August 2017

Career planning and goal setting for minerals professionals

  • By Susan Kihn, Infomine

A proper career plan with appropriate short and long-term goals can significantly help your professional development and ability to adapt to a changing environment

Professionals working in the minerals industry can expect to face many trials and tribulations over the course of their careers. This is particularly true in today’s mining world, where uncertainty and change seem to have become the norm. The mining industry has been plagued with instability in recent years, which has made those working in it extremely vulnerable in terms of job stability.

For this reason, it is essential that professionals continually plan their careers and set goals in order to achieve what they want, not only in terms of deliverables and job stability, but also to have a career that is fulfilling and brings happiness.

Although there are signs of recovery in the mining sector, the challenges that the industry is facing are far from over. It is therefore imperative that professionals working in the mining industry are able to adapt to the constant changes and challenges that go hand in hand with mining in today’s competitive world.

According to a report by Deloitte (2016), the four biggest challenges facing mining in 2016-17 are as follows:

  1. Market oversupply. Big companies continue to produce in the hope of driving out competitors.
  2. Efficiency and cost cutting. This is hitting smaller miners particularly hard, as they struggle to cut costs and investments while being able to remain viable.
  3. Stakeholder demands. It is becoming increasingly difficult to balance stakeholder demands from shareholders, governments and labourers.
  4. Financing challenges. High debt levels are placing companies under more pressure at a time when they need support the most.

All of the above factors, as well as the various other challenges the industry has had to contend with over recent years, have created uncertainty and turmoil in the mining industry. This has, in turn, resulted in numerous job losses worldwide, and for those lucky enough to have managed to hold onto their jobs, many have been left floundering and feeling very insecure and unsure as to what their futures hold in mining.

The importance of career planning

If you are a professional working in mining, it is important to take charge of your career and take ownership in setting achievable and realistic goals and ensure that you meet these goals through careful career planning.

Career planning is essential in order to succeed. Setting long-term goals with no thought process as to how to achieve these goals often ends in failure. Lack of experience and knowledge can and does create pitfalls that can make achieving these goals very difficult. Planning and the setting of milestones go a long way in helping to keep your head above water in challenging times. Not only will this give you a sense of direction, but also the opportunity to see how your career is progressing. By setting milestones and deliverables, it makes it easier to see quickly when things are starting to go wrong and assists in helping to find ways to get back on track.

Setting short-terms goal that are specific and easier to formulate will help to achieve long-term goals and offer you the best chance to succeed.

It is important to remember that career planning is a lifelong process and that in order to achieve your goals, having a genuine commitment and love for the mining industry goes a long way. You need to be continually learning and devising ways to develop your skill set, and to actively pursue employee development opportunities that may arise and ensure that you are always learning and gaining new skills and work experience.

If you have a love and passion for mining and are fortunate enough to have found the right career in the sector, it’s imperative that you plan ahead and set goals in order to stay on track and make a success of your career.

Setting both long-term and short-term goals will help you to stay focused. It also creates an environment where time and available resources can be better organised and managed. Just as going on a road trip with no map may result in going off track and getting lost, not having career goals mapped out can result in going off the path and your career not working out the way you hoped it would.  

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Deloitte, 2016. RS Sector Outlook Series: Bringing industry challenges to the surface [online]. Available from:

Feature image by zealous/

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