What is a career trajectory? Where are you going in yours?

And how will you get there?

Three vitally important questions to ask yourself to get the career of your dreams.

This article will look at the terms and strategies that will help you plan for the future you’ve always wanted.

Career Trajectory Definition: What Is Career Trajectory?

Your career trajectory is an intended path your career follows over time.

You can imagine this path as a line graph.

 

career trajectory diagonal line upwards
An ideal career trajectory

 

If you are constantly moving upwards in your industry or company, your trajectory might look like the above, where a diagonal line heading upwards and to the right.

For some, your professional trajectory might be a “V” shape, the bottom of the V representing a temporary downward trajectory before skyrocketing back.

 

career trajectory progression of up and down trends
Majority of career progressions fall under this career trajectory.

Often, most career trajectories will resemble wavy lines as you experience the ups and downs of your path.

Those without ambitions to climb higher might even have a horizontal trajectory where they’re happy where they’re at and don’t want to go any higher.

None of these trajectories are either wrong or right, they’re all possible futures, and you’ll need to decide which is right for you.

Describe Your Career Trajectory

Career Trajectory Statement

A career trajectory statement is a written affirmation of where you want your career to end up and your stepping stones along the way.

To define your career path is vitally essential in securing your intended future.

By writing your statement, you are intentional and mindful of your future.

You will be more likely to devote yourself fully to a pursuit rather than simply floating through life by living with intention.

Writing a trajectory statement can also help keep you accountable.

You can show your statement to trusted family or friends, who can help keep you accountable to your goals, or this can be purely personal.

Holding ourselves accountable to our goals ensures we don’t become stagnant.

How Do You Write A Career Trajectory Plan?

There are specific steps and considerations to creating a career trajectory statement; it isn’t as simple as writing a few sentences.

Step 1: The first step is to consider your passions and interests. This will help you identify future goals for your career.

Step 2: The second step is to focus on one specific career market or industry. Do you want to be in finance? Sales? Entertainment?

With greater focus, you increase your odds of success.

Step 3: Next comes the research. You need to know the ins and outs of your targeted industry, but you also need to research yourself.

What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how will these help or hinder you in this industry?

Step 4: Set your SMART goals. Please write down your goals.

And ensure they are :

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-specific

Once you know your goals, work backward from where you want to go to where you are now.

Be as detailed as possible, and give yourself yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals to achieve on your way.

Step 5: The last step is to remain flexible.

When creating long-term goals, you will inevitably need to adjust as you go because there are plenty of uncontrollable factors in your career trajectory.

Sample Career Trajectory

My career trajectory is to become a full-time freelance writer in five years. To achieve this goal, I will need to:

 

  • Acquire a portfolio of work
  • Gather potential recurring clients
  • Take courses or attend workshops to continue improving my skills as a writer
  • Establish an online presence for social proof

Why Is Career Trajectory Important?

Career trajectory is vital because you need to know how to get there.

Simply existing in your current life and hoping things will get better is not enough.

At times in your career, achieving your desired career path may require a backward progression.

This may be a short stint where you may earn less or have less authority to gain new skills and experience to climb higher later.

For example, perhaps you are currently in sales, but you want to work in HR and eventually become a Human Resources manager.

You might need to start at the bottom of your HR department and start working your way upward.

At first glance, this move to HR might be seen as a negative move because you might be making less money or have less clout in your organization.

But because you can see the bigger picture, you know this backward progression is only temporary and will lead to much greater success.

Having a defined career path can also help when you feel stagnant or like you are not progressing fast enough.

When we can see our future success, it makes the day-to-day work of getting there more accessible.

Thinking about your professional trajectory can also be helpful in honestly assessing your current abilities.

Sometimes we may think we are already ready to be a CEO, but when we evaluate ourselves honestly, we might find we lack specific skills or experiences necessary.

Once we know our deficits, we can find ways to improve.

Similarly, knowing our strengths is crucial because we can actively use them in our day-to-day work.

Knowing our strengths also helps us explain our value to our industry more efficiently.

Career Trajectory Synonyms & When Should You Use Them?

1.    Career Path

A career path is another term for career trajectory and can be used interchangeably with a career trajectory.

2.    Career Map

A career map is another term for a career trajectory statement. Depending on your learning style, this can be a written plan or visual.

3.    Career Plan

A career plan is the same as your career trajectory statement.

4.    Career Advancement

Career advancement is the progression you take in your career.

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