How to Write a Career Development Plan
What is a career development plan?
A career development plan, or career progression plan, is your own personal roadmap to defining, strategizing, and achieving your career goals within a particular timeframe.
It sounds simple right? That's because it is!
Career planning and development can seem incredibly overwhelming, with many people assuming plans needs to be detailed, in-depth, and take weeks or even months to finalize.
We’re not saying that the goals you want to achieve in your career should be assumed within one hour of sitting down and writing your career development plan. In fact, we’d advise against this.
Your career goals should be things you’ve really thought about; where you want to be in 5- or 10-years’ time isn’t something you should rush.
However, once you’ve had a chance to think and define these goals, writing a development plan is very simple. And the best bit? It’s personal and can change with you as you progress.
Why is a career development plan important?
The main purpose of completing a career development plan is to provide you with a roadmap for your future career, which will allow you to make well-informed decisions to achieve what you want to achieve. But there are other benefits to writing a career development plan.
Boosting your self-awareness
To write a successful career development plan, you need to first assess where you are today, your strengths, where you can grow, and what it is you want to achieve in the future of your career.
As a ‘career development plan’ suggests, you’ll be developing yourself; not just in the long term, but gradually as you try to achieve the goals you have set yourself.
Commitment and contentment
We’re not saying you need to stay within one career forever. Career change and support is always available. But with a career development plan, you’ll not only be more incentivised to stick to your set career path, but by progressing and achieving goals as you go, you’re far more likely to find career contentment along the way.
Increased employee engagement and performance
A written plan can also increase employee engagement rates, motivation, and as a result, performance. Why? Having something in place to follow andhelp you meet targets, objectives, and goals is a straightforward way to keep you focused and positive.
How to write a career development plan
As we mentioned previously, writing a career development plan is a simple process if you follow a guide. We’ve put together seven steps to writing a successful career development plan.
Set your goals
Identify the obstacles or barriers you may face
Strategize how you are going to achieve these goals – an action plan
Identify what resources might be useful to achieving your goals
Set a clear timeline
Let’s take a deeper dive into these steps…
Writing your employee development plan should always start with self-assessment. This step is often overlooked when planning your career; but it’s key to understanding what direction and progression is best for you.
Self-assessment is incredibly important in evaluating where you are in your career, identifying your talents, recognizing areas of growth and skills that you may be missing, and ultimately understanding how this affects your career path and what career plan is going to work best for you.
If you’re just starting out in your career, self-assessment is also important in finding what field best suits you as a person.
Becoming self-aware is going to help you, not just in career planning, but throughout your whole work life.
The next step is outlining where you want to end up. This starts with setting your goals, both long-term and short-term.
You’ll probably be in a position to identify your long-term career goal first; where would you like to be in ten years’ time for example?
Creating shorter-term goals will then act as steppingstones to achieving your long-term career goal.
Identify obstacles or barriers that you may face
While identifying goals is a large part of drawing up a career development plan, identifying potential obstacles that may get in the way is equally important.
Planning for the challenges you may face within your career is going to help you overcome them when they come about.
For example, with the inevitability of technology becoming increasingly more present in workplaces, future changes in the industry are equally inevitable. So, understanding that you may need to upskill yourself to continue your career path is an obstacle you might want to factor into your career development plan.
Let’s get your action plan in place.
Here, we want to identify how we are going to get achieve your ideal career development and develop strategies to achieve both short- and long-term goals.
For example, let’s say you have an overall career goal of become a leader within an organization. Your first shorter-term goal may be to move into a managerial position; how do you intend to do so? What experience do you need, and how are you going to achieve this experience? This might even manifest into even smaller short-term goals to make up your strategy.
Depending on you as a person, these strategies can be as brief or in-depth as you like, but following a strategy to achieve your goals is another accountable motivator.
Resources that might be useful
Your next step may be identifying the resources that are both available to you and that would be useful in achieving your career development plan. For example, access to training courses or personalised and professional coaching.
Set a timeline
Setting a timeline is essentially a way to keep on top of your development, strive towards achieving your goals, understand where you are vs. where you want to be, and track how close you are to achieving your goals. It allows you to keep on top of your progress.
This timeline should be loose, however. It is key that you set timelines not deadlines, as much of the process will be outside of your control.
Don’t expect to stick to a rigid timeline throughout your career. Who knows what challenges you may face, or how quickly you might make it through the stages of your career development. Let your timeline flex with you.
Keep checking your career development plan. Update it as your progress throughout your career and allow it to motivate you but not dishearten you.