Careers Advice: Planning your career

Written by: Juliet Clark
Published on: 4 Nov 2019

Career options (getty)

Would you like career resilience and job satisfaction? Then read on. Having worked as a property researcher, planning consultant, regeneration consultant, garden designer and socioeconomic & wellbeing planner, this diversity has enabled me to specialise, given me career choices and kept my interest and enthusiasm. So how do you achieve this?

The Long Game: Keep an eye on the long game: your working life span could extend to your 70s, but when you start out its easy to focus on the first decade or so, particularly if you are female and would like a family. I have found it helpful to consider three phases: pre-children, the parenting years and post children. Set realistic goals in each phase and take advantage of the opportunities that are unique to each stage.  

Diversity or specialisation: The first decade of your career offers a unique opportunity to try a range of jobs. Financial commitments are relatively low, you are more likely to footloose and there is less expectation on younger employees to have in depth knowledge and experience.  Make the most of this time and work for a range of employees- public or private, client or consultancy, commercial or publicly minded bodies, covering different property types and stages in the planning and development process.  

Sideways moves: It takes courage to deliberately step sideways diverting yourself from linear career progression and its associated promotions and financial rewards. In my experience the long-term gains make this a worthwhile career strategy. You are likely to be a better planner as it will give you a more in-depth understanding of place making and the development process and will further your career. You build up a network of contacts, your skills will appeal to a wider range of employees giving career resilience and it can help you identify a specialism in which you can excel. In short it gives you choices. 

Focused job moves: Be clear in your own mind what experience or knowledge you want from each move. This will tide you over the sometimes difficult business of starting at a new workplace and ensure you get satisfaction from your job. My job moves were motivated by wanting to make the world a better place (don’t we all!), interesting projects, desire to understand commercial development, developing a personal interest, fitting work around family, and most recently wanting to specialise in community infrastructure, health and wellbeing.

Realistic expectations: Parenting years bring less time to devote to career, time out of the workplace and financial pressures. Balancing these is difficult, but children soon grow up so enjoy your children, set realistic expectations of what you can achieve and don’t forget there is plenty of time after children to further your career.  

Post children: This may be a time for revving up your planning career aspirations following a  career break, change in job or having had to put ambitions on a back burner as lego, ‘taxi services’ and dispute resolution took over your life. As a 47-year-old with two teenagers soon to fly the nest and having worked for the last 15 years as a garden designer, fitting around the needs of the family, I realise I have more than 20 years left in my planning career. This is an ideal time to specialise, bringing together life and diverse work experience to fulfil career ambitions.  

So, view your career as a long game, give yourself choices  and build in resilience to ensure you get the most from planning and planning gets the best from you.

Juliet Clark is principal planner at consultancy Bidwells

Pic: Getty