great. That's why even in the session I was mentioning, ask them to lunch or to coffee, something informal that just allows you to get to know one another. I think that true mentorship or effective mentorship comes from having that relationship. And it takes time to really build the bonds of a strong relationship and rapport, but the faster you can get there, I think the more beneficial it is for the mentee.

So again, I would start with this, do you have the time and the bandwidth? There's no harm ever in having coffee, right? Or lunch with someone. But to fully commit, you want to ensure that you let them know you are the mentee, but you are leading this. Remember it's your career, not mine. So that being the case, it's allowing them to create, what is the plan? What are the check-ins, what are the milestones that we're going to be assessing your progress on? And ultimately, be clear about what assistance you like from me. Now, I think that having that very clear conversation upfront, maybe even putting it down in writing can be very helpful because it's almost like a contract, formal or informal, but the point is, if I'm going to give you my time, I want to make sure that it's time well worth it and that it's actually going to help you get to where you want to go.

So that's a great question. Hopefully, that's helpful for those who are thinking or being approached to be mentors. I would always encourage you say yes, if you can. I think that's always helpful for folks.

Scarlett Howery: Well, thank you, Daisha for the engaging presentation and to all of those out there who asked some really great questions.

So our morning session of the Future Writer Skills and Inside Look is ending now. And again, I appreciate each one of you for being on, and taking the time to hear. Thanks.

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