Career Planning Tips to Start the New Year Off Strong

Career Planning Tips for The New Year USAA Community.png

By Chad Storlie

Career planning is one of those concepts that seems easy, but when you start to get into the decisions and tradeoffs or your career options, it can quickly become difficult. The most important part of career planning is to do it and to do it at least annually.


Follow these tips to help finish the year strong and to start the new year with a great career plan.


  1. How is My Career and My Company Doing? A solid career review starts with looking both internally and externally. Internally, look at your promotions, pay increases, additional responsibility, and recognition over the last three to five years. Pay increases, end of year bonus payments, company awards, recognition in front of senior executives, increases in the number of people that you manage, and additional responsibilities are a few of the telling career success indicators. More is always better. Externally, how is your company doing with customer satisfaction or its Net Promoter Score (NPS), is profitability and revenue increasing, and is your industry growing? Again, more is better. If your pay & responsibility is growing in a company that is growing, then you are in good shape. If there are other combinations of decreasing pay and your company revenue is shrinking, then you need to look for other career opportunities.

  2. What New Trends Do I Want to Be A Part of My Career? Again, look externally on new trends in technology, business growth, cost reduction, customer preferences, use of data, use of data analytics, and international trends that you can use to improve your own performance. For example, if you have found a way to increase the number of products that customers buy from your company, then is there a way to incorporate new technology to apply your process to all customers in your company? In addition, look outside your current industry for trends in other industries that you could apply to your own company and career. Adopt trends from other industries, competitors, and innovators that will help you do your current job better.

  3. How Do I Align My Strengths To These New Trends? Look at how to use your strengths to build even better value in your career and career potential. When we look at our skills and abilities, we can either build on our “weaknesses” or build upon our strengths. For example, if I have great skill in accounting, but I don’t know any computer programming languages, then learning a computer programming language may help my career some. However, if I build upon my strengths in accounting to determine how can I help the company use accounting data and accounting processes that use computer programming languages to improve accounting processes for the entire company. Often, building your career path on your strengths can then have a greater impact in the company’s success and the success of your career. In most cases, using your strengths more can help your career progress faster than fixing your “weaknesses.”

  4. Who Are People That I Know or Need to Know Align with These New Trends & My Career Aspirations? A part that often is missed in career planning is talking to people inside and outside your current company on how to meet your career objectives. This step is both: (1) networking, the process of connecting with people that can connect you to opportunities, and (2) informational, the process of understanding where and what the current and future opportunities will be. Connecting with people is equal parts a discovery process by talking with other people that have the same passion for how you want your career to progress and using the sessions to understand what skills, abilities, and knowledge you need to progress in the future.

  5. Create Five Ways to Align New Career Trends with Your Career. Career transformations and shifting your career goals are never easy for anyone. Knowing this you can create five different career options.

Below is an example of how you can create five different career options. These are only a few of the potential possibilities.


    1. Option 1 – Same Position – Same Company – Ask for additional aesponsibility.
    2. Option 2 – New Position – Same Company – Look for a lateral move to a new area.
    3. Option 3 – New Position – Same Company – Look for a promotion.
    4. Option 4 – Same Position – New Company – Find a new company and do what you are doing today.
    5. Option 5 – New Position – New Company – Find a new company in a new career path.


Start your career planning off right for the new year. Investigate how well you are doing in your current career track, what trends you can bring from other industries to your current job, talk to other people in and outside your current company, and create career options to make your career plans come true!



Have you made a successful career shift? Share your story and tips on how to plan for career success!


Related Information:


USAA understands and values Veteran and Military Spouse talents and has implemented a new military skills translator, Vetlign, that will take information directly from job descriptions, requirements, education, etc. and identifies USAA jobs applicants are fully qualified for, in addition to jobs they are partially qualified that are currently posted. The platform updates continuously and uses the candidate’s digital resume to provide enhanced awareness of new job postings and potential career development opportunities at USAA. Learn more at



Additional Posts:

How to Plan and Target Your Career Search, Networking and Transition Plan

USAA Leaving the Military Page


About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 360 articles in over 185 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.