Career Planning & Development

By Gary Markell.

My Future My PlanIt is never too late to get on-track toward the career you sincerely want to have. Do you feel frustrated, thwarted or limited within your situation?  As a recruiter here at IBM, I get a chance to hear many stories of people who set their sights upon working at IBM. It is intriguing to me to hear all the things people do to prepare for the opportunity to work at one of the largest and most successful IT companies in the world.  One gentleman told me that every step that he has taken, including getting his degree, attaining certifications, and self-study, has been done with one goal in mind, and that was to work for IBM.  Originally, he formulated a plan and did the purposeful things he needed to do, not only to work in a position of choice, but with the company he had dreamed of working for years ago when he was just a teen. His goal was realized because he was willing to see beyond the given scope of his situation, and he took action.

What direction would you like your career to go?  How far-reaching within your career path do you desire to achieve?  It might be time to make a change.  Attaining a new career or moving up your current career path typically does not come all at once.  You need to be focused, develop a plan and start building a series of steps or bridges toward your long-term goal.

Determine your best career discipline

What do you like and what makes sense?  Whether you are still in high school or a seasoned veteran, take some steps to quantify your career direction.

  • Take Inventory – What do you have already that will add value regarding you goal?

Education and Training, Traits, Skills, Experiences, Talents, and Personal Characteristics.  What are your passions? What do you avoid? Construct a list.

  • Career & Personality Testing. Testing can confirm or even reveal some areas you should be considering and may not have even thought of yet. (See links below)
  • Research – Do some reading about your career ideas. Sit in on a few class lectures.
  • Get council – Have a Career Mentor or Life Coach. (If possible find a mentor with some experience related to your field of choice)

Have a “stepping stone” approach

Determine what needs to happen for you to make this career change a successful transition.

Focus on reasonable goals that are attainable within pre-set time frames.

  • Write out your career goals
  • Be accountable. Announce and proclaim your goals to those people you respect and can confide in.

Make logical and simple decisions and do not let baggage interrupt or influence your goals and dreams.

  • Past failures. Everyone has them.  Be a difference maker.  Ignore the past.  The past does not own you. Every day is new and around every corner are new inspirations.
  • Family pressures. Family members often mean well, but this needs to be your decision. Stay focused.
  • Bad habits? Create and exercise a good work ethic. It takes conviction to make changes.
  • Think positive and take stock of your opportunities and do not dwell upon doubts.



  • Determine if you may need a particular degree to reach your goal
  • Find the right school and define resources to pay for the schooling


  • If you can or are able to change jobs within your current company, ask about support and training to do so.
  • Certifications – Get specific certified training where available.
  • Non-specific career enhancement. Improve your Leadership, communications, project management, speaking and presenting skills through training.


  • Volunteer to help on a project where valuable experience can be gleaned and later can be added to your resume. In some cases internships are available as well.

Additional resources

Join clubs and industry associations that can offer support and exposure to learning.

  • There are many organizations that can help you enhance your career such as Toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, etc.
  • Social Media – Especially professional sites such as LinkedIn where there are specific Industry and trade groups available.

Personality and Career Testing links. Here are just a few samples:
Know Your Type

Other links:

Jobs at IBM

Consulting with IBM

IBM Career Development

About the Author

gary-markellGary Markell is a senior recruiter with IBM working within GBS, Global Business Services division. With over 20 years experience starting his recruiting career in 1993, Gary Markell has been a full life cycle recruiter, Account Manager, Director of financial Services Recruiting, and in past owned his own recruiting agency for over six years. Gary Markell has served as trainer, mentor many times. Father of eight, he resides in Southeast Michigan with his wife Cristita and three youngest children, C.J., Anna and Timothy. He is active in church, as part of the choir and worship team, and has served in mission work in his past. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

2 thoughts

  1. Great summary on career planning and development which shows the importance of being intentional and purposeful when making career decisions. Oftentimes people run FROM a bad situation instead of running TOWARD the next stepping stone in their career and then wonder why they cannot find the vocation they are desperately seeking.

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