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work backwards to set career milestones

Future of Work Sherpa Dan Smolen insists that people work backwards to set career milestones.

Setting target dates to complete meaningful work career milestones flummoxes the best of us. But the process need not be difficult. And the secret to doing it all well is this: WORK BACKWARDS.

The first few weeks of 2022 motivated millions of American workers to set a new job or career path as their new year’s resolution. But then, as panic or procrastination sets in; people look at a big step like a job or career change and wonder: “how do I make this happen?”

In 20 years as a nationally recognized headhunter, I counseled thousands of executive recruits to get intentional about creating better career outcomes.

And if their motivation stemmed from a “new job” New Years resolution, I got them to agree to a target date for it all to happen. Then, I worked with them to work backwards, to fill their calendars with all of the necessary preceding steps.

A career change that happens within the same “space” may not need an inordinate amount of time to complete, so all of the preceding steps could play out over the span of a few months: revising the résumé, finding target companies, reaching out to hiring managers, et. al. However, a jump from one sector to a new desired one likely will take many months, if not longer.

My rule of thumb for a radical career change is to establish a target date that is one to two years in the future.

That may seem abstract, but consider that you may need one to two years to gain knowledge and certification or to build out your network to make it all happen.

Adjusting the calendar is easy. So remember to work backwards to set career milestones.

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Image credits: Worker with paper calendar; Andrey Popov for iStock Photo; J. Brandt Studio for The Dan Smolen Experience.

By |2022-01-13T09:36:59-05:00January 13th, 2022|Blog|

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