If you’ve gone on multiple IT job interviews, chances are you’ve been asked about where you see yourself in the “next five years.” This question often tends to stop candidates in their tracks, as they often haven’t given much thought to where they’ll be in one year, let alone five years! While you certainly don’t need every aspect of your career planned out, there’s great value in having a five-year plan to keep you on track to reach your professional goals. If you’re unsure of where to begin, here are some tips to get you started:
Define your long-term vision. Before you can adequately formulate a comprehensive plan, you must have a defined vision for who you are and how you see yourself as an IT professional. In the IT world, there are many types of jobs, positions and places to work. The biggest question to ask yourself in defining your vision is: What do I hope to achieve in five years? A higher title or position? A greater salary? A management role? More professional development? Being specific with exactly how you envision your future is key to identifying the action steps needed to get there.
Establish short-term goals. Once you’ve defined your long-term vision, it’s time to articulate in smaller, short-term goals for how you’ll ultimately achieve that vision. You can do this by breaking down specific career objectives, such as “earn a two percent raise by next year,” or “obtain one or two additional management responsibilities at work.” Setting short, specific goals that can be easily tracked and measured will allow you to see how you’re progressing toward your vision. Checking in with yourself every few months to evaluate how you’re doing will give you a chance to do some self-reflection, as well as make adjustments to your short-term goals as needed.
Invest in professional development. With the IT industry constantly changing, investing in your professional development is critical for keeping you on track to meet your short-term and long-term goals. Committing yourself to continuous learning will allow you to stay competitive in your field so that you’re prepared for any challenges or roadblocks you may encounter along the way. Whether it’s online courses or industry conferences, make a habit of staying on top of industry trends so you’re always ready for what’s next.
With a five-year plan, you can be proactive in mapping out your professional future and designing a career you can be proud about. The tips above will serve as a blueprint as you go through this process, helping you take meaningful action towards your goals.