Career Development Plan
Your Career Development Plan
In this section you’ll find everything that you need to plan your career, step by step.
These resources are designed to help you determine:
- Where am I going?
- What qualifications, skills, competencies and support do I need to get there?
- What actions do I need to take to reach my career goals?
You can work through these activities on your own, or with your manager as part of your development and career planning or with a coach.
If you can, I would encourage you to talk to your manager about your career development and your career aspirations.
Your manager’s views on your strengths, potential and development needs, as well as potential career options, opportunities and timing will be valuable inputs into your career development plan. 360 degree feedback can also provide useful insights into your strengths and development needs.
Download the Career Development Plan Template below. It will help you work through your career goals and the actions that you need to take to achieve them.
1. Where am I going?
The first step in your career development plan is to decide where you want to go and what you want to achieve. Once you have set career (and life) goals, you can then:
- Determine what qualifications, skills and competencies you need to develop; and
- Set action plans that will help you focus on what you need to do to achieve them.
If you already know what your career goals are, skip down to Your Career Development Template below.
What if I don’t know what I want to do?
In order to plan a career that is fulfilling (and before you set any career goals!) you need to have a clear idea of who you are and what makes you tick.
What drives you? What are your passions, your strengths, what gets you up in the morning? What activities make life enjoyable and time just fly by?
You’d be really surprised that many people plan their careers and set life and career goals without thinking this through first.
Work that doesn’t in some way draw on who you are, your skills, strengths and what you enjoy doing is likely to be hard work, requiring willpower and a mountain of motivation just to keep going. Achieving career goals or success doing such work may not even make you happy.
Setting Your Goals is a 28 page work book that will lead you through a series of exercises designed to discover:
What drives you and makes you most happy
Your skills, strengths and talents – and your needs
Where you might end up if you continue as you are now
- The goals you need in order to live a life that reflects what drives you and your passions
- What you need to do in order to achieve your goals and how to set SMART action plans
This workbook draws on exercises and self assessment questionnaires commonly used by career coaches, so it is a great resource to help you start to plan your career development.
After you’ve completed the Setting Your Goals workbook, you should have:
- Identified what drives you and makes you happy
- Identified your passions, skills, strengths and talents
- A vision of your future, distilled into career and life goals
- Detailed action plans that will help you focus your efforts and help you manage your progress step by step.
If you don’t know what you want to do in your career, or what you really want out of it, Setting Your Goals is a valuable and practical set of exercises to help you get in touch with what you really want and set your direction.
2. Career Development Plan Template
Your Career Development Plan Template - Download Below!
Once you’ve set your career goals transfer them to your Career Development Template.
The template will also help you:
- Develop a vision for your career
- Turn your career goals into SMART goals
- Assess the competencies, experience, qualifications, resources and support you need;
- Document and manage the actions that you need to take to achieve your career goals.
To save a copy of the Career Development Plan Template, download the PDF file at the bottom of this page.
To complete your Career Development Plan, you might find the following iWise2 topics helpful:
You can work through this template alone, with your manager as part of your development planning or with a coach or mentor.
Complete this template every six months. Don’t file it away, use it as a key tool to manage your development and your progress.
Working with a mentor can be a powerful way to accelerate our personal development. A step by step guide to working with your mentor to achieve your development goals.
A valuable tool that will help you understand your career path to date, what has made you successful, or stopped you from achieving your full potential. This can help you identify any issues that may affect your ability to achieve your future career goals.
3. Making Your Career Development Plan Work
How useful is it to decide on a career path or set career goals anyway? In a world of constant change, is this ever any use?
Do you want your boss’s job in two years, and their boss’s job in five? In two year’s time is your boss’s job even going to exist or will it be downsized, cut in half, your department sold, closed, merged into another area or out-sourced?
Will your organisation even be around? Will changes in technology make your processes recognisable in five years? In five years will you be working in a new industry or job made possible by new technology that barely exists today?
The short answer to whether you can plan your career is, you can and you can’t.
In one sense, you need to have some sense of your final destination otherwise you can’t plan and take all the steps that you need to get there and succeed when you do get there.
But obviously in another, you can’t plan it too closely because our working environments and our industries are so dynamic that the only constant that we can rely on is: change.
Expecting change, and having the skills to make change happen, survive the emotional journey and thrive is the first step in future-proofing your career.
So much of what happens in your career and the direction it takes will be pure chance: serendipity. A chance meeting, conversation or opportunity. But, you can be ready for serendipity. You need to ensure that your career plan keeps you well-positioned for a good range of future opportunities.
To make your development plan work:
- Focus on actionable steps, and keep both the urgent and the important moving forward
- Identify the resources and support that you need to progress your plan and how you will secure them
- Get you manager’s support: if your manager understands your career aspirations, they can provide you with the development and career opportunities that you need
- Expect change: your industry, similar industries and your organisation are constantly changing that will eliminate some opportunities and create new ones
- Continuously scan the internal and external environment: consider how new developments may affect your career plan and create new opportunities - flex your plan accordingly
- Be prepared for junctions: sometimes our careers are like a series of junctions, where we need to turn one way or another, or we feel stopped at red traffic lights. A key career skill is the ability to deal with junctions, ambiguity and delays to what we want.
- Remember that many developments in your career will never have been anticipated in your plan – be ready by planning to be well positioned for a good range of opportunities.
4. Career Skills
No matter what your career brings or what curve balls throw out your careful career planning, you can keep yourself in a strong position for every good career opportunity by mastering these essential career skills.
Without these skills, no matter how hard you work towards your career goals, your progress will be limited.
In order to succeed in your career, you need to be able to influence others, work well with them, successfully manage your boss and your senior stakeholders, appear credible, trustworthy and believable, you must manage your image at work. You must be visible and build a strong network around you.
Continue to Career Skills where you’ll find detailed guidance on the essential skills you’ll need in order to be successful in your career.