The Great Recession has fundamentally shifted the employment landscape in this country. The rules of the game have changed and your success in The New Economy will depend on your ability to adjust to these new rules. I truly believe we are entering into an age of "career entrepreneurialism", an age where careers aren’t pursued they are created.

Whether you are a battle-tested workforce veteran or graduating college senior, you are going to have to start thinking differently. The number of defined job slots available is continuing to dwindle – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment has gone up from a year ago! This means that you are going to have to start getting more creative and ultimately more competitive.

Yes, you are going to have to start thinking like an entrepreneur. In one way, shape, or form, every entrepreneur has their own personalized Plan and so should you.

Taking Charge by Planning:

As a coach trained in the field of organizational psychology, I am firmly against the notion of one-size-fits-all. I believe in guiding people through processes as opposed to prescribing specific rules. Hence, the odea is to create a "you" plan.

Creating a "you" plan starts with taking stock of who you are and the assets you have at your disposal. Although this sounds simple, it’s not. Both transitioning professions and students alike tend to struggle with this. Developing a "you" plan is about asking yourself five fundamental questions (I remember them as VIPER):

• What are my Values?
• What are my Intrinsics?
• What are my Passions
• What is my Essence or personal brand?
• What is my Roadmap for making it happen?

When I talk about understanding who you are and the assets you have, I am really talking about focused introspection. The first three questions really focus on looking inward and getting a sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you bring to the table. Before you can make a series push to get out there and make your next career move, you need to have a firm handle on your Values, Intrinsics, and Passions or what I like to refer to as your VIPs. Consider the fact that:

• Your Values are what drive your decision making
• Your Intrinsics are what you bring to the table
• Your Passions are what generate your energy

If you can answer these three questions you have answered the basic question of what is your Essence. Your Essence (or who you are as a job candidate) is a great thing to have a handle on, but like any great product or brand, if nobody knows about it, who cares. Turning your Essence into a brand that can be effectively marketed to potential employers and customers is a critical step in the "you" planning process.

After establishing your brand, the final step is to determine your targets and lay out a Roadmap for finding them. The process of introspection and branding is all academic without a Roadmap for getting out of the career hot seat and making it happen.

Creating a "you" plan isn’t easy and it shouldn’t be. However, it is a critical first step in creating a successful career. Keep in mind, would an NFL coach field his team on Sunday afternoon without a game plan? Would an airline pilot take off with a plane full of passengers and no flight plan? Would a general take to the battlefield without a strategy? I think not.

Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is author of the new career book: The YOU Plan and is a CEC certified professional coach trained in organizational psychology.

Dr. Woody also writes a weekly column for titled "The Career Hot Seat" and sits on the Academic Advisory Board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership.