Though many workers develop career maps in conjunction with their employers, Clarke recommends that professionals maintain separate, personal maps that allow for growth possibilities beyond their current employers. These maps should be updated at least once a year, she adds.
Here are six key components of a thorough career map, according to Clarke:
1. Historical plotting. This is a list of the job functions you've held, with competencies (not just responsibilities) identified for each one.
2. An aspirational look. "This is where you get to play and incorporate what you want," Clarke says, adding that she tells people to start with industries they're interested in, then zero in on functions and then roles.
3. A skills gap analysis. This is a comparison of the competencies you currently have and the ones you'll need to acquire in order to do the things you aspire to do.
4. A plan to add competencies. This is where you identify the projects, classes or experiences that can help you close the gap between the skills you have and the ones you'll need.
5. A target list. Research companies you'd like to work for, or at least want to know more about. If you intend to stay with your current employer, it's still helpful to think about your company's competitors, so you better understand what your own employer will need from its employees in order to remain competitive.
6. Networking goals. Identify the individuals you want to meet or get to know better, and commit to reaching out to them every quarter with a specific goal in mind, Clarke says. Are you seeking a mentor? Hoping for more information about a company in general? Interested in a particular job within a particular division? "I'm suggesting a framework for very strategic networking," says Clarke. "Consider what you want from these people."
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