Planning your career in Planning

For any career path, planning is key – and no-one understands this more than planners.  Whether you’re a town planner, masterplanner or even a marketing planner, knowing where you want to go and how to get there is vital to career progression.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
Fear is inhibiting and generally, stops you from doing things.  Walking into a crowded room, public speaking, being an expert witness for a planning appeal or making those first steps towards leaving your current job can be terrifying.

There are many ways to overcome this but here’s some of the easiest to put into practice:

  • Preparation is the best form of defence – do your research about the task in hand (e.g. other event attendees, subject matter of the talk you are giving or the planning appeal case).  Feeling prepared will outweigh the fear of the task itself.

  • Find a routine – if the thing you’re fearing is something you do a regular basis; develop a routine you can follow.  Focusing on that routine will distract your brain from that fact you’re terrified.

  • Safety in Numbers – if walking into a networking event alone is your Kryptonite, ask a friend to come along with you.  This can also work well if you are giving a presentation as it will give you a familiar face to look at when you’re feeling vulnerable.
  • Reward yourself – doing these things that scare you is a good thing. Rewarding yourself with a pint of beer, a family size bar of chocolate or a trip to the cinema afterwards gives you something to focus on during the scary task ahead.  It also serves as a good reminder that it will all be over soon enough.

Get (and stay) informed

There are many ways to stay informed about the industry and career opportunities.  The internet and social media have made access to this type of information easier than ever however, don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is the only thing you have to do.

Networking events (whilst the bane of most people’s lives) are extremely useful when it comes to keeping informed.  You’ll get the opportunity to hear from your peers about their experiences as well as gain insight as to market direction.

What’s That Noise?
Silence – the sound of opportunity not knocking.  The sound of doors remaining firmly on their hinges as no-one bashes them down to offer you a job.

That sounds bleak but what we’re trying to say is there will be times where you will need to go out and find your own opportunities as well as allowing them to come to you.

We’ve also mentioned that staying informed is key and that will go a long way when it comes to seeking out opportunities for yourself.

Other ways to find new opportunities include:

  • Showing an interest in a new project or subject matter e.g. Natural Capital Accounting methods in planning for development, eco-friendly development techniques or the mystery of the standard methodology for calculating housing requirements.  Join social media groups around these subjects and use those new connections to keep informed.

  • Public speaking is a powerful way to express views and ideas as well as learning from others.  If you’re asked to speak at events, within reason, always say yes.  Whilst you won’t always know how you are perceived as a speaker, the discussion it will bring is always rewarding and often sparks ideas which can lead to potential opportunities.

Don’t Suffer in Silence
Up until now, we’ve been talking about potential opportunities which are outside of your current employment.  What if you’re missing opportunities which are right underneath your nose?

Are there established KPIs in your current business that state what is expected of you in order to take the next step up the career ladder?  If so, then working towards those KPIs will allow you to explore opportunities within your current role.

Of course, you may not know how to work towards them (nothing wrong with that - nobody knows everything!).  If that is the case, go against everything you know to be safe and ask someone! Be it a more senior colleague, a connection from your networking in the same industry or even Google (though go careful with that last one), asking the question is the only way to get an answer.

If you’re in a consultancy environment, we’ve expanded on how to progress your career in another article which you can find here.

Let’s Get Flexible
No, we’re not telling you to start doing Yoga or Pilates.  Remaining flexible and keeping an open mind are important to career progression, especially in the current socio-political climate.  When the unexpected happens and throws that plan to the wind, it’s not always in a bad way. 

We’ve seen this happen a number of times – out of the blue, a hugely attractive client side proposition crops up.  This type of opportunity is difficult to plan for as they are much fewer and farther between than the potential consultancy roles you’d planned for.  They can be very attractive propositions which are worth staying flexible for.

If you only plan to look for a new career opportunity when you are absolutely ready to (or, worse, need to), you will find yourself in a weaker position when it comes to securing a role and negotiating the terms.  

Looking at opportunities when you are happy in your current role means you will be exploring anything new from a position of strength as you don’t really need to move.  This means you can negotiate very attractive terms and positively alter your career trajectory.

Have you found this article helpful? Do you have any advice you'd like to share? We’d love to hear from you - get in touch with us on LinkedIn.