March 23, 2022

Career Planning Mistakes

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
Get the proven strategies your boss or HR don't want you to know that are proven to work (even with budget cuts, restructuring, and if you've been told "no")
Download now

There are specific strategies you can use that will set your career plan up for success.  Through my years of helping pharma/biotech professionals create development plans that get them to the next level there are also some mistakes to avoid. 

Whether it’s a promotion or continuous growth, avoid these career plan mistakes and instead follow the strategies in this episode to get you to your next level fast. Avoid the generic career advice and follow these proven tips instead.

What You’ll Learn

How to create a career development plan that will get you to your next level

Why you shouldn’t listen to your boss to decide what to do

How to find your next career move even if it isn’t on the company org chart

The limitations of following HR advice for your career development

Featured in This Episode

Register for the new training: 5 Steps to Knowing Your Next Career Move on March 29th at

1-1 Career & Leadership Coaching –
Schedule a consultation here:

Career Path Navigator: If what you really want is to know what career or role would be the best fit for you and allow you to have the impact you want to – this is the program for you.  Save the date – doors open March 29th.   Learn more at

Career Quiz: Are you in the right career? Get your answer and a free guide of next steps in less than 2 minutes.

Connect with me:

Rate, Review, and Subscribe in Apple Podcasts and Spotify

If you are loving the podcast, please consider rating and reviewing my podcast! This helps me support more people — just like you — get happier in their career and their life by making the show more visible.

For APPLE: Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with stars, and then select “Write a Review.” Let me know what you loved most about the episode!

For SPOTIFY: Click here on the mobile app and tap your star rating at the top of the show.

Also, if you aren’t already, be sure to subscribe to the podcast. If you’re not subscribed you can miss out on any bonus episodes! Subscribe now on Apple or Follow on Spotify.



Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills, and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode. Today is going to be really all about raising the bar, raising the bar for you, raising the bar for corporate culture, for our work environments, to really create the type of experience where you love what you do and you’re in an environment that supports you. And when you focus on making sure that you’re in the right role, that you’re prioritizing what you really want and making that happen, that is going to raise the bar for everyone. Right? Because the status quo is no longer going to be what’s good enough or settling.

That’s going to be the old way to approach work. It’s going to be people that are doing the work that’s exciting for them, that is energizing for them, and that they’re having big impacts and making a big difference, producing even more for themselves, for their legacy, and for the companies that they work for. So let’s just dive right in. I’m going to share with you how you can make a really important shift. The shift from a checking the box development plan.

That is just something that’s a requirement, something that you have to do. I know a lot of companies have career development plans and depending on where you work, they have different levels of investment, right? Some are more employee guided, some are a check the box activity and more optional. And some are a conversation between you and your manager. And there’s actually a real focus on your growth.

And that is wonderful because we want to shift away from that area of kind of just doing things in routine because it’s what’s expected, because it’s that time of year, because you have to put it in your HR system. And instead we want you to focus on the areas of growth that are really important for you, the things that you want to learn and develop in so that you can get into your ideal career quickly and effectively. So I want to walk you through on this episode seeing what is possible for you and having also the most tangible steps of things to consider as you’re creating your career plan for this year and really for your career plan in the future as well. So I want you to imagine what it would be like to be in a role that energizes you, where you aren’t bored, but you’re excited for what you can contribute because you know that you’re delivering in your area of expertise, you’re contributing to your work in a way that only you can. You actually look forward to meetings.

It’s hard to take time off because you love your work. So much, can you even imagine no longer waiting for Fridays, waiting for the weekend, waiting for holidays or vacation time, but actually having a hard time leaving work because you love it so much? I didn’t think that was possible, but that is what I’m living right now. So being in a career you love is one of the most powerful ways to make an impact in this world and improve your life, really from all angles. Because it’s more than just what should my career plan be.

I want you to think about the difference between operating at your best, being in a job that you really love and how you are at home when you have that, versus when you’re in a job where you’re stressed out and you’re on your phone all the time thinking you’re going to miss something where your boss might email you and you need to be available all the time and you’re feeling like you’re not measuring up, like you’re not in your perfect job, you’re just not having the impact that you want and feel like you’re settling. That’s a really big difference between the two. So I’m going to share some mistakes people make when creating a career plan and what to do instead so that you can have the kind of career plan that is actually going to take you somewhere that you want to go. So the first mistake is to let the organizational chart at work make your decision for what should go into your career plan. So why is this a mistake?

Because your ideal position or next move may not be on your company’s organizational chart. chart at your work is focused on the past and it doesn’t always reflect business needs. They often aren’t even up to date. So it’s possible to have roles created for you to get insight into upcoming roles that aren’t yet on the organizational chart based on a projected business need. So you don’t want to let what’s on your chart at work at your current company let you make decisions about what is possible for you.

