Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
As an executive recruiter, I’ve heard this question presented to job seekers during interviews time and time again. It provides employers with insight into the vision of one’s professional self, and it seeks to establish how well the company and position fit according to the candidate’s objectives and drive for professional achievement. While your ideal career track is not necessarily aligned with this specific timeline, it is vital that you define and articulate the criteria most important to you. Doing so places you and potential employers on the same page of expectations.
Your career progression hinges firmly upon a work-life harmony that is intuitive to your own set of aspirations and definition of success. Oftentimes what candidates want to pursue in their careers is not necessarily what they need in their lives. They may be holding on to goals and aspirations that are no longer in sync with their current lives. The key to a fulfilling career lies in the honest understanding of who you are today and what’s intrinsically important to you, both personally and professionally. To ensure you proceed on a path that allows for growth and runs parallel to the foundational requirements predetermined in your career search, ask yourself the following questions;
How do I measure success; where do I want to be in 5-10 years? Companies and people grow – they evolve and change. Determine where you see yourself professionally and evaluate the timeline to achieve these objectives. As a manager of finance looking to take the next step into a VP or CFO role, your time and effort is inevitably prioritized and focused on reaching that level. If climbing the corporate ladder isn’t the primary focus of your career, recognize key components within a position that will maintain harmony, drive business and ultimately realize your success.
What does my life look like? Evaluate what is most important to you, career aside. When life pulls you in a different direction, responsibilities will mandate you to take a different course. Being comfortable with the situation you are presented may indicate that what you once wanted may not be what you need today. In finding the balance between profession and parenthood, do you want the flexibility to attend your child’s midday school function or perhaps work remotely to minimize the time spent commuting? Understanding where your priorities lie will determine how to achieve harmony in the office and at home.
How do I think my next role will best fit into my life just described? ‘Check in’ with yourself once a year to determine whether you’re on the right path and evaluate the professional into whom you’ve grown. Doing so will keep the perception of who you are and the reality of who you are in sync and will help ensure that you remain in a role that facilitates growth and job satisfaction. Look for synergies within the company culture and your own set of ideals to identify your best fit, then prioritize your actions.
An introspective evaluation of your objectives and timeline will enable you to lead a fulfilled career. Investing in your future with an annual self-assessment will help protect against looking back 20 years from now and wishing you had taken another route. As you identify, define and redefine your vision, I am interested in the approach you take to answering the question; Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?