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Planning your career backwards

A green image of a microphone, with the words Kaplan’s Learn Better Podcast

Everyone would love to have a job they enjoy, but with jobs continually evolving, career planning can be daunting. Find out how to identify your true skill set and plan your next steps.

Kicking off series 2 of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, explores career planning and how to find a job that you enjoy.

Our guest is Sarah Pritchard, Head of Banking, Finance and Management Design at Kaplan. She describes her own personal journey from studying Set Design at university to finding passion in education. Sharing what she discovered to be important in loving what you do, Sarah provides useful tips for assessing your personal skill set and in turn identifying if a job is right for you.

Together they talk through: recognising what you are good at, how that ability can be reflected in a job, how to prepare for interviews, the best way to express your ambitions to potential employers, and how to reflect on your journey to help establish next steps.

If you find a job you enjoy doing, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

- Mark Twain

Key topics

Not having a traditionally linear career

Sarah shares her personal journey and how her passion changed from what she studied at university to what she wanted to do - career wise. It is important to understand that plans and passions can change over time and you should be flexible with your career plan and allow for reassessment.

If your plans do change, don’t worry that you have wasted time. Instead, it is important to look at your journey so far and identify your strengths and weaknesses and what you would like to develop. These can then help you find a job to help you progress and take your next steps.

Focusing on skill sets rather than job titles

A big part of the conversation focuses on looking at skill sets rather than jobs as often ambition and enjoyment lies within the skill set rather than the job role itself. Every job will have multiple different responsibilities, and it is key to learn what parts of a role you enjoy and make sure these are present when planning your next steps.


Stuart and Sarah explore how to articulate your skill sets and ambitions across to a potential employer. They warn against googling the best answers for common interview questions. Instead, they suggest how to open the interview into a professional discussion, and prepare by thinking about examples where you have demonstrated your skills within the workplace.

Career planning with exploration, prioritisation and action

Sarah details how exploration, prioritisation and action can help you solidify your career plan.

Understand what is the question you are trying to answer. Is it based on skills you need, what your next step up the ladder or how you are going to get a promotion?

Hone in on realistically what is possible and what you need to do next to develop your skills and take a step towards your goal.

Make a positive step. Using SMART objectives create short term goals for you to work towards to help progress your career. Make sure they are timely, measurable and realistic.

Interested in finding out more?

Tune in now to listen to the full conversation (episode 11) on how to plan your career.