Because that is small thinking, and I’ve becoming more and more known for helping people get into roles that they create for themselves. I’m having this happen all the time. I had a client that went through the process that I use with helping people identify their next career role. And what she wanted and what she decided is what she wanted doesn’t currently exist, but felt very strongly that it was a business needs. So she had come to me thinking she’s going to change departments, that maybe she would change companies.

She had been with the company she was with for a long time, and so she was ready to move on and do something different. But instead, when she went through my process, she found that she loved the Department that she was in. It was just the type of work that she was doing and how she was feeling about the value she was bringing in her role that weren’t aligned. So what we did is we looked at what she wanted to do and created a business case for that. And then I helped her influence her leadership and position herself to create the role because there was a business need.

So it’s aligning what you want with a need that your company has or that a company has. And there’s a strategic way to do that that will help your company see the value in creating that role for you. So that client, she got promoted two times over a couple of years and got put in a position that didn’t exist before. And I just got off a call with a client that is in Career Path Navigator. And similarly, she influenced her leadership to make some tweaks to the job description that they were posting for, to incorporate the things that she discovered through my process.

And then she has been in that position for a few months, went through my process again, because when you join Career Path Navigator, you have access to the material and the programs ongoing. So she went through it again to reaffirm what she wanted for her next step. And now she’s doing that again. She learned the skills that I taught her to plant the seeds and to strategically position herself to have roles created for her. So you have to look outside of the organizational chart when you’re thinking about what you want and think about what you want first, not what is already in existence.

Is this blowing your mind? Because when I tell people this, I was just talking about this actually last week with another group and they were thinking, well, having roles created for you, doing this, tapping into a hidden job market that’s for the elite, it’s for the select few, it’s for the people in the C suite. And it’s really not I’ve helped people do this from management roles, from director roles and above.

I would say anywhere like management to above, you can really have the influence to have any role created for you if there is a business need and you strategically position yourself. So mistake number two is you use your resume and past experience to make a future decision. So I’m going to talk about someone else, another client that I had, she had a very extensive resume in her specific area of expertise, as a lot of my clients do. But she was actually ready to just move geographical locations if it meant that she would love her work again. She wanted to do something completely different, something where she was using her new phone skills because as humans, we grow, we develop new skills and interests.

And she wasn’t feeling hurt at work, but she just wasn’t sure what she wanted. She had some problems with her leadership team and her management, and she just wasn’t sure she was going to be able to provide the value and the contribution that she wanted to and the space that she was in. So again, we went through the same process, discovered exactly what it is that she wanted and what she was able to do is change what she was doing in her role that she’s in now to make it more rewarding for her. But then she also realized that there was kind of a side hustle, a side gig she wanted to do as kind of a personal hobby that she could get paid for. So now she’s doing that while she’s also happier at work and doing more of the work that she loves.

And it’s all on her term, she doesn’t have to necessarily change her role or title. So there are some of you that are like, I really want the title change. I really want the pay change. And for this person, she was already making a good salary. She had a good title.

She just wanted to negotiate the type of work she was doing day in and day out because her skills changed. And there were things that, quite honestly, other people at other levels could do instead. And so we positioned her to be able to do that. But if she had only looked at her resume, if she had only looked at what she had done before, she never would have figured out what she really wanted. Because when you’re looking at what you’ve done before and then just thinking, what is that next logical step?

You’re not really looking at what’s possible or what you really want. You’re just doing what makes sense. And the longer you do that, the harder it is to really get in touch with what you want, and then the more unhappy you get in your career. So there’s a lot going on with why we make decisions the way that we do. And it’s just natural that we’re limited in what we think is possible for ourselves.

So that’s why it’s really helpful to have someone outside of you help you make these decisions because they can see something in you that you may not be able to see for yourself. That’s why. Or one of the reasons that coaching is just so powerful. Okay, now the third mistake that people make when they are creating career plans or their career development plan through work is to let their boss decide what their options are. So for the bosses, the management, the people leaders on this episode listening in, I don’t mean to offend, but you really don’t know what your employee should do.

So I’m just going to take a drink of water and let that sink in.

So your boss’s boss, even if you have the best boss, and I know that there are some great ones that listen to this podcast. You can have the best boss ever, but your boss is going to be looking at things from their perspective. Now, if you watch The Matrix, or if you’re familiar at all with this kind of perceived reality versus actual reality and the neuroscience behind that, your boss and every other human has their own version of reality that’s a little bit different from yours based on their experience, how they grew up, the way that their brain works. So when you go to your boss and ask them, what should I do for my career? What do you think my next step is?

What do you think my options are? What do you think I would be good at? They definitely are going to have some valuable insight and some input that you should consider, but they’re only going to see what’s possible based on their opinion and expertise and their experience, not what you’re actually capable of. So it’s all going to be through the lens of how they look at possibility for themselves and others and their opinions of you. But they don’t know what’s missing for you.

You might not even know what’s missing for you. So you have to take your boss’s feedback with a grain of salt because it’s not only a little bit relevant to you as a human being, but it’s also going to be biased to your company because your boss is going to have to, at some level, in most cases, be thinking about the company needs to and you’re so much bigger than the company that you’re at. So they’re going to have that human filter, that human lens that’s going to make it relevant only in that regard. But then also it’s going to be biased to them and their company. So you have so much more potential than your company might be able to provide you.

So you have to look bigger than that. So again, I had another client, and what she wanted when we went through my process was outside of her company altogether. So she’s a leader in medical affairs, and she felt called to go another path and to work in another area. And she didn’t really know what that was at the time until we went through my process. But when she went through it, she discovered she really wanted to work in another space that her boss wouldn’t have supported.

But if she had gone to her boss and asked him and made her plan based on that, instead of hiring me or doing this work to look bigger, she would have just followed this path that was continuing her in the direction of continuing to not be happy. So that’s something to really think about, that you really have to stop looking externally outside of yourself to know what should go in your career plan, and also to let go of really what you’ve been taught around what your career plan should be and what is possible and how to make these decisions. So the fourth mistake is that you only include your company sponsored programs for your development. So your company sponsored training programs, development programs, they’re going to be very limited and they’re going to be biased to your organization. So when your company has development programming, it goes through a process of usually human resources and some other leaders deciding on the development offerings and strategy based on your company’s goals.

When you only use the development options available to you through work, you aren’t really focusing on what you want because you’re going through a filter of what your company wants first. So I have another client story, a great example. She wasn’t happy with her company, so she hired me to help her figure out exactly what she wanted. I’m an unbiased. I’m an expert specifically trying to help you with this problem, and I work for you.

So by her hiring me, she was able to discover exactly what she wanted and positioned herself to get into a new leadership role at another biotech company. The areas she had to work on or develop, she was able to do in a safe space of our coaching container. So if you think about these four mistakes, your company organizational chart, your logical next step based on your resume looking at your boss opinion, and only including your company sponsored programming for your development. What do they have in common? What they have in common is they’re all looking outside of you.

They are based on what your current company thinks, what society has taught you, what your boss says, what makes sense, what’s logical. But none of them are really looking at what you want. They really aren’t about you at all. So if you create a plan based on other people and spend a full year implementing it, then you get there and you’re not happy. That’s why it wasn’t what you wanted at all.

You spent all this time, and then you think when you get there, you might have that rush, that, oh my gosh, I did it. I achieved the thing. But then you look around and you’re still not happy, and it’s because you never wanted it at all. It wasn’t based on you. You have something unique and special that you offer the world, and you might not know what it is yet, but you do.

And so I hope you’re seeing just how powerful this is. When you do this work to figure this out for yourself, and you throw out the generic career plan advice. You stop doing what human resources tells you to do, and you instead look at what you as the person, what you want, and you let go of what you’ve been taught to expect because you get to make your own rules. It might be scary. And this is new.

So I created a brand new training for you. Five steps to knowing your next career move so that you can figure this out the way that you will feel good about that puts you at the center of your own career in life. What a thought right. So if you want to ditch the generic advice and really know what you want and how to get there on your terms, learn more about this process I’ve been talking about time and time again and get the five specific steps that you can use right now. Then join me in this free training.

It is March 29. The training is going to be held on Zoom at 12:00 p.m.. Eastern and I’m going to give you all of the steps and information you need to create a career plan that you will feel good about and is actually worth your time. So to get in on this you have to register online on my website. It’s I will put a link in the show notes and I want to leave you with this.

What you want is possible. Stick with me and you’ll finally find your unique path to happiness at work having the impact you want in the better job, being better paid. These examples, the success stories, the testimonials that you see they are available for you too. You just have to put in the work. All right.

Have an amazing week.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I truly hope you enjoyed it. If this episode resonated with you or helped you in any way, please share it on your social media and tag me. I love seeing what you’re up to. Also please make sure to subscribe and leave a review and until next time have fun navigating your career knowing the life you want is totally possible.

Share this Episode

+ show Comments


Top Posts

Organizational Psychologist
Career & Life Coach
Fierce Advocate
No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

Free Guide!

*Downloading the freebie will subscribe you to our email list, You may unsubscribe at any time, though doing so means we cannot contact you or provide you with more free resources, trainings, and tips.

4 strategies including when to use each one and a deep dive on putting it into action

bonus tips proven to work to get you more interviews and dream job offers

career advancement strategies specifically proven for women in pharma/biotech

Get the 4 hidden strategies you can use right now to advance your career as a woman in Pharma/Biotech. These are industry specific strategies that work even with budget cuts, restructuring, or if your boss already said "no" to your request.

4 Hidden Ways (shhh)
to Advance Your Career

- Margaret

"Wow. I wish someone had told me these strategies were an option earlier in my career."

    Group coaching

    beyond the ceiling

    Private coaching

    1-1 Coaching

    tune in

    Listen to the podcast