A career development plan is a useful tool for anyone attempting to progress deliberately through a specific career path. Development plans can be formal or informal, and can be formed as a typed document or a more creative form. Learning how to write a career development plan forces you to critically consider where you are in your current career, where you’d like to be, how you think you can get there, and how you’ll measure your actions.
1. Determine your overall goals
This is the most important part of the career development plan, as it provides the plan with purpose and informs its direction. Set goals for yourself that are long-term. Goals should be as specific as you’re comfortable with, down to the specific position you want to hold in your field. Your objectives can also be more open-ended, such as a list of needs that you want your career to fulfill.
- Ask questions about your objectives once you’ve formulated them. Why do you want to reach these goals? What difference will it make to you and your career when your goals are met? Will you know easily when you’ve accomplished each goal? If you have a hard time answering these questions, consider reformulating your goals.
2. Assess where you stand right now in your career
Once you know where you want to go with your career, you’ll need to develop an understanding of your current position. Consider whether you are in the right field or industry to continue moving towards your goals. Make a list of the skills and areas of knowledge that you possess, and enumerate past work experiences that are relevant to your development. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, and how they relate to your chosen career path.
3. Formulate options for progressing towards your goals
After understanding where you are currently and where you want to be, you’ll need to brainstorm ways to bridge the gap between those 2 positions. Ask yourself which of your skills you think you’ll need to develop. Consider the steps available to develop those skills, whether it is through education or work experiences. Think of ways to develop yourself in your current position, even if you are employed in an unrelated field.
4. Construct your career action plan
The career action plan is the most concrete part of the career development plan. In it, you should enumerate the steps you will actually take to work towards achieving your career goals. List the steps you plan on taking-everything from earning credits towards a degree, obtaining licensing or certifications, getting a position in a new industry, or getting promoted to a managerial position.
- Develop a time table for taking these steps. Make sure to allow for some flexibility, as some opportunities may become scarcer due to external factors (such as an economic downturn).
- Identify the barriers that might prevent you from readily taking these steps. Consider ways to overcome these barriers.
- Make sure that all of your steps adhere to the SMART acronym. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Originally published on WikiHow