How To Create Your Own Career Think Tank

Imagine the power of a team of amazing thinkers who could help guide your career.

By + More

A think tank is a collection of people who advise, counsel, and think strategically about a problem, issue, or cause. Governments and political leaders have them. Industries and CEOs have them. Institutes are built on the idea of them.

So why not have your own career think tank? Imagine the power of having amazing thinkers who could guide you on where to take your career and what your next move should be.

Start now by tapping these five people:

[See Expand Your Career Potential.]

1. The best boss you ever had. Don’t choose the easiest boss or friendliest boss. Instead, define “best” as the boss who pushed, grew, shaped, and got the most out of you. This is the person who saw your potential and found ways to help you to reach it, who helped you stretch beyond your normal performance. This person believes in you for what you can be, not for what you’ve already done.

2. The peer you most want to be like. We all know someone who’s on top of everything. They’re the rising star of your industry, and they’re sure to make it to the top. You admire this person as a person and as a peer.

3. The best external recruiter in the field you desire. This recruiter places the best people you know in your field and always seems to hear about the best jobs at the best companies.

4. The person who once had your dream job. They’ve flourished at that job and are either at the end of their career or possibly retired. You want this person on your side because they can tell you how they got to where they are and how you can do the same.

5. Your most honest friend. This person tells you the truth; she’s honest with you about who you are and how you can reach your potential. This friend forces you to dream and keeps you grounded at the same time.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

Once your think tank is established, start interacting with them to look for answers to these basic strategic career questions:

• What should my 2020 career vision be?

• What areas do I need to continue to develop to be prepared when the opportunity for my dream job comes my way?

• What experiences do I need to be the best candidate for that dream job?

• How should I pace and sequence my job changes between now and when I land my dream career?

• Who do I need to know and help along the way?

Over the years, your career think tank will morph to include different people, different questions, and different answers. But start now, and at least one of the initial five people on your team is likely to set you on a career course that’s life-changing.

Rusty Rueff, director and career expert for jobs and career website has been a CEO, led HR in global companies and is co-author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business.

Vote in the Reader's Choice Awards for as Best Career Resource Website.