How to Create a Career Development Plan

Your career is yours, not your employer’s. If you want progression and better earnings, waiting and hoping is rarely a winning strategy. Accept ownership and take control of your career.

Personal career planning strongly increases both your immediate prospects and your longer-term potential, and our career plan template below will get you on track and keep you on track.

If an employer thinks you’re doing an excellent job, they may prefer that you stay in post. However, if you are doing an excellent job, that’s exactly the time you should be looking to move into a bigger role. Career planning will show you exactly when you’re ready for that next change.

Timing is everything. Emotional and impulsive decisions risk you leaping into a job just not right for you. Your next move must be a positive step, but you still can remain opportunistic. Correct career planning ensures you can measure the true value of opportunities, as they arise.

Some people love planning, others just want it done as soon as possible. Either way, a plan is useless, unless you execute it. As General George Patton famously noted: “A good plan executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Career planning must be simple and enjoyable, as well as effective.

What is career planning

A career plan is a statement of: where you are now; where you want to be at a defined point in the future and the key steps along that career path. It should be rooted in realism to make it believable. If you doubt your own plan, you’re doomed not to achieve it.

Career planning is then the live process through which you manage your progress during the journey to your goal role. There are three distinct stages: personal assessment; documenting your career path intentions and actively monitoring and managing your progress.

Why have a career development plan?

‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ is a well-worn mantra, so career planning appears to be a must-have. However, stopping there denies you access to serious levels of higher personal motivation.

Insurance. New policies arrive, reorganisations occur and bosses change. Building and using a career plan will protect your current value. If your role still exists, you’ll keep your job, ahead of your peers.

Investment. A career plan increases your medium and long-term earnings potential. Changes are your opportunities. Alternatively, if it’s time to make your own opportunity by looking elsewhere, career planning ensures advertised jobs lie along your road, and not up a blind alley.

Security. We live in uncertain times, redundancy is an ever-present threat. Following a development path will enable you to demonstrate that you’re a rising star, not someone who crash-landed on a plateau a while ago.

How to develop a career plan

There’s no time like the present. If you’ve got time to read this article, you’ve got time to spend a few minutes working out a career plan. By following these three steps right now, you’ll immediately feel that you’re in control and moving forward.

Step 1 – Assessment. Identify where you are now, noting the scope of your current role, responsibilities and achievements. Take account of your qualifications, experience, strengths, interests and values. Be explicit about the job you would dearly love to be doing a few years hence. Five years is a solid period to plan over, but use what works best for you. Finally, note the stepping-stone jobs to your goal role.

Step 2 – Documentation. Now document your career plan by populating a copy of the template below. If you don’t take this step, you only have a dream, not a career plan. Your document should be an action plan, designed to accelerate your progress.

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