A career plan provides a clear structure for how you’re going to meet your career goals going forward, as well as perspective on the skills, interests and experience that you can use to make progress happen. It’s a vital document for steering your professional life in the right direction and ensuring that you know what steps you need to take to reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Creating a career plan will give you the momentum and insight you need in your career - here’s how to build one.
What’s the purpose of a career plan?
It is a document designed to help you get a clearer perspective on who you are as a candidate in your chosen role, as well as where you’re hoping to go next. A career plan can have many different purposes, from motivational to working out the obstacles that you’ll need to tackle to reach the next stage in your career. It’s always worth putting one together, especially if you are entering the job market for the first time, or about to look for a new role. At the very least it will give you all the information you need to answer any interview questions about where you see yourself in the next few years.
How to build your career plan
- Gather your data. This will include everything, from all the career options that are currently available, to your interests and strengths.
- Identify your key skills and experience. From this you’ll get a sense of what you’re qualified to do next, where you need to work on skills and what the options are.
- Set goals and determine actions. These need to be short and long term goals, as well as actions that break your goals into achievable, smaller steps.
- Put time limits on your goals. Be realistic about your timeline but make it ambitious too.
- Give yourself a way to monitor the progress you’re making so that you can ensure you don't slip behind or lose motivation.
Structure your career plan clearly and succinctly
Use a structure that is easy to update and one that you can replicate as you move through the different stages of your career. For example:
- Start with an introductory overview about who you are and what you’re looking for.
- List all your relevant education, abilities and qualifications.
- Include a short summary of your current employment history.
- List out your goals - short, medium and long term as well as the deadline for each one.
- Sum up your existing knowledge, skills and experience, whether these come from work or hobbies.
- Identify any training and development that you’ll need to do to reach your goals.
- Lay out, step by step, the actions that you’ll need to take in order to get from where you are now to achieving all the goals that you have decided on, taking into account the deadlines you’ve set.
A career plan is a vital document for anyone who wants to ensure that they are making positive professional progress aligned with clear goals.