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My career development plan and aspirations is as follows:

I'm 28 years old, I graduated with a Bachelors degree a year ago and have been employed for a year.

My five year goal is to be living and working on a different continent. This is primarily for the cultural experience, while I'm still young/don't have kids, as I didn't do an OE when I was younger.

Longer term (ten years), I'm aware that my priorities might change, but a key component for my job satisfaction is 'making the world a better place'. I'm not so much interested in technology for technology's sake, but as a means to an end for improving society.

In order to achieve both my five year and ten year plans, I need to develop some specific skill sets. For this I'm looking at working for a good quality company where I can develop these skills.

I'm looking for a new job from my current role, one that will have me developing my skillset.

The question is - in interviewing, how forthcoming should I be about my career development desires and my future plans?

  • Before someone votes this closed as too specific to an individual situation: - The situation I've given is an example of career aspirations. The question itself is quite general - how upfront should you be about your career aspirations? – user10911 Dec 19 '13 at 21:07
  • I have attepmted to remove the specific things to your situation that really do not matter to the question. If the change is too much then feel free to roll back. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 19 '13 at 21:19
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    Does this boil down to "my career plan involves quitting this job in a few years", or are you interviewing with companies with overseas branches? – Monica Cellio Dec 19 '13 at 22:18
  • @MonicaCellio - Certainly I'm planning on quitting my current role. Any jobs that I'd be interviewing for, I'd intend to quit in four-five years as well -unless like you say, they're an international company I could work overseas for. – user10911 Dec 20 '13 at 1:16
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I wouldn't be forthcoming at all about your future plans. An employment relationship is a mutually beneficial agreement yes but at least in most regions and situations you are perfectly at will to terminate employment at any time for any reason and labor laws aside your employer has equally such a right.

Because of your ability here to make this decision and the fact that you want the most possible compensation for this arrangement while your employer is seeking to provide the least possible compensation, the best mindset to take is to view the relationship in an adversarial sense. You put no trust in them beyond what is written on paper and agreed between you in the terms of your employment.

Let me give you this analogy, if you were competing in a chess match with a cunning rival where prize money was at stake, would you divulge your thought processes about what you think they will do, and you might respond and counter? Certainly not, because you are revealing your strategy and this, at best, has a net zero influence on the outcome of the game. At worst your opponent sees a number of weaknesses in the information you volunteered and moves to exploit them, or sees how weak their current position is and strengthens appropriately.

By not telling them there are no consequences. Your long term plans might as well be a manic episodic spur of the moment decision to travel the globe. They couldn't punish you by pretending otherwise. Telling them your long term plans could affect how they treat you or whether they want to keep you.

Excuse my language because I don't mean to be offensive, but there is no strategic upside to this other than what I suspect is a slightly narcissistic advertisement of who you are, and what your goals and dreams are, perhaps for the reasons that you get a boost to your ego being a contrarian or by attracting attention to your perceived uniqueness as an individual. Generation ME and all.

I suggest separating your social media life from your work life, changing language from "long term goals" to "hopes" and "dreams" and then you get the best of both worlds in the appropriate places for each. You should portray yourself as different from who you really are to your employer because it is advantageous for you to do so.

On a side note, if you happen to find a job in IT that actually makes the world a better place instead of being directly or indirectly involved in a corporate or vampiric enterprise of some kind that makes the world worse off then please let me know. I am beginning to think such places are extremely rare. :)

  • Viewing potential companies as "adversaries" is likely to result in landing a job with exactly that kind of relationship (they're trying to extract as much work from you for as little pay as you'll accept). But that doesn't describe how every company treats its employees. – Tom Panning Dec 22 '13 at 3:11
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    @maple_shaft: Regarding your last paragraph, consider a broader view of making the world a better place. Making a company of good people successful makes its mark on all the people who see it as a good example. Undercutting the fat competition makes them work harder, winning by being flat-out better than the rest makes them have to be better instead of passing money around an old-boys club. IT and the internet have changed the world and made more successes by merit than any other field. The rest of the billionaires are magnates, barons, politicians and gun-shufflers. – Phil H Dec 23 '13 at 14:42
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"...but a key component for my job satisfaction is 'making the world a better place'. I'm not so much interested in technology for technology's sake, but as a means to an end for improving society." If this is your long term aspiration, you'll do fine. If you had said something like 'I want to be driving a Ferrari by the time I'm 30' you might scare off some people. Your bigger picture intent tends to show through in various ways in the way you relate to people and in particular language expressions.

If you want to 'work on another continent' you might find people that will put you to work on 'all of them'. I know a whole bunch of people that are instructors for large software vendors that go 'everywhere'. The pay is really good, as it is described as 'hardship'. Realistically, however, you should simply focus on the market you want to work in (both location and discipline) and ask for what you want.

'Good quality companies' are like 'good quality militaries' - the quality is at the unit level, not the corporate level. You need to find the boss, the project, and the shop where you'll have what you want, even if the rest of the organization is a stinking cesspool. It's a good idea to learn your way around smaller organizations - many big companies don't know where you would be assigned until you show up at HR on your first day of employment.

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The question shows you are aware that telling an employer you want to be on a different continent in the near future could be a bad idea. You're right. Don't tell them, for several reasons:

  1. If people think you're leaving, they may not offer you opportunities you might otherwise get.
  2. You may change your mind. If you find your work fulfilling, meet someone significant, become part of a community, you may find you want to stay. 10 years is a long time when you are young, free and single.*

Caveat: Some companies, particularly technical consultancies, like to move people around a lot. I'm not sure whether they like finding a good fit or keeping smart people off-balance, or just getting rid of older people with families who can't jump at a moment's notice. These companies might well move you across the world and like that you are so fluidly relocatable. I still wouldn't tell them you want to move, but moderate it down to being open to relocation.

* I went from being a lonely, fat geeky graduate at 21 to a broadly happy married family man at 31. Much of my need for a purpose has been filled with having a family to look after.

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