The groundwork for success in your security career lies in careful consideration of your goals, your drive and your ability to reach them. Every security professional goes through this complex process at some point in their career.

Effective career management is the opposite of chance. It is based on accurate analysis of your situation, skills, and attributes followed by action you take to improve your position to succeed. The only person who has all this information and can use it to affect change is you. 

A complete picture of you is essential to the creation of an effective resume or CV as well as any online employment profiles. It takes time and effort to think through this, but the exercise is an investment in yourself. It helps set up your best security career direction and gives you control over how potential employers evaluate and perceive you. 

Think about your current employment circumstances. There are lots of reasons to be variously happy or unhappy in your current job. List the pluses and minuses, then consider the role your family situation plays in your career decisions. A partner’s employment, children, aging parents or other family dynamics including financial well-being all have an impact. 

Create a complete list of every job you have ever held, including any military service, internships, summer or part-time employment. Not everything will make it onto your resume or CV, but it will outline directionally where you have been. It can also help identify those things you genuinely enjoyed, may want to revisit and set a direction for. 

Analyze how you chose participation or memberships in business, professional and social associations. If you held office or served on committees, you demonstrated and excelled at leadership. Achievement of certifications, licenses or clearances through organizations reflects commitment. 

Look at your formal education. Include any added non-degree-related work. Would you take a different direction if you were to begin those programs now? Most organizations support lifelong learning. Would literally changing course or seeking additional training put you on a more preferable path? 

Recognition of lifetime achievements is key. Naming what they are will help clarify your personal strengths and preferences. Look for achievements within the scope of normal activities. Think about instances where you were highly motivated and enjoyed what you were doing. Past successes like these indicate interest, talent, ability and potential. 

Even after this reflection, you may not be completely clear about your goals. No job is perfect, and a description of your ideal job and organization can be hard to pin down. What are your immediate objectives including compensation requirements? Are there adverse factors or barriers to you achieving these goals, and how can you overcome them? 

Finally, consider what you want to see in the rear-view mirror when you are at the end of your career. Re-examine your personal value system as it underlies the decisions you make about both your life and career. Staying true to yourself is not always the easy road, but odds are you will be more confident in your career decisions. 

Regardless of where you are in your security career, laying initial or more groundwork for your success is always a worthwhile investment.