Once you have a solid career and clear idea of the direction you want your life to go in, it is important that you also have a career development plan to help you excel in the future and in your chosen field.
A career development plan will help you develop specific career goals and map out a course for you with the tools that are the best fit to reach your goals. To help you on your career development journey, let’s take a look at a career development plan example, and how you can write a successful career development plan.
How to Write a Career Development Plan
Step 1: Set Goals
With any plan, you are going to want to set goals that are going to help you follow through with your goal to completion. One of the most important steps in your career development plan will be to determine your overall career goals. These are going to help give your career plan purpose and direction. Here are some tips to keep in mind while formulating goals for your career development plan:
- Make sure that you set goals for yourself that are both short-term and long-term goals so that you will be able to feel as if you are unlocking achievements as you go along.
- Your goals should be specific. Specific goals will be easier to achieve than broad statements of hope. For instance, write down a specific position that you wish to hold in your field. If you work in marketing, you might want to work in the social media department of your company’s marketing team.
- However, when it comes to your objects for your career plan, they can be more open-ended. For example, you might list the things you want your career to fulfill and certain needs you hope to meet.
Step 2: Ask Questions
Once you write down your goals and objects, ask yourself questions about them. This will help you get a better understanding of the direction you want yourself to go in. Ask yourself:
- Why do I want to reach these goals?
- How will my career be different once these goals are met?
- How will I know that I have accomplished this goal?
If you find yourself having a hard time answering these questions, then your goals might be too broad and not specific enough or you might have irrational hopes for your career development. If this is the case, consider re-writing your goals and objectives.
Step 3: Assess Your Current Position
Take awhile to access where you are right now in your career. Where do you want to go from here? Determining where you stand at this very moment will help you develop the understanding you need to move towards your goals. Are you in the right field or industry? Perhaps you want to move up in the career you are already in. To help you assess your current position:
- Make a list of the skills and the areas of knowledge that you have right now.
- Make a list of the past work experience that you have that is relevant to your current position and the department that you work in.
- Go over your strengths and weakness and how they relate, help, or hinder your chosen career path.
Step 4: Have Options
When creating any type of goal, it is important that you give yourself options. Usually there is more than one way or path to take to achieve a certain goal. Once you are able to access and understand your current position, you will be able to discover the various options that you have that can help you bridge the gap between your career goal and your current status.
- Consider developing skills that you need to get to where you want your career development plan to take you.
- Brainstorm ways to develop yourself in your current position.
- If you are unemployed, consider different options and ways to progress in the field of your choosing.
Step 5: Write Out Your Career Development Action Plan
Once you have all your ideas and thoughts in mind for your career development plan, you can start to construct your action plan. Creating your action plan will be the most concrete part of the development plan for your career. You career development action plan should:
- Specifically indicate the steps you want to take to achieve your goal.
- Incorporate a time-table for when and how you want to take your steps to achieve your goal. Make sure that you allow room for flexibility, alternate options, and external factors that could change up the process.
- Make note of any hurdles or barriers that you could come across that might prevent you from achieving your career development plan goals. When you identify these barriers, make sure that you write down ways and steps that you can take to overcome these hurdles.
- Consider the SMART acronym when designing your career development plan goals. SMART goals are ones that are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Career Development Plan Example
- Write down your primary career interest.
Example: Sales management
- Identify any long-term professional goals. This can include any positions that you desire within a company that you are already working for.
Example: Become a Regional Sales Manager, pick up some more communication and sales skills, and attain a certain number of clients within the next year.
- Identify any short-term goals that will be helpful in contributing to your long-term interests and goals for your career.
Example: Be in top 15% for regional sales for each quarter, become a team leader for a work project, or join a trade group that is recognized by your company.
- List 2 or 3 activities that you can do to help you reach each of your career goals. When you are writing these down, be sure to specify how and when you want to complete each of these activities, any resources you might need to help you get there, and when you want to start and finish these tasks.
Example: If one of your short term goals is to be in top 10% of regional sales each quarter, then one of your activities can be to go on sales calls with a senior sales manager in your department. To accomplish this task, you can have your current manager introduce you to the senior sales manager and set up a lunch or dinner meeting to develop a working relationship with them. You could attempt to start next Monday, and have this goal completed in 3 weeks.
- Write down any tasks that you have in your current job that are not contributing to your long-term goals. Include any tips of suggestions as to how you can minimize, eliminate, or delegate these tasks to others.
- Write down any additional skills, knowledge, or experiences you would like to acquire that can serve to directly or indirectly help you in your career development for current or future positions.
- Write down checkpoints to access your progress and determine how you are doing to meet your goals. You can have progress checkpoints with managers, friends, or do them on your own. Just make sure that you or someone you know is keeping you accountable for your career development plan goals.
Plan The Right Career Goals For You
Developing a career development plan for yourself will force you to evaluate your current position of where you are right now, where you would like to be, and how you plan on getting there. For tips on how to accelerate your career in just 30 days, enroll in this job search course.