Create a career mind map to gain clarity in your job search and career discovery. Through this simple exercise, you can uncover layers of actions to take.
What’s On Your Career Mind Map?
In middle school, I was obsessed with typography. I had two separate notebooks I brought to school. One was my ‘scribble down notes from class as quickly as the teacher speaks’. The other was my ‘sit down and re-write everything in perfect, legible penmanship.’ This technique was actually good for two reasons: (1) my classmates complimented my handwriting and were amazed at how perfect my notes were, (2) it helped me retain information better as memorization/repetition are one of my learning styles. Getting good grades in good style… what more can a seventh grader ask for
As I look back, drawing was never in my repertoire. Numbers and letters made sense to me. Curves and shading were foreign. My humans all looked the same. Everyone was stick thin and either possessed straight or curly hair. The only 3-D shape I knew how to draw was (and still is) a box.
At the age of 29, I finally started to doodle thanks to a friend who introduced me to The Doodle Revolution. This book demonstrates that all of us can doodle and doodling unlocks new ideas and patterns. Now, I’m not saying you’re going to be the next Picasso, but everyone really can doodle. It’s a really great way to make a cumbersome task more fun! I decided to doodle a career mind map.
What is a Career Mind Map?
In high school, I was taught to ‘brainstorm’ my English essays. This was typically done by thinking of a topic, then writing sub-topics, and everything related to that sub-topic. Mind mapping is the same exact thing! In this exercise, the topic will be your career.
Creating a career mind map is a great way to organize and brainstorm your thoughts onto paper, leading to clarity around your career. By putting all of your thoughts on to paper, one thought can lead to another, and suddenly you have a complete picture of what your career looks like – or should look like!
What Should I Mind Map Out?
Everyone’s career mind map will be slightly different. I would start off with your career in the middle. Perhaps you have one already in mind. If you’re a doctor and see yourself remaining in that field, then “Doctor” would go in the very center. If you’re undecided, you can just leave “Career” in the middle.
In my example, my career is CultiVitae. I plan on continuing to build out my services and this blog, so that’s what goes in the very center.
Next, are sub-topics. Some helpful areas you can map out are listed below. Not everything will pertain to you, but here’s a pretty good list to start with if it’s important for you to think about.
- Short-Term Goals (You can define this, is this the next 6 months? next year?)
- Long-Term Goals (Again, define this. For me this meant 1-year goal).
- Why? (Why do you want to continue your career? If you’re unsure of your career, what is most important to you?)
- Non-Negotiable’s (Are there things that you absolutely cannot part with? Is there something each job/position has to have?)
- Strengths (What are you great at? What makes you different from your competitors?)
- Education/Credentials (Is there a certain program or certificate you need to further your goal?)
- Need to Dos (What actions do you need to propel your career in the right place?)
- Core Values (What is most important to you?)
- Monetary Rewards (What must you have? Is there a minimum salary? Benefits? Vacation days?)
- Intrinsic Rewards (Do you need flex commute? Do you seek a mentoring boss? What is important to you outside of your paycheck?)
- Industries (what type of company/industries do you want to work in?)
- Influencers (who do you admire or follow for advice?)
- Enjoyments (what makes you the most happy about your past experiences?)
- Dreadfuls (what makes you dread work?)
RELATED: What is a Career Coach and Why Did I Become One?
Mind Maps are Evolving
As you map out these different areas, you will start to form a clearer picture of what it is you truly want. These sub-topics should give you an idea of what you need to start working on, how to realistically get there, and help you shape a clear action plan!
One last thing, as we evolve, our careers evolve. It’s okay to have multiple mind maps and to revisit yours frequently. Things change! You have to seize the best opportunity in front of you today. That may change some of your short-term goals, but try not to lose sight of your long-term goal. Ask yourself how your decisions impact that long-term goal or how you need to shift your long-term goal.
Hope you have fun doodling your career! I’d love to see your Career Mind Map.
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Hey Emily! Thanks for sharing this… you know what, I’m going to dedicate some time to do this for Cubicle Chic and also myself… I’m curious what the process will unveil!! Cultivitae is always so fill of insight 😀
Jessica || Cubicle Chic
Thank you Emily for a great article with a very inspiring message! Knowing your goals gives you the purpose of life and why you are doing what you do. Your style of writing reminded me of this great lady Irene Kot. I like reading her blog posts about career, family, wellbeing, personal finance etc. Even though, she started with a young mommy’s style blog, her posts now cover up deep topics, including some motivating articles. If you have a minute, I recommend you checking her website.