Shakespeare is famous for penning “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts”. How can we relate this metaphor to your employment and future career? Let me give it a shot….

The traditional and most popular career stage located in America is The Job Market. If you choose to act out your career on this stage in the 21st century you will have many exits and entrances of jobs (certainly), employers (extremely likely), and occupations (highly likely). As a player on this stage, I have a very important question to ask you: “Who is writing the scripts for your play and who is your director?”

If you have defaulted your script and direction to your family/friends/bosses/etc., then it would not be unusual for your career to become unsatisfying. Heck, over half of all employed people in America are dissatisfied with their current jobs. Perhaps you, or someone you know, is experiencing lowered motivation, retarded personal development, atrophied skills, and decreased income. If so, here’s the good news: At any time you may choose to write your own script, become self-directed, and take control of your future starting now.

A well-developed career planning process can empower you to improve your current career situation and develop your own personalized script (career plan) to guide your future exits and entrances. Here are some items to consider in developing your unique career plan:

What you have to offer… What are your talents? Of those talents, which ones are both (1) ones you want to utilize in your work and (2) ones that employers most desire?

Your career motivations… What activities are you motivated to do as part of your daily work? What have you done in the past, if anything, that aligned with these motivations?

Your future occupations… What have you done successfully in the past? Where else do you have motivations and applicable skills/education? What specifically do you want to do next? Where do you want this to lead you in 5, 10, or 20 years?

Your future environments… What types of products, services, etc. interest and excite you? With what types of people do you like to work? How do you like to be managed and motivated to do your best?

Your development plan… What education, certification, or other credentials would be worth pursuing? (Note: I’m not an MBA or “education for the sake of education” fan.) What personal development could you gain through on-the-job experience, company training, or self-study? What additional soft skills need development?

Your ACTION plan… What is your time frame of making your next career change? What specifically is your goal and what benefits are you seeking from it? What is your specific plan of action for pursuing and achieving your goal? (No amount of planning will make up for lack of action. Take action!)

Your future job title, employer reputation, etc., contribute to your personal brand at your current employer and, if you leave, on your future resumes. I have spoken to thousands of executives and professionals over the past 11+ years as a full time professional in the career field and less than 10% had a coherent career plan. Even fewer had their plan written out, so it could be logically reviewed and objective feedback provided to them. Even fewer were taking consistent, effective action that was likely to lead them to their goals. Creating and executing your unique career plan can provide you a competitive advantage over 90% of your competition.

As I mention in Chapter 4 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!),

“There is a popular expression that there are three types of people in the world – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who fail to notice things and eventually wake up to ask “What happened?”. To succeed in the 21st century, you need to become someone who makes things happen… especially when it comes to your career satisfaction.”   

You have the inherent ability to become your own director of YOUR career play, writing the scripts and acting out the parts you desire to play… when you want to play them. You can take control of your career happiness and reap the rewards of being true to yourself. Become your own director and write the screenplay of your career and life.

What have been your experiences with directing your career? What could others learn from you? I would love to have your comments.


Richard Kirby is an executive career consultant, speaker on career strategies, and author of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!). Richard Kirby’s earlier experience includes managing engineering, human resources, marketing and sales teams for employers that ranged from a Fortune 100 to a VC-funded entrepreneurial startup. For the past 11 years at Executive Impact, Richard has helped hundreds of executives and professionals successfully navigate today’s transformed 21st century job market and achieve better employment for themselves. Richard’s expertise includes career assessments and goal setting, personal marketing/branding, resume enhancement, strategic networking and job interviewing, and “contrarian” job search methodologies. He is a Board Certified Coach (in career coaching) and a Certified Management Consultant (recognized by the ISO